Job Opportunities in China (and India) – The Sky ‘May’ Be The Limit, BUT … Do Your Friggin’ Homework

I am often asked by students and alumni about job opportunities in China (and India).

The answer is often much more complicated than they like to hear. For example, I can report that managers and CEOs in both China and India, uniformly tell me that it is not enough that you have a pretty American smile and that you studied or majored in “global or international business” in the US. Your “value-add” must be more than than this.

The resources I noted below collectively highlight some of the issues, complexities, challenges and opportunities that surround this topic.

The below noted New York Times article, ‘American Graduates Finding Jobs in China’, ignited some debate and intense criticism in the blogosphere. Rightly so. My own view and bias is that the below listed Forbes article by Shaun Rein more closely hits the mark.

I intentionally waited to blog about this topic because I knew that after the dust had settled others would have more eloquent insight to share on this topic than myself, and on that note please see the below.

American Graduates Finding Jobs in China (New York Times) and Wharton Grads Head to Far East for Jobs (CNBC)

Young Americans in China, Part I, from Jack Perkowski blog (China hand and author of the well received book, Managing the Dragon)

Young Americans in China, Part II, from Jack Perkowski blog

Fox News Video Interview of Jack Perkowski on the the debate surrounding the need learn Mandarin (hard to believe this guy does not speak some Mandarin given how long he has lived in China)

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and … Mandarin? Chinese is Coming to a School Near You, from the Aimee Barnes’ blog

China Law blog post by Dan Harris, Easy Jobs For Foreigners in China. Everyone I Know Begs To Differ (the comments alone and debates therein to Dan’s posts are always quite good and insightful)

Should You Look for Work in China?, by Shaun Rein (Forbes article) (my own view is that this one may be the more balanced pieces you will find))

Some Advice for the China Bound Job Seeker, by David Wolf of the Silicon Hutong blog (ditto) (and see his related, more detailed and very, very good 2011 post on Quora – What Are The Key Skills Needed to Succeed Working for a Company In China as a Foreigner?)

The End of the Expat Package in China? – (April 21, 2012 Update) – This is a very insightful podcast and discussion on Sinica by several well respected old China hands (the relevant part starts at about the 20:25 mark of the podcast)

S.N.O.R. Your Way to China: A Guide Before You Go – (April 16, 2012 Update) – Another good post from the always insightful Silk Road International blog

Looking to Get Ahead? China Doesn’t Want You – (June 8, 2012 Update) – Very interesting piece published in Bloomberg’s Business Week.  And see this discussion thread on Quora – I’m an Enterprising New College Graduate.  Should I Move to China? Is That Where the Action is Going to be in My Lifetime?

You’ll Never Be Chinese – (December 15, 2012 Update) – Fascinating read and post on the Prospect Blog by Mark Kitto, a 16 year expat leaving China and his small business behind for a variety of reasons. And see/read this rebuttal to his piece by Marjorie Perry, Why I’m Sticking With China. And see/read Kitto’s response to some of the comments about his orginal piece which he titled, Criticizing China – The Response to My Farewell. And for one of the better valedictory pieces yet written about the long-time expat leaving China, see/read Will Moss of the famed Image Thief blog’s, I’m Leaving China and It Doesn’t Mean a Thing.  And see/listen to this Sinica Podcast, Time to Leave China?by well-known and respected China hands, Kaiser Kuo, Will Moss and Jeremy Goldkorn.

China’s Job Market Tightens for Young Foreigners – (December 1, 2012 Update) – Insightful NY Times article for any graduate thinking of packing up and starting a career in China

Falling in Love with China and Your Career, from the Aimee Barnes’ blog

Ok, So You Learned Chinese … Now Where’s That Dream Job?, by Benjamin Ross (who is from Kansas City, did a stint in China, then worked a bit in Chicago, and is now a PhD student in sociology at the University of Chicago).

Students, what are your take-aways from these articles and resources? If you travel to the future, i.e., places like China and India or other, what is your “value-add” for doing so that will make you attractive to a domestic employer there and/or a Western firm doing business there?

And for that matter, if you stay in California or the US to work and have no desire to work in a place like Asia, what is your “value-add” to the firm you are interviewing with or want to interview with here, especially in this very difficult economy?

While the above resources focus on China, said points are equally applicable to India. One major difference between India and China, though, is that many people in India speak good English, so the “learn another language” hurdle may not be as big of an obstacle there. That said, however, and as Shaun Rein rightly notes in his article about how he finds it “pathetic” that people come to work full-time in China yet don’t take the time to try to earn at least some of the language (I recognize learning Mandarin is difficult and it will be easier for some than others), the same can be said about learning Hindi while in India, in my view.

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41 Responses to Job Opportunities in China (and India) – The Sky ‘May’ Be The Limit, BUT … Do Your Friggin’ Homework

  1. There is a chance I will make the China leap. Let me give credit where credit is due, and thank the program – and Chris Carr especially – for showing the way. It is so important to have someone open a few doors. One theme of the articles that stood out in my mind was this maverick, plan your trip, get your ticket, make things happen attitude. That takes a lot of guts and initiative.

    I have started looking for jobs stateside, and it is equally intimidating. I respond by working harder, and can see myself spending 12 hour stretches in the library, uploading resumes and writing cover letters. Unfortunately I don’t think my twisted work ethic can be my “value add.” It complements my quality of work, my passion to learn and do better, my ability to speak languages and engage people from all walks of life, my team management skills and my willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. Still, being able to define and articulate what I can offer a company is something I struggle with. I need to get better at selling myself.

    While I feel I should narrow my job search, I am also confident that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As always, when you start with a big project, the initial phase is the most difficult. As you chip away the mountain becomes manageable, and you figure out ways to carve your path. Finding a good job nowadays is a BIG endeavor. Most of us are going to need a lot of patience, persistence, diligence – and a little luck.

    On a final note, I am studying Chinese at Cal Poly. The decision stems from my personal outlook – I enjoy learning new languages. At times I think of the opportunity cost of learning Chinese, and wonder whether it was the right decision. Tough call. I did meet an anthropology professor on my flight back to the States this summer. She was an Italian-American woman with a strong Brooklyn accent who spoke fluent Chinese. We hit it off. She studied the language for years, as a college student, all the way into her early thirties. It wasn’t until she was in her late forties that an opportunity presented itself, and she began spending half her time in China, doing exciting research. You never know.

    For those interested in doing business in China, and living there, speaking the language does set you apart. From my observations, the Westerners who spoke Chinese were more the English teacher types, those who wanted to penetrate the culture. Expats chasing the fast buck were less likely to speak Mandarin. The Rein article mentioned that there were more English speakers in China than there were in the US. As one of the comments pointed out, that’s a crock. In India, agreed, there are more English speakers than there are here. But in China you will find the majority of people cannot hold a conversation in English, even though they may be able to pass an exam. All the more reason why I think, in order to break the mold and be a well-rounded businessperson in China, and to be able to manage the complexities and really figure out what’s going on, speaking the language goes a long way.

  2. Chris Carr says:


    Thanks for the check in and comment.

    I would not discount your hard work ethic as not being a value add. If we hold to a firm, non compromising, non fantasy and non self delusional definition of that term, said item is much more rare than you think across the globe.

    In fact, if I were in an interview today, and I was asked, “Why should we hire you?”, I would respond with a, ‘There are several reasons, the first of which is I am an incredibly hard worker and I actually find joy in working hard and seeing the success that can bring to an organization …”

  3. Eric White says:

    This is such a large topic. Pages and pages could be written about it without scratching the surface (RE the articles Dr. Carr has cited). I do agree though, that if you want a job in these emerging markets, you have to take the initiative to make it happen. Maybe 15-20 years ago you could send out a resume to Chinese companies and receive offers but not anymore.

    I think Chinese companies realize they are having to conform to Western business practices to compete in a global marketplace, but the Chinese are quickly becoming competent in implementing these practices themselves. These companies are needing less and less a Western face to “legitimize” their business. This means it is becoming harder and harder to find a job there just because you are a Westerner. More so in India, but China also offers a huge supply of cheap workers, some of which are as qualified or more qualified than anyone the US can produce. Given this, it is imperative as Dr. Carr noted, to bring a value add to your company.

    Westerners still have much to offer Chinese firms. On our extended trip through China visiting the “smaller” cities of 1 million or less, Morgan and I experienced endless business opportunities. There are so many things being done the Chinese way that could be more efficient if they were done the Western way. (The same could be said about common US practices able to be improved by Chinese practices). It is hard though to explain these opportunities because you really do have to go and experience it for yourself. Morgan and I were constantly discussing business opportunities – there really are that many. If you take the time to learn about the culture (which never really ends) and the language, the sky really is the limit.

    As a follow up to the articles by Jack Perkowski, I read his book Managing the Dragon last year and HIGHLY recommend it.

  4. David Hart says:

    Some take aways from the above links:

    –There is opportunity for employoment in China, but it doesn’t necessarily come easily for Americans. Job seekers from the US need to realize that it will take diligence and persistence to find a job there. This of course is also the case domestically. One must look hard and be on top of his or her game to be successful.

    –If you do live there, learn at least some of the language. Of course people who are more fluent will have an advantage. I know how much people in the US are annoyed by those who come to live here and then don’t try to learn the language. The same goes for us–if we move to a foreign land for a while, we should do what we can to adapt by learning as much of the language as we can.

    –More and more schools in the US are adding Chinese language curriculum to their classrooms. If I were to pick two of the most useful languages to learn overall, I would say Chinese and Spanish. As one of the articles showed, however, just because one know’s Chinese, doesn’t mean that he or she will automatically find a job. Ben Ross would even say that learning Chinese will not help your salary, but only your intellectual development.

    –Before jumping into the Chinese job market, like the blog title implies, do your research. Study out the possibilities and make sure you are a good fit for a particular career in China.

    –Without a value-add, it will be tough to get a position with a company. One of the articles notes that the days are gone where you could simply send over your resume as a Westerner and get offers. You must really have something to offer the firm.

  5. Katie Moeller says:

    Some of the articles made great points. First, the opportunity that China is providing recent MBA graduates is undeniable. It’s a cheap way to start a business and the cost of living is lower. It’s also an opportunity for people to skip a few rungs in the corporate ladder. However, there is conflicting information in whether learning the language is a necessity before moving to China. I had a friend who worked in China and she said that she got by with not knowing the language. (She did say she always carried around a card that listed her address in Chinese in case there was a language barrier with a taxi driver.) In the article written by Rein, he advised not moving to China without knowing the language. Of course, it would be easier if one knew the language but I don’t think that should be the one thing to hold someone back. Rein also mentioned it will take time to land a job. In a prior blog, some gentleman had three job offers in a week. I think it comes down to what you’re looking for in a job, what salary you’re willing to take, and how hard you’re looking for a job.

    I liked the article by Lapin in which he said more graduates are looking for jobs that interest them and have a social impact. This explains why people may have a harder time finding a job with being so picky. When your dream job is figured out, you have to sell yourself. This brings me to the “value-add.” I think my value add is that I am a hard worker, I have proven experience in project management and leading teams, I am a team-player, I thrive in managing to deadlines and handling stress, and I excel in putting structure around chaos. I think whether I am looking for a job in China or the United States, these “value-adds” are critical. Probably managing and handling the chaos would be more important in China because some of the companies may be start-ups and I will need to learn how to manage the language barrier. The leading teams “value-add” would not be as important in China because that would be more difficult to do with not knowing the language. Understanding how to play up your strengths and setting yourself apart in the United States and/or China is critical in landing a job offer.

  6. Dan N says:

    What struck me about this post and its links was the universality of the advice provided. For those of us intimidated by looking for work in China, we should ask ourselves whether finding work in China is really that different from finding work in the U.S. today. The weak job market has made hiring managers as focused on value-add as ever. They no longer need to recruit candidates who aren’t local – eliminating the expenses of flying candidates in for interviews or offering moving reimbursement. I’m not saying that the job search here and there is equally difficult, I’m just saying that the delta between the two may be shrinking. Finding work in either place is going to take a lot of time and energy and landing a dream job with dream compensation may not be realistic these days in either place.

    The bottom line is this: Perkowski says that, “everything is possible in China… but nothing is easy”. We should yourselves the following two questions. Is everything possible in the U.S. today? Is anything easy here? It seems to me that the answer to both is “no.” So, what do we adventurous souls have to lose by exploring opportunities in China?

    Here’s a crazy thought that I just had for those who share my interest in negotiating, problem solving, and international business. What about seeking an opportunity in supply chain management with a Chinese original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that does contract work for American companies like Apple, Inc ? Perhaps our value add is our ability to use our knowledge of the American business climate and negotiating styles to negotiate contracts w/ American customers on behalf of the Chinese.

    What if we used our connections to get in touch with Robert Oppenheimer at Apple to ask for his help getting a foot in the door with one of Apple’s OEM’s? You could tell Mr. Oppenheimer that you want to pursue a long term career with Apple and that spending time working for an OEM would provide you with knowledge and experience that would be of great value to Apple down the road when you return to the States and “move to Apple’s side of the table.”

  7. Cassie Bettencourt says:

    I feel that the title of this blog really sums up the main takeaway I had from the articles and blog post – “Job Opportunities In China – The Sky ‘May’ Be The Limit, But Do Your Friggin’ Homework.” It ties in perfectly to the Jack Perkowski quote, “Everything is possible, but nothing is easy.” Although this is definitely true for China, I believe it can pretty much be applied anywhere and to all aspects of life. It is so important to do due diligence before simply jumping on the bandwagon. The NYT article was absolutely a little bit too nonchalant and flippant in describing the job opportunities available in China and how the job search would go for young American recent graduates. I can see how the idea of skipping a year or two on the career ladder would be appealing to a lot of people especially with the caveat that all that was necessary was to just show up (a ridiculous assumption).

    Another takeaway I had from these articles was the importance of the Chinese language. We have already begun to see the rise of Chinese language classes in schools and I think this trend will continue. While Spanish and French are currently the two most common languages taught at school, I think Chinese will become the new French in the near future.

    Shaun Rein’s article had many very valid points and was an excellent follow up to the NYT’s article. I thought his comment about starting work in the US and then moving over to China made a lot of sense. In regards to my “value-add” if I were Job hunting in China, I feel that it would be very similar to my “value-add” here in America. My ability to multi-task, organize, and create efficiency in my positions would be very useful to a Chinese firm. My prior work experience in America would also be a value-add in China. This experience is something that cannot be taught in American universities. Perkowski nailed it when he stated that there are only answers “right” for you in determining whether or not you should pursue job opportunities in China.

  8. Brady Haug says:

    There have been previous blogs which have led me to believe that Chinese companies will simply hire a qualified American on the spot. The reputation of American universities is clearly valued in China. I have heard that on previous trips the entire class was virtually offered jobs in China. I found this hard to believe and I guess my suspicions were right. You can’t simply have studied global business, you must have “Valued-Added,” as you alluded to. The New York Times article discusses the current second wave of American entrepreneurs. I was truthfully unaware of this large migration. I was also intrigued to find that this is largely in the area of energy production. This article, as well as the “Graduates Travel East to Find Employment” video, mention that it isn’t a matter of learning the language (though it helps I’m sure) but it is finding what particular thing you know, like finance or writing (this is your value-add). As professor Carr mentioned in his post, whether you’re staying in California or moving to China it is important to figure this out. This also ties back into the networking blog post, in that one way to differentiate yourself when networking is through your “value-add.”

    Also mentioned in the “Graduates Travel East to Find Employment” video, was that there was “more going on then they even suspect.” The fact that foreign MBA students are promptly returning home for jobs instead of gaining experience here, shows the opportunity that lay in China. There is clearly an entrepreneurial vibe amongst this new wave of workers. I think that the “Young Americans in China (Part II)” article describes the prospect of jobs accurately. In China, anything is possible but nothing is easy. Considering the current state of the job market, I was excited to read that, “Hiring of MBA students has bounced back, just in less obvious sectors and in less obvious places in the world, Robertson said, adding that that even finance, long the bread and butter of the MBA degree, has changed.”

  9. Jessie Wilkie says:

    I thought that it was fascinating and disappointing that high schools are starting to offer Chinese as a language. According to the article, “Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and…Mandarin? Chinese is Coming to a School Near You,” many more public and private schools are starting to offer Chinese. The government has increased spending to fund language programs for such critical languages like Chinese (others include Arabic, Farsi…etc.) I wish that my schools had offered a language like Chinese because I definitely would have taken it. I think it’s important to take those language courses when you’re younger because I do feel you absorb more–it is also important to stress how it’s essential to keep practicing the language. These young students will have better opportunities finding jobs in the global economy later, but it won’t be easy, which brings me to my next point.

    Easy Jobs For Foreigners In China. Everyone I Know Begs To Differ highlighted the language understatement in the NY Times article in a very funny way.

    “Wise Hack B:

    Please please mention the NYT “no Mandarin required” article and what
    an absolute crock of shit it is. Thanks.”

    I thought that this statement was abrasive, but it made a point. And it links back to the children here learning languages-even if you do business in English, it’s important to understand the local language and culture. The Forbes article also highlights the importance of language and culture:

    “One of the best ways to start a career in China is at a school. Apply for Mandarin language study for a semester, or see if you can get a job teaching English. That will get you a visa, you’ll begin to learn the language and appreciate the culture, and, importantly, you’ll begin to network and find out where the great job opportunities are.”

    Another takeaway from the Forbes article, for me, was that the Chinese came here and took away our education and jobs when there weren’t as many jobs in China and now they are still taking our education, but they are returning to China to take jobs since there are none in the US. I think this is messed up. If US citizens want to get jobs in China they now have to compete against American educated Chinese. Nothing is easy.

    The article Young Americans in China (Part II) had a quote that rang a bell, I feel like I’ve heard it a few times before: “Over the course of my last fifteen years here, I’ve learned that there are only two rules: Rule #1 is that “Everything is possible in China,” but Rule #2 is that “Nothing is easy.”

    My main takeways from all the articles were to learn the language, learn the culture, be willing to make salary sacrifices, and just do it. Get on a plane and go compete on the ground in China. That is if you want to get a job in China. It is possible, but it’s definitely not easy.

  10. Jason Jay Sharma says:

    Up until now, I was fairly confident that if tried finding a job in the Chinese market after finishing school, it would be tremendously easier than hunting at home in California. The collection of these articles has proven otherwise (with the exception of the NYT article, “American Graduates Finding Jobs in China” which only glamorizes the Chinese market for new graduates). While many more amazing opportunities are available and growing in China, some takeaways have helped me understand what is really occurring:

    – Chinese firms and Western firms in China are looking to hire individuals that have a mix of some experience with the understanding of the Western cultural. With the recent wave of Chinese students studying in the U.S. and then returning home, U.S. students no longer have the upper hand. The value-add for U.S. students use to be their cultural background and ability to speak English–this no longer can distinguish them.

    – For U.S. students thinking about China, they must realize Chinese firms will no longer be coming to them, but rather they have to go to the Chinese firms. David Wold and Aimee Barnes both touched on this–you need to pay for yourself and fly to China, don’t expect them to roll out the red carpet for you. Even in America, companies are cutting back on travel expenses for potential candidates (which was a perk to begin with), and with an unlimited supply of potential candidates at their doorstep, what makes you worthy of an expense-paid visit? Do you have a significant “value-add?” Additionally, you need to make those connections (preferably before hand). If not, you could be washing dishes for a few months when you initially arrive in China.

    – Language is important. To live and work in a nation without knowing their language is odd to me. I’m not sure why you would decide to start a career in China without previous attempts to learn the language or continuing learning while there. Especially for those who might end up spending 20 years in China, it’s almost insulting that you don’t feel the need to assimilate deeper into the culture.

    – Have an idea of what you would like to do. I really enjoyed Aimee Barnes listing of possibilities for those who might be interested in a career in China. You need to have some sort of hunger or drive for a career–just saying you want to work in China is not going to be enough.

    If I were looking for jobs either here in the U.S. or in China, I believe my “value-add” would be the same. I have experience in various areas of business within a short period of time: accounting, business tax and law, international structuring, marketing, public relations, and business development. With all these and my responsibilities over more than one facet of business at a time proves my responsibility and adaptively. Hopefully my “value-add” and MBA will find me a career at home… or even China.

  11. Will Moeller says:

    There’s plenty of food for thought with all these articles. It does really make you wonder what’s possible if you’re willing to prospect a great opportunity.

    First, the issue of language is a recurring theme in these articles. The first valuable point regarding language is that if you’re young, you have no excuse not to learn Mandarin. The young American job seekers are wired differently than the old – more open-minded. This open mind should be used to pick up Mandarin. On the other hand, Jack Perkowski seems to indicate that Mandarin isn’t essential. He points out that there are plenty of skills demanded by the Chinese economy. However, if you’re not going be able to speak Mandarin, you better be able to offer some pretty valuable skills elsewhere. I believe the article from Barnes’ blog says 50,000 American students will study Chinese this year. It’s a start, but it’s not that great. Having just watched the TEDx video with Marquis Jacques, this shows how lackadaisical Americans really are when it comes to learning new cultures and languages.

    Another question that comes up in these articles is when. When is the right time to make the leap? There are advantages to several stages. The recent college grads have the advantage of low breakeven points according to Perkowski. Reading between the lines, Rein asserts that middle-aged professionals may go to China to revitalize their careers. Even seasoned professionals can find opportunity provided they have advanced skills and are eager to take advantage of the approximately 3.5:1 cost of living advantage in China compared to the U.S. Dan Harris makes an excellent point. Knowing how long you’ll need to latch on to a job is important. If you make the leap expecting a job within a week, that’s not realistic. If you make the leap and expect a job within six months, you’d better have the savings to support your job search.

    Finally, the Shaun Rein article does present a very evenhanded and realistic view of the pros and cons of making the leap to finding a job in China. The primary pro is opportunity. Executives in China – on average – have unparalleled experience opportunities. The primary cons are the salary limitations and bureaucratic red tape such as the work visa.

    In sum, these articles are inspiring and sobering, but do provide plenty of food for thought.

  12. Jessica Shayler says:

    Here’s my primary take-away from the readings:
    “If you like what you see after you’ve experienced it first hand, figure out what skills you need for long term success, and then go out and get them.” ~ Jack Perkowski in Managing the Dragon Part I.
    The “experienced it first hand” phrase implies action, doing. Life is not a spectator sport: decide on a possible path and go walk it for awhile. If you like it, do what you need to stay on it: “figure out what skills you need.” On a foundational level, what these articles said to me was participate in your own life, opportunities are there, but you have to make the most of them.

    A secondary take-away:
    Avoid the “grass is greener” mentality by having realistic expectations and a willingness to work hard for what you want and (most likely) you will succeed. From Shaun Rein to the NYT article, I got the impression that the worst thing to do was to go to China (or anywhere) because things are easier (i.e. “greener”). Have you ever known someone who worked really hard to get out of work? The important thing to remember is that their grass is not any greener than yours because they are still working hard. As will you if you expect to get anything you want out of your life and career.

    Tertiary take-away:
    Remember that failure is often the road to success – don’t give up. It’s statistically impossible to fail all the time if you are trying to succeed. Thus, if you don’t give up, you’ll make it. Eventually. The success stories in the articles were of people who walked a possible path, obtained skills they needed, worked hard, and then didn’t give up.

    Quaternary take-away:
    “They’re really looking…to do things that interest them and that are unique to them.” This ties into the quality of life blogs we did. I still believe quality of life is largely a mental exercise, but finding something you love to do as your career goes a long way in helping you lead a life you find fulfilling.

  13. Robbin Forsyth says:

    Maybe I am just cynical, but I didn’t buy the NYT article “American Graduates Finding Jobs in China” for a second. The article seemed to be “feel good” recession propaganda. It was reassuring that my instincts were confirmed by Dan Harris at the China Law blog.
    Finding a job in China seems to be on par with finding a job in any new location. Networking to make connections, understanding your skill set, marketing yourself, being persistent and a bit of luck seem to be international factors in finding work.
    The added factor of location and language complicates looking for work in any foreign country. I’ve been looking around in several european countries for opportunities and every contact has made it very clear that they’d be happy to talk in more detail when I’m in country. Making the effort to “have boots on the ground” shows the employer that you’re serious about an opportunity.
    The fact that it’s possible to even consider being hired in China without language skills is a plus. Looking for jobs in France or some other European countries without speaking the language is not possible.
    A big take away from all of the articles is the importance of understanding what you bring to an opportunity.
    I believe my biggest “value added” that I will bring to any future opportunities are:
    Initiative and can do attitude.
    Scalable skills in leadership and teamwork.
    Ferocious creativity combined with analytical problem solving skills.
    The ability to both work hard and smart in order maximize effectiveness.
    Formal skills in product design and management.
    Extensive experience in supply chain management, (MRP systems, product development, sourcing and production).
    A continuous drive for personal and professional improvement through double loop learning.
    A sense of humor.

  14. Sarah Weinzapfel says:

    I felt that, while some emphasized one part more than the other, these articles all had the same two-part argument: China can be a great place to live and work, but you need to do your homework, you need to keep your head out of the clouds when it comes to expectations, and there are negatives (technically that’s a little more than two parts). I liked this post because I felt it gave a fair view of both sides: the pros and the warnings. The title of this post sums the articles up perfectly and before this post, other articles had alluded to the idea that working in China was easy and would give an incomparable competitive advantage. A longer version of my main takeaways:

    -You have to get out of America to get a job in China…and even then it isn’t guaranteed. But it’s nothing aside from common sense that it’s easier for Chinese to hire someone local. If you want to work in China you need to invest in a trip over there and invest the time into preparing for the trip. You should also be willing to actually move to China before you land a job. In “Some Advice for the China-bound Job Seeker,” the writer talks about wasting two years trying to find a job in China from America, finally moved to China, and was never unemployed for more than a couple months. “The primary reason for this is that most hiring decisions for China and Asia positions – even for multinational companies (PR, advertising, and others) – are made on the ground here in the region.”

    -Getting a job in China is not so easy. You have to really want it and China is not for everyone. You also have to have “value-add” just like anywhere else you go to search for a job. I think my value-add whether in the U.S. or in China is that I am hard-working, can multi-task, determined, organized, and creative.

    -In the NYT article it talks about the advantage of young people working in China because it lets them skip some steps on the corporate ladder. But then we hear from Ben Ross’ blog that living in China for some period of time is not a golden ticket upon return to the U.S. He says the post-China unemployment is almost unavoidable.

    -Knowing the language is important. It shouldn’t be a road block in your decision to move to China, but learn some before and if not, try to learn it fast when you go. Many schools are adding Chinese into their curriculum. The schools I went to only offered Spanish and not until high school. I think it’s crucial for schools to have second language programs and I think it’s just as crucial to start them at the elementary age.

  15. Kristine Spencer says:

    These articles helped to put the previous two blog posts into perspective for me. While the last two blog posts highlighted all the possibility and lower costs associated with living in China, these articles together provided a balanced and well rounded perspective about jobs in China. The previous two blog posts made me feel somewhat foolish for not accommodating China into my job search, but these articles pumped the brakes and explained the challenges. It seems as though the NYT article represents a very small number of Americans finding perfect jobs so easily in China. My favorite quote from the Young Americans in China articles was “Rule #1 is that ‘Everything is possible in China,’ but Rule #2 is that ‘Nothing is easy.’” These same rules apply to the US, but at least here in the US I can speak the language and a bit of Spanish. I was surprised to read a couple times that proficiency in Mandarin can be achieved in around two years because it has a reputation for being extremely complicated.
    In regards to foreign languages, the US is not nearly as exposed to languages as we should be, especially from elementary school through high school. I think that it is great that more languages are being taught, including Chinese. Reading Ben Ross’ blog was kind of downer, stating that Chinese Americans will already speak better Chinese than we ever will, and English proficiency is spreading like wildfire in China. Simply having “English skills” is not a value add anymore. But we all need to adapt to this reality by redefining and bolstering the value that we add to companies.

    I liked the analogy of making your own personal balance sheet, and figuring out what your value added is. I honestly think that my value added would be less in China. My passion is marketing, and a huge part of marketing is understanding the culture you are trying to reach. Because China’s culture is complex, a native Chinese marketer would be more valuable and knowledgeable about culture, wants and needs of consumers, appropriate channels to reach markets, and trends in industries.

  16. Chris Bruns says:

    There was a lot of information to process in this blog posting, so I wanted to hit on some of the main takeaways that stuck out to me. The first point came from the links Young Americans in China Parts one and two. I thought the quote “My advice: If you have an interest in China, don’t waste a lot of time getting here. If you like what you see after you’ve experienced it first hand, figure out what skills you need for long term success, and then go out and get them” was sound advice for anybody doing anything life changing in the future. I think that that attitude of experience and learn by doing is essential, especially if it is something as big as moving across the world. And I know that it has been said a lot but it still rings true to me that ‘Rule #1 is that “Everything is possible in China,” but Rule #2 is that “Nothing is easy.”’ I also liked one of the final points of the article which stated that a solid self evaluation of weak and strong points will really make a difference.

    In Easy Jobs For Foreigners in China. Everyone I Know Begs To Differ and Should You Look for Work in China? I think that they both had great honesty and Rein had some great tips and advice on what to expect. I enjoyed both of these pieces because to me, the overall point is, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. The world is changing and there is going to be competition and other business people looking to get the same jobs and make the same money we are chasing. I also liked the ‘Avoid Running into the Great Wall by Taking These Steps’ from the link Falling in Love With China…And Your Career . With suggestions like patience, the importance of networking, and continuing to learn and grow, I thought the list was well written and something to be taken to heart.

  17. j hurley says:

    Good jobs are difficult to find anywhere, there’s no way around it. It is no surprise that American graduates are not just handed a job in China, there is so much more one needs to know aside from a formal education.
    Business requires that one know the culture they work in probably even more so than a book education. From the jobs that I have worked, I have always found that attitude and hard work are most important, and quite honestly a lot of the education required was found on the job site. I am sure that this applies to many other places and jobs around the world.
    It is definitely important to find your core competencies and promote them and look for a position that will allow you to use them.
    Knowing the language is probably not vital, but I see it as a great head start if it is known. So much can be lost in translation in unfamiliar cultures…
    China may not be handing out jobs just yet, but as globalization increases, so will jobs and opportunities.

  18. Ashley Ogden says:

    The WSJ article had some good information about how to market yourself if you don’t speak the language and don’t have any experience in China. The value added that I got from that article is that for me, I could be a connection from the Chinese company to the American market. The article said that one lady was hired on the fact that she was “capable of communicating with the Western world” and was outspoken about her ideas. Those are both things that I could add to my resume. The article also brought up a good point that Chinese students are raised to be quiet and less spoken that American counterparts.

    However, Rein also brought up some good points that contradict the WSJ article. He said that being an American and knowing how to speak English is not good enough to get a job. Now young Chinese are getting well-educated in the US then moving back to China for work. This has made the competition in China a lot tougher. Chinese students have the advantage over us American graduates because not only do they have a good degree, they can most likely speak both Mandarin and American. It has been my experience that someone with connections, knowledge and history in an area has the advantage over someone not familiar in an area. I once got turned down for an internship in favor of an applicant that was originally from the area where the job was. I have found that frustrating and I can imagine the same thing could happen in China.

  19. Amanda Podesta says:

    The most interesting “take-away” from the articles:
    David Wolf and Shaun Rein are asking for their readers to take a huge leap of faith. I don’t know how comfortable I would feel to fly by the seat of my pants to China without any job prospects. I understand the value of just getting your resume in circulation but considering the distance and the investment, it almost seems fool-hardy.
    The “value-added” for interviews:
    What will be particularly applicable to job interviews will be capitalizing on our experiences visiting businesses and speaking with people in China. In just about every industry, China has had an effect. Being able to connect a story from our travels to the particular industry/company we are interviewing in will likely differentiate you from other candidates while impressing your potential employer of your critical thinking (*cough* depending on how insightful your comments were).

  20. Tyler Sereno says:

    There is a lot of useful information in these articles to consider if deciding to look for a career in China. More people are looking to China for jobs. China is a place of experimentation, and young people are willing to go there and try something new. There is a second wave of businessmen making the move to China.

    Chinese companies seek the value that Western businessmen can bring to them. Westerners bring skills that are harder to find among the Chinese. It is not necessary to learn the Chinese language to be successful in China, but it can help you. If you make the commitment to live and work in China, it wouldn’t hurt to grasp the language. However, English speakers can help the Chinese companies navigate the American market. Knowing the Chinese language does not have to be your value-add.

    If you are contemplating making the move to China, it is important to define your strengths and weaknesses that you can bring to China. There are several things to consider when making your decision. Working in China is challenging and fast-paced, and young executives get much more responsibility than they would in the United States. You should not expect a high salary, and government regulations make it hard to secure a work visa unless you already have two years of work experience. It was also mentioned that it is best to start your career in the United States to achieve good job training and then make the move to China.

  21. Randy Camat says:

    My takeaways from this post and attached articles:

    – Accepting a job in China would mean accepting a lower wage or salary. However, although it may seem less attractive, the cost of living in China is lower than that of the US. Shaun Rein, in Should You Look For Work in China, gives a ratio comparing the salaries from the US to China as a 3.5-to-1 ratio. This very good information in getting a sense of what to expect if you’re thinking about working in China.

    – Language is very critical in landing a job in China, however it is not the only factor. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that learning Mandarin will guarantee them a spot for their dream job in China. Having knowledge of the business as well as knowledge of the country’s culture is what really matters.

    – The best way to get your foot in the door in China is to teach English at a school. This is a perfect opportunity to also learn Mandarin and get accustomed to the culture. Another way of landing a job in China is to start off with a company in the US and then jump on an opportunity to go abroad.

    – A common takeaway from the majority of the articles is that commitment is the key to finding a job and being successful in China (or any place for that matter). In the Some Advice for the China-Bound Job Seeker post, companies are not willing to take the risk of paying for an all-expenses-paid trip for an interview. Making that commitment to purchase a plane ticket and flying overseas to find a job really shows the company that you are serious about getting hired.

    – Finally, I was thinking that since an expat would have no problem finding a job back in the in US. After reading the post on Ben Ross’s Blog, simply learning and knowing how to speak Mandarin will not get guarantee you a job in the US. I guess having this perception is not the best way to advance in one’s career. Ben Ross says it best in saying, “If you do decide devote the time and energy to study Chinese, do so out of a desire to further your own personal curiosities and intellectual development, not under the pretense that it will directly boost your career. For that, you’d be better off getting an MBA.”

  22. Tara Millard says:

    I enjoyed looking at this post and the contrast between the NYT article and Dan Harris’ post. Any educated person should question the integrity of the first article for its oversimplification of the entire process of moving and working in China. This article depicts pursuing a career in China as a walk in the park, the obvious choice for Americans who want to be handed a successful career. While this article highlights the success of a few people, it fails to recognize the hardships faced in the process and the dozens of Americans who failed at this very endeavor.

    I love that Dan Harris highlights the trends that this article follows. While succeeding in China without any knowledge of Mandarin may be possible, I agree with Dan in that it is by no means easy. Also, I agree with Dan in that the NYT article seems to appeal to lazy people who are struggling to make it in America, which is far from realistic. The educated person hopefully realizes that the picture portrayed in the NYT article is too good to be true and thus questions its validity.

    While Dan Harris’ comments call out the hacks that are present in the NYT article, I am still unsure of the motivation behind the NYT article. Why would a successful company back an article that fails to break the surface of the issue being discussed? The writer and editor of this article must have enough knowledge to know that these levels of success are not easily attained or by any means the norm, so why would they waste precious space to publish an article that is so superficial. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would rather hear a story of one American achieving success in the face of adversity, rather than these pointless highlights of many American ex-pats.

    I had no emotional or educational connection to the NYT post which is contrasted by a deep interest in the short but informative post by Dan Harris.

  23. Tim Easton says:

    This blog post was very helpful. I have considered working abroad, anywhere from China to South America, and the articles really laid out the pros and cons of doing this. I know that since the job market has been down many other students have had this same idea, increasing the competition abroad. I didn’t expect to be handed a job, but I did not think that it would be that challenging. I knew that employers wanted more than just an American degree, but I did not expect the difficulties presented in the articles. It makes sense that Chinese students, who studied in the US, are now taking the jobs that Americans were hoping to find. The Chinese students all know English, and have learned about American culture after spending a few years there. The Forbes article presented many useful strategies for finding a job in China. I do believe that it is important to ask your network for any contacts and set up interviews before you arrive. The example of the person flying to China for a just a day, for a single interview, seems absolutely crazy. Although, I have been flown roundtrip from San Diego to Chicago, in the same day, for an interview. I also agree that learning the language is extremely important. If you are going to spend an extended amount of time in any place, why would you not want to learn the language and get a better understanding of the people?

  24. I understand the pull of China; the first article did a good job at outlining the advantages: the “surging economy, the lower cost of living and a chance to bypass some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States.” It was inspiring that BeijingDance/LDTX company hired a 23 year-old with no experience with China because they “needed someone who was capable of communicating with the Western world.” I wonder if this still applies. I also take heart because I feel that initiative is one of my strongest qualities as a job candidate, and this is something that they mention in the article that Chinese students do not possess quite as strongly as American students. I may not be the most outspoken person in class, but if I identify a worthy opportunity I will make it a goal and pursue it. As I am ramping up to search for employment, I understand that I must identify my own value-add. It is nice to hear the feedback from these articles saying how much they value American education system values: even though the job applicant has “never been to China and couldn’t speak the language. I hired him for the summer because he is smart, hard working, has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and had already demonstrated his capabilities and commitment to the company.” Just think of how much farther we are ahead of the curve with all of the research we have done, our trip, and the business connections we will be forming. With no jobs in the US and the aforementioned advantages of living and working in China, I should start to consider more strongly the notion of doing it. Last time I was there we visited a large international architecture firm called Gensler (Shanghai office). I should look into applying to this firm ahead of time.

    I liked contrasting the first two articles with Shaun Rein’s article. I agree with Shaun that the first two articles had an optimistic view of young American’s work prospects in China. The fact that you get the job and may jump ahead on the corporate ladder shouldn’t make one expect a high salary. With the living costs being lower – I’m unsure of how this all works out. I also wouldn’t have known about Shaun’s second caveat about government regulations making it hard to secure a work visa without two full years of work experience already. I know that the visa process is challenging in most countries and I can only assume that it is more complicated for China. This is one reason to wait to work in China, or just another obstacle to overcome, it depends on how committed the applicant is. Also, in contrast to the arguments above, companies in China don’t necessarily need an American to be the voice to “communicate with the Western world.” There are many Chinese students studying in the US who will suffice. Again, I think we will be a leg up on the competition, seeing as we are actually going to China. The people who are interested in working in China should apply to firms and let them know the dates we will be in their city. The question is, will there be time to squeeze an interview into our tight schedule?

  25. Ben Raymond says:

    For someone willing to take the risks, China presents the possibility of a very lucrative experience. The low-living costs and opportunity to leap-frog job the corporate ladder combined with the extreme growth and Wild West feel is very attractive to young foreigners looking to get ahead. The language barrier is one of the most intimidating to myself and with the reports that you can survive in China with English and learn Chinese on the go the opportunity seems even more possible.

    Even though the opportunity is an attractive one. I would have a lot of trouble just launching myself into China without first having some serious job prospects. The thought of going over and not being able to find a job or having to settle for one that is below my expectations presents too big of a risk for me right now. Maybe if I had a bit more of a financial cushion I would consider it more seriously.

    I think it is very important for us to start realizing and being able to clearly articulate our “value-add” to potential companies. After all that is the reason for pursuing further education, to gain value that you didn’t previously have. Depending on the country, an individual may provide a different value to the company. In China, an American would bring a knowledge of Western culture and a set of skills that one can only obtain in American schools. As stated in the article, Chinese students often lack a certain initiative that is encouraged in American schools. I like to think that my technical background combined with an MBA with allow me to add a great deal of value to the company I choose to work for. While I plan to work my way up through the engineering ranks, I think that my teamwork, problem solving, initiative and communication skills will make me a prime target for a management role and will allow me to maximize my potential “value-add”. I thought defining your strengths and weaknesses and what you can bring to the company, wherever the location, was great advice for pre-interview preparation.

  26. Matt Streiter says:

    So the common denominator in all these articles is that you don’t need to know mandarin, you don’t need to know much about China in general, and don’t expect it to be easy to find a job. This shows how much China values the education of American colleges and the skills they possess being that they will hire someone who can’t even communicate in the native language. I found the statement made in one of the articles, chinese graduates make about $600 a month and if you want to make more than that you have to to demonstrate the added value you provide over the chinese educated candidate, very interesting. Although I know you have to adjust the figures to the cost of living, I’m sure these figures alone will still be some what of a reality check when you start your job search in China.

    Another major point I took out of these articles is that you have to be proactive. As one of the articles stated, if you are trying to do your China job search from your American living room you are at a disadvantage. The women in the article states that she had a two year set back by not being able to make the trip to China until she had a meeting locked in which did not show the same dedication of those who got on a plane and did the job search in China. The statement of Chinese businesses taking slightly less qualified locals over their American competition really hits home the point that you need to be there if that is where you want to work.

    Relating to previous posts of bringing American culture into China, having American graduates moving to China to work could have a hand in shaping Chinese businesses practices to be more cohesive with American standards. It begs the question though, if so many young educated graduates are leaving here to work in China, how is this going to impact the future workforce of this country?

  27. Kyle R. says:

    These blog postings and article shed light on the opportunities that can exist for young graduates who are willing to work hard. I like how some of these articles emphasized the difficulty one can face when trying to make the transition into Chinese business. Jack Perkowski simply stated, “Make no mistake about it, China is difficult. Over the course of my last fifteen years here, I’ve learned that there are only two rules: rule #1 is that everything is possible in China, but rule #2 is that nothing is easy.” With all the hype about the tremendous opportunities in China, I feel one can easily get accustomed to thinking that is very easy to be successful in China, when that is simply not the case. I’m sure the landscape is hard to navigate without the help of someone who has experience working in China. Shaun Rein provided more insight by saying, “Unlike a decade ago, young Americans today compete for jobs with highly educated and worldly Chinese.”

    I do think that working in China can provide valuable experience and possibly allow you to skip a few rungs on the corporate ladder. A good example of this was the college student who worked in China instead of being a “generic” intern here in the United States. To be recognized in China, one must provide some value to the business or industry they are trying to enter. If I were to work in China, the only value I’d be able to provide is knowledge of a few U.S. industries and how to capitalize on the opportunities that exist in those industries.

  28. J Vail says:

    This was a good, well-rounded post, and it gave us a good piece of the ‘research’ needed to head into China. It’s hard to summarize all of the information, but there were certain points that stuck in my memory:

    1 – How middle and high schools are finally taking more of an initiative towards teaching Mandarin. Although I didn’t think about it at the time in high school, offering French and Italian seems foolish without offering Mandarin.

    2 – Ben Ross’ blog was a good counterpoint to all of the writing on leaving to China. I can understand how people could email him with the problems he described, but I think it’s obvious to not have unrealistic expectations when leaving or returning to the country. I also liked his emphasis on not just learning Chinese, but using it to “augment your pre-existing skill set”.

    3 – I liked the direction of Perkowski’s interview in that from a big-picture perspective you have very little to lose in travelling over to China. I also could have never guessed you could reach a level of success that this man did without learning the language, especially because the other articles mentioned that most people can learn it to a proficient level within 3 years. It was nice to see actual information on Fox news.

  29. Chris F. says:

    I think that it is an unsaid requirement to learn some of the host countries language if you expect to land a job over there and live. You’d be viewed as an arrogant (or naïve) American if you think everyone would bend over backwards to cater to you in their country. Having said that, I think there are opportunities for people to find jobs (especially MBA’s) if they are willing to go out and seek them. And when you do start to get job offers, it comes down to the seeker to determine if this is the job for you. With Lapin’s article, some job seekers are holding out for a job that fits their personality or passion. Sure, that’s OK but they might be limiting themselves considerably if they take that position and stick with it. While opportunities might come around, you’ll have to work very hard to make the best out of it, both in America and China.

    As for myself, I wouldn’t know how I could be a “value added” employee to a foreign country. I wouldn’t claim just because I took a class or two that it would make me an automatic choice for a job (aside from my credentials). Even State-side, finding and getting hired at a good job is hard since there is so much competition here as in China. I think it boils down to how badly you want a job. If you’re willing to make the move to someplace where the company is (be it in America or abroad) and have an ability to show you are passionate about some aspect of your job and can convey that you’ll work harder than the next person, hopefully the hiring person will see a bit of your true character and give you a chance.

  30. JP Salazar says:

    The impression I had received from previous blogs was that Chinese companies, and especially young students, look favorably on American college graduates. While this may or may not be true (I’m not really convinced either way), what I can take away from this post is that this is really not enough to get a job in China. Just like here in the States, your main concern still remains when looking for a job. How do you show what your added value is?
    What I found very interesting was how sure the first two articles were about the opportunities available in China for young Americans. While I agree that in this period of huge economic growth there are a number of opportunities in China available for people who are looking to make something of themselves, I was amazed that they actually suggest traveling there without any concrete prospect just to get a feel for it. This can be a very risky and expensive proposition for a lot of people, with the reward being the chance to work in an environment full of change.
    The main concept I will take away from these readings is one that is applicable no matter where I choose to look for a job. In order to be present yourself as a potential hire to an employer you really have to have a good sense of what you bring to the table. Your “value-add” is what is going to differentiate you from all of the other people trying to get the same job.
    I found the WSJ article rather informative concerning how to market yourself to a Chinese employer. While the direct lessons probably won’t be that useful in my future (I have no current plans to move to China), I think that looking at a job interview like a marketing pitch is an important concept. You are attempting to sell yourself to an employer. They are trying to determine what qualities and skills they are going to pay for in the end. Understanding that how you present yourself in every respect will affect how you are seen is important to find a job. Everything from the way you look, how you carry yourself, and how you answer questions all go into the employer’s final judgment of whether or not to hire you. In essence, you are your own PR firm and it is your responsibility to put your best foot forward.

  31. Omar Pradhan says:

    I agree with the point made in the Silicon Huton blog that initiative and commitment are key. This reminds me of the advice you have frequently given about being a prospector. I also like the point made in the Forbes article about reaching out, through alumni networks, for information on China / India jobs. My thoughts on learning the language are that, to be truly indispensible in China, you need to learn the language. Language skills accelerate one’s ability to learn about the culture, establish guanxi, negotiate business deals, etc. I also like the point made about learning technical skills in the US for a few years and then moving ahead on a China prospecting trip versus just going head first with no previous experience, i.e. the Forbes point about trying to “navigate the morass of legal issues and relationship complexities of the business than about the technical and hardcore skills…” Given the point raised in a previous blog assignment (10 Reasons Why China Matters to You) about how China should be viewed as existing somewhere between 1890 – present in terms of having smart, thoughtful, sustainable policies on regulations, laws, etc., this point makes all the more sense. I also liked the following point raised by Aimee Barnes: #12 “Don’t race towards posting your resume on just because you’re desperate for a gig. In my opinion, it’s better to be broke and take something part-time to sustain you while maintaining focus instead of settling for the first opportunity that comes along. This is your life, after all. How do you want to spend the next 30-40 years of it?” This seems to contradict what other folks have said. However, the reality is, for those who get it, we only get one life to live…my favorite saying: “This isn’t your practice life!” Bottom Line: I agree wholeheartedly that we really should be thinking our commitments through…as carefully as possible (e.g. “The Sky May Be The Limit But Do Your Friggin Homework”); if our dream job is unavailable, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get distracted, but rather we should take a job that maintains the flexibly to move quickly when our path to fulfillment is revealed!

  32. Kevin K. says:

    My takeaways from these articles leave me with a sense that America and China, although culturally different, have similar business landscapes. Jobs these days are getting harder and harder to find, not just in the US, but in China too. Influxes of Americans will not change that, as China continues to be a contentious proving ground for those seeking employment.

    The Forbes article listed takes a look at the first New York Times piece and really gives it perspective. Yes young Americans were profiled for succeeding in China, and no they are not the only ones. However, as Shaun Rein writes, there are caveats to those thinking they can just launch a career in China and immediately be a mid-level executive. He states, “Unlike a decade ago, young Americans today compete for jobs with highly educated and worldly Chinese. Not only that, but they go up against older Americans trying to reinvigorate their careers.” Sounds like it’s tough sledding for everyone these days in the job market, although it doesn’t hurt to expand that pool from which you are searching.

    As an addendum, I’m curious if “value add” sounds just like a buzzword to everyone else? Whatever happened to just getting the job done, perhaps better than other potential job seekers.

  33. Vladimir says:

    I had my doubts when reading the first article about young graduates moving to China without learning any Mandarin. Finding a job in China is one thing, but why limit your options due to a lack of native language skills? Jack Perkowski says that Westerners with little experience should learn Mandarin, but that it wasn’t (and still isn’t) important for him since his value comes from his experience, not his knowledge of Mandarin. It’s not just where one’s value comes from, it’s also where one loses value. I don’t know what his day-to-day duties are and who he interacts with, but I think that he’s missing something by neglecting the language, even if he can get away with not knowing it. I would not want to isolate myself from direct communication with those around me or feel comfortable in a position of executive responsibility without knowing the native language. I think back to the air conditioner guy in the “To Catch the Cubs You Must Enter the Tiger’s Lair” video and how much more comfortable he would feel if he knew the language.

    Young graduates who want to go to China to try something new should know the two rules for China: Rule #1 “Everything is possible in China,” and Rule #2 “Nothing is easy”, as well as the advice “Anyone who thinks that the China road will be an easy one should stay away”. The quote from the NY Times, “A big draw of working in China, many young people say, is that they feel it allows them to skip a rung or two on the career ladder” makes it seem easy. As if starting a job in China equals being promoted twice in America in the same field. “I want to try something different” is not a good enough reason by itself to go work in China for three years. If I were considering working in China I would ask myself how it would add value to my career. Where do I see myself in three years? I would have a plan. If I were to travel to China my value-add that differentiates me for firms there would be my knowledge of Western culture. I would be the one who interacts with business partners in the United States. In the US, my value-add would be my experience, as well as my analytical and quantitative skills, the dedication to improve the quality of my team’s output, teamwork, customer service, and enthusiasm.

  34. Charles Dornbush says:

    Reading these articles give you an extensive idea of what i takes to land a job in China. It is not easy to find one there, especially from your bedroom here in the U.S. The conflicting articles of China as a “land of opportunity” and stories of people taking years to find a job in China lead to a muddy picture of what is available there. One thing is for sure: being an American who speaks English will not guarantee you a good job in China (unless you want to be an English teacher).

    For someone who has never been to China, it’s hard to imagine flying there unemployed and starting a job search on the ground there. If I was to look for a job in China I think I would start by at least trying to find contacts there. The pros and cons of your job search in China and the U.S. were weighed in these articles, and it seems a majority of “experts” recommend coming to China for the search. But I think that unless you were 100% committed to working in China, this would not be worth the risks.

    Finally I enjoyed the articles and videos of Jack Perkowski. I am familiar with his story. Tim Clissold’s book Mr. China is all about how Perkowsi and Clissold built businesses in China during the 90s when China was beginning to open up to foreign investment. It is a great read and incredibly entertaining. Mr. Perkowski seemed very optimistic about opportunities for Westerners in China, but I think he even recognized the need for a “value-add”. All-in-all, I don’t think I can even contemplate working in China until I visit there.

  35. Grant says:

    Shaun Rein was right to chastise someone who didn’t pick up the language in 3 years; they should have by then. The biggest take away from this was from the article that makes the point that, sure one needs to learn Chinese in China, but once you have done so, that doesn’t necessarily make you a golden child in America, and that you are out-languaged by 2.5 million native bilingual speakers. What matters is the rest of the value-add, not just language skills.

  36. Jeffrey Brown says:

    The main takeaway from the articles (especially Shaun Rein’s) is that while it isn’t easy to get a job in China, it is certainly possible if one is dedicated enough and plans accordingly. One should also not expect to receive immediate short-term benefits and in fact, should expect to see things a little worse (financially at least) with a job in China.

    I do not plan to go looking for a job in China any time soon but I am always keeping my options open. Were I going to apply for a job in China, I feel my value-add points would be very similar to those value-add points for domestic jobs or other opportunities. I am an innovative, self-driven individual, always striving for the highest in everything I do. I have a desire to improve the environment around me and make processes as efficient as possible. While my desire to improve the environment around me could potentially be harmful if asserted incorrectly, I am sensitive to others and look to gain support before any significant action is taken. I also have negotiation skills and am very much oriented towards innovative technology.

    I know I say I do not plan on working there but it is very possible that I may start a business that connects with China in some way or another. I think it is important for domestic businesses that are selling in or cooperating with customers in China to be able to list value-add points to potential clients as well.

  37. Georgia says:

    I think that “American Graduates Finding Jobs in China” made getting a job in China seem like a cake walk. I don’t think it’s typical for a person with an undergraduate degree in biology to start a business in China. I liked Jack Perkowski’s outlook that it is more about your value add-in than knowing the language, but was aghast that he basically bragged about not learning the language. I think moving anywhere and not taking the time to learn about the culture and language is rude and will come back to haunt you. I would rather learn at least a few phrases in Mandarin to use instead of standing there like Peter from “Brits get rich.”
    I liked Shaun Rein and Aimee Barnes methodical approaches to working in China. Although Aimee Barnes is biased it’s not cloaked, her article is called “Falling in love with China…And your career.” I couldn’t imagine going anywhere, especially out of the country, with nothing lined up. I think that anyone who is trying to find an easy way to a great job is kidding themselves. Moving to China isn’t some miracle solution.

  38. Fred S. says:

    I am glad to hear that most high schools in the United States are now offering Chinese as a foreign language to learn. In reading past blogs, it actually crossed my mind to call up my high school and let them know that it would be a good idea for them to add Chinese to the language program. I can see that knowing Mandarin will no be that bottomline “value” that you add to the company you are working for in China, but I can see definitely helping to set you apart from the rest of the MBAs.

    I have been looking for jobs and have seen a lot of the big US companies with open job opportunity listings in foreign countries such as China. I would be interested in taking such opportunities, but I would not want to stay forever. I would want an exit strategy. I am also trying to avoid being that guy that flies to China every other week from the US. That would get tiring. I mainly want to be able to see what opportunities do exist in China and gain a greater multinational knowledge from my experience there. I want to be able to add value to conversations with my future employers here in the United States about the opportunities I have seen in china. I feel this is important to the industries I am interested in, since much of the manufacturing is done in Taiwan and spreading into China. Like many of the articles said, you just have to get up and make the trip to China and see it for yourself. I feel that being able to say I have been to China, I have been in the small and large factories, I have talked with Chinese managers, I have navigated the cities, and I have experienced the culture of the East will be able to add value to a company here in the United States.

    Speaking of “value adds,” I can take note on the manufacturing processes used in the factories of China. In the manufacturing process there is wait time, move time, que time, set up time, and run time. Run time is the only value added time in the process. It is all about lowering all the non-value added times. The Japanese have always been known for having the most efficient factories and the Unites States has been trying to catch up for years. It will be interesting to see how the efficiency of the Chinese factories is. After all, the “black belt “ rating system for six-sigma systems was a notion that came from the ninjas of the East, be it that it was thought of in a bar.

  39. Ashley Tyra says:

    Unlike the New York Times article, Shaun Rein takes a more practical stance on looking for a job in China. Landing a job in China has many obstacles – like obtaining a working visa or accepting low paying wages. Today there is more competition:
    “Unlike the first rounds of Chinese, who studied in the U.S. during the late 1980s and early ’90s and mostly stayed in the States, younger Chinese are moving back home, both because of the opportunities available now and because of forbidding American work visa policies. Most companies prefer to hire these returnees, because they understand how to navigate China but also speak English well and have been exposed to Western practices and values.”

    For anyone who is considering finding a job in China, Rein suggest keeping these key things in mind:
    –Looking for a job from home is convenient, but not practical.
    –Try to find connections to people from China before you go.
    –If you are interviewing in China, leave enough time for multiple rounds.
    –Learn the language, it will benefit you in the end.
    –Consider starting a career at a school

    Finding a job in China is not easy. If someone is willing to put in the time and after, it can happen – but probably not until you are actually in the country with a great resume, better than the next.

  40. Keith Cody says:

    What most interests me about finding a job in China is what are the next steps? We have career fairs several times a year here at Cal Poly? Are their job fairs for working in China. I know that the Chinese America Semiconductor Professional Association has job events. But I can find little else.

    I know nothing about but they say “Working In China starts there.” promises a job in 90 days.

    I’m looking forward to the business trip. Hopefully the contact I make there will blossom into something more.

  41. Daniel Fleek says:

    The Forbes article “Should You Look for Work in China” I believe gives a good idea of the pros and cons of finding a job in China. It might seem easy to get a job over there because of their growing economy, but he brings out some points that we should remember before one invest themselves to this. First off, I think it is ridiculous that someone would fly all the way out to China for an interview then take a flight back home the next day. It’s not every day we get to be in China so why not stay around a bit. Also, I agree that if one is to commit to living in China, they should commit to learning Mandarin. He also identifies the key challenges to finding a job there in that there are much more Chinese businessmen who have come from China, studied in the US, and moved back to work, especially recently than from the US side. In fact, this is probably the main reason why learning Mandarin is almost required if you want to compete in the job market. This is why Jack Perkowski, who I was surprised didn’t speak Mandarin, got away with not speaking the language while living there because he was one of the earliest waves of businessmen when competition was not as bad.
    The advice given in Aimee Barnes blog also added some insight to having a successful career in China. For example, I can tell her persistence in her own experiences, which shows in her extensive prep list. She is very realistic of the job market situation and I agree with her that patience is very important and that it’s better to take on something part time until a worthwhile job comes around. In terms of some of the advice given from these articles, it seems as though the most important thing is to hone a skill while still in the US that one sees has potential overseas. Overall, although having a strong skill set would help one get a job in China, I agree with the “Young Americans in China” that if you are serious about China, don’t let little flaws such as your lack of Mandarin skills offset your goals. This was the case for Mick where he addressed this issue where there were “things that he could not do because of the language, he made many valuable contributions in the things he could. Every member of our Chinese staff told me how much they had learned from him” which I think is an important lesson for anyone interested in going over there. So in terms of what I could bring to China, I have realized that the value I can add besides having an overall grasp of business through the MBA program is the recent skills I acquired in negotiation class. This includes my skills in principle negotiation where I seek for win-win solutions between parties that cover the underlying interests and issues of the firm I work for, which I believe is an important asset given how important it is to make good, long lasting business deals with their booming economy.

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