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.
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.