Where Are You From?
There are certain moments in life where you have to make a decision that is going to have a serious impact on the rest of your life. It could be as simple as choosing not to do something that could lead to serious trouble or injury to yourself or someone else. It could also be as complicated as choosing a major in a field you can see yourself working in for the rest of your life.
When that day comes, and you are a college graduate, depending on the area you have chosen to get into, there may be an abundance of opportunities. If you are lucky, that abundance will include opportunities overseas in countries like China, as well as at home.
Yes, China—but why?
The answer to that is simple—why not? Here you are a 21-23-year-old college graduate or maybe you are in your mid-20s and a few years removed from school. At this point in your life, you will have more power than you ever will in your life. You can do anything. Do you want to follow a rock band on tour? Do you want to take in a game at every NFL stadium this year? Or how about learn to surf on the famed Northshore of Hawaii?
Do you want to see the world? Do you want to live the adventure of life or be the guy that thought about it, decided against it, and still lives in his mom’s basement when he’s 30s. The only thing holding you back is fear. Fear that you will fail. Fear that you can’t succeed. Fear of trying without the safety net of home. That and the money it would take to pay for it, of course. So what if you could do it? What if you could see the world, have someone else foot the bill, and pay you a lot of money in the process?
Don’t take a job at the firm your dad’s buddy runs. Take one in China instead as China will provide you with anything you would need.
Why go to China?
Yes, it would be an adventure, but it is one worth taking? After all, it is so far away from home, everyone, and everything you know. But if you had familiarity to fall back on, what kind of adventure would it be?
Making the decision to work in China is not an easy one, but if you take a look at some of the reasons why it is hard not to wonder why more people aren’t doing it. China is a land of opportunity with a robust, thriving economy. The work will be challenging and fast paced, but you will also get the opportunity for more responsibility now than you would for an American company. The process of gaining the experience may be hard, but it will be invaluable in the long run. With how the Chinese economy is growing, a demand exists in many fields. Some are willing to pay top dollar to entice foreign workers into coming to China. With the lower cost of living there, this means you will have the opportunity to save a lot of money.
You will be very happy you have money when you move back home
How much? A Forbes article in 2015 estimated that the total value of the compensation package offered mid-level managers was $276,000 (salary, benefits, lodging, utilities, etc.). Will it be easy? Absolutely not, but if you can handle the challenge of living and working in a culture completely foreign to you a person can gain more experience in a year than they would have in five working a similar position in the United States. Which looks more impressive to future employers—working as a mid-level manager in Omaha or working as one in Beijing, China?
Once you accept the idea of working in China, it is understandable for a person to wonder why a company in China would want them to work under them. To gain an understanding of that, it helps to take a look at the Chinese economy.
According to nominal DP, it is the second largest in the world. It has been growing at an impressive rate for years. While the recession hit many countries hard, all it did in China was slow down growth; not stop it. It is the largest manufacturing economy in the world and the largest exporter of manufactured goods. However, while all signs point to future prosperity, the country is changing. The population, and hence the workforce, is getting older. The quality of education could be better, there are environmental issues, and social inequalities to be dealt with as well.
In the years to come, the country is hoping to convert to an economy driven by consumer spending and other market forces. Such a change is going to take time, experience, education, and manpower—all things the Chinese workforce is lacking. Rather than risk a fall from grace, Chinese companies have decided to look abroad to fill their staffing needs.
China has an ancient and different culture
A new culture can be a scary thing to deal with, and not something everyone is willing or capable of adapting to. While it will make living and working in China more challenging, it is also a chance to learn how people on the other side of the world from everything you know live. What better way to gain an appreciation of what you have or don’t have then to see how other people live? Dealing with the culture in China can be tricky, but if you adhere to a few rules, you can blend in in no time. They may seem foreign to you, but abide by them and you can avoid a lot of unpleasant issues:
- Be humble when complimented. Accept one with too mc bravado and you embarrass yourself and the compliment giver.
- Do not ever cause someone to lose face. People in China take the idea of respect very seriously. Appear to disrespect them or encourage others to do, and you are asking for trouble.
- Do not get angry in public. Doing so can be seen as causing whoever you are yelling at to lose face.
- Do not address people by their first names the first time you meet them.
- Before you drink, make a toast. Take the chance to compliment your host or show regard for someone else at the table.
- Always offer to pay the bill and never let someone else do so without putting up a fight with you.
- Always show up with a gift, but never accept one without resisting a few times at first. You don’t want to appear too greedy or needy.
- Sometimes it can be more beneficial to know the family history of someone rather than their work experience.
Shake someone’s hand with both hands before offering your own.
- Executives will make decisions based on a gut feeling and their personal experience so be sure and make a strong first impression.
Immersing oneself in a culture so different from what you are accustomed to may seem like an unnecessary challenge to living, but it can also make life more challenging and enjoyable. You will never look at a dinner party at your parents’ house the same again.
Teaching English in China
So you have graduated, you don’t have a job, and you are not sure what to do next. Your friends are going hostel hopping as they backpack across Europe. While avoiding the real world for a couple of months sounds nice, the idea of sleeping in hostels does not appeal to you. You are open to the adventure but would rather do something else.
You are open to moving to China for work, but you have no idea if there is demand for someone with your skill set—whatever it is. Lucky for you, there is high demand in one workforce that is not dependent on your degree.
China needs people to teach English
At first, the notion may not appeal to you since you did not go to school to become a teacher. As it turns out, it doesn’t matter what your degree is in. English is one of the most commonly used languages in the world. As the Chinese economy grows, companies need people that can speak English to conduct business with companies in other countries.
So rather than demand highly qualified instructors for teaching English, all that is typically required is being a native English speaker. The preference is to get someone that is actually from the United States. It gives the students a little more confidence in their instructor; enough so even if they are not from the U.S. schools will tell students their teacher is indeed from the U.S.
A college degree is not necessarily mandatory (though legally required), but it can certainly help you get a job in one of the schools. If teaching English, the discipline is not relevant. Employers are more impressed with actual teaching experience than they are anything else. Many will be happy if you have a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).
Salary in China
Compensation will usually include an excellent salary, airfare to China, and various perks. Schools will typically help you get whatever paperwork you need to file with the government in on time. So if you want to give working in China a try, look into teaching English. The chances are good that you will Explore.
So you have decided that the idea of taking a job in China sounds like a good one. You are open to the challenge, don’t mind the cultural differences, and work in a field that is in demand. However, you are afraid that unless you learn the language, you are going to be bored and have nothing to do when you have free time.
Whatever will you do?
The answer to that is easy—explore. You will be living in one of the oldest civilizations in the world. History and culture are everywhere as well as a host of tourist attractions. Everyone has heard about the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. But what else is there? In a country that covers almost
9.6 million square kilometers—plenty.
Other walls than the Great Wall
If you liked the Great Wall, give the Xi’an city walls a try. The Chinese built these massive stone walls around their cities hundreds of years ago, and the walls at Xi’an are some of the most well-preserved in China. If you enjoy learning about different religions, you will like visiting The Three Pagados. Built back in the ninth and tenth centuries, these Buddhist structures have managed to remain in good condition for hundreds of years and spite of some natural and man-made catastrophes. They are located in Dali City in the Yunnan province and are considered a national treasure. Nature lovers can get their fill of mother nature at China’s first national forest park, the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park located in the Hunan province.
For nature of a different sort, there is the Shilin Stone Forest in southwest China. The stones stick out from the ground like stalagmites in a cave and are believed to be over 270 million years old. The country is full of historical points of interest and beautiful territory. So much, that the only way you will ever be bored is if you stay home and never leave your apartment (other than for work).
Deciding to live and work in China is a big decision for anyone, but one from which you can benefit greatly. Along with getting paid well, you can gain work experience that would take you years to get at home in a short amount of time. Yes, it will be a challenge, but what is life without a few challenges? It is just like that boring show that famous actor was in that no one watched and was canceled after two episodes.
It isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. However, when your time is over and you return home you will be better equipped to handle the challenges of life than you were before you left. You will know there is a whole different world than the one you grew up in. Oh—and you will have a lot more money in your bank account than anyone else in your graduating class as this is better for you ever.