On Saturday, 16 November, 2019, over 50 smartly dressed international students from Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School eagerly filled a bus destined for the First Overseas Students Internship Fair. The event is an initiative launched by the Nanshan Yuehai Sub-district Government Office, along with the Shenzhen Nanshan Southwind Social Work Service Center. It serves to encourage greater collaboration between Shenzhen’s international student community and firms based in Shenzhen. International students from the Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS) and the School of Transnational Law (STL) where given the opportunity to meet with representatives from firms such as Baidu, Oppo, Tesla, Intercontinental Hotels, as well as 50 other firms either founded in Shenzhen or with a large presence in the area.
The event was held outdoors in Coastal City’s SCC Building Square on a beautiful autumn afternoon. It began with a grand opening ceremony. Speeches from government representatives included Mr. Zhang Huawei, Nanshan District Standing Committee member and Secretary of the Discipline Inspection Commission, and Mrs. Yuan Li, Deputy Secretary of the Yuehai Party Work Committee.
The speeches looked to emphasize the vital importance of closer collaboration between firms based in Shenzhen and Shenzhen’s international student community. Attracting foreign students to Shenzhen and helping them integrate into Shenzhen’s vibrant economy is an important priority for the local government.
Furthermore, Mr. David Plekenpol, Chief Strategy Officer of AAC Technologies, shared some of his insights from 15 years of working in China with the international students. He advised students to be “adaptable” and “dynamic”, and offered powerful words of support: “If you are here today in Shenzhen, then you are in the right place,” he said.
At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, the internship fair swung into full motion with students eagerly and enthusiastically approaching the firms they were interested in. The sounds of polite salutations, inquiring conversations, and positive outcomes could be heard coming from all directions. Numerous resumes where being passed between hopeful students and curious firms as PKU students showed off their credentials. Moreover, the sentence “Can I add your WeChat?” seemed to be on constant repeat.
Jackson Collantes, 2nd Year Finance student at PHBS, spoke on his positive experience after the event, saying, “We got to know what kind of skills and profiles Chinese companies are currently looking for in students, so we can train ourselves better.”
Indeed, it was a learning experience for both companies and students. And everyone agreed this event is fulfilling a significant and growing need in Shenzhen. As Jackson put it, “I hope there will be more opportunities like this job fair in the future.”
Swetha Aratipamula, Finance student expected to graduate this semester, followed up with a round of interviews at Dotwell, a major advertising firm, just a few days following the event. As she waits for a possible offer, she said, “This [internship fair] was really great. We don’t know how to approach Chinese jobs.” But because of the event, she said, “I got three company invitations. I have been here (Shenzhen) for three years and have never seen anything like the internship fair.”
There was great support for this event from local government, major firms, startups, and international students in Shenzhen. This inaugural event clearly provided momentum to have this internship fair grow and expand in the future. PKU Shenzhen International Affairs Coordinator, Nathan Faber, added, “Shenzhen has the whole world talking about it. It now attracts and cultivates international talent. The next step would be connecting the international talent to the most innovative and influential companies, especially for those companies who want to become global players.”
A Nanyan Observer piece would not be complete without senior students sharing some advice to future students. Therefore, we shall highlight some important things we observed. We hope future alumni can take advantage of the advice.
1. Tailor your CV to a Chinese format
Did you know that resumes in China are tailored differently from conventional Western resumes? There are several differences between the structure of a Chinese CV and an American CV. For example, it is commonplace for a portrait photo to be present in the top right hand corner of the page. Therefore, it is recommended to ask your PKU classmates or other local friends to introduce you to the resume style.
2. Add firm representatives on WeChat
This one may seem strange to our international friends not familiar with China. However, as most communication is done via this app, it is much more conventional for recruiters to follow up with you via this app.
3. Translate your CV
This may seem obvious but many of the attendees wished they had done this looking back in hindsight. Translating your CV into Mandarin is a fantastic way to highlight your Chinese language skills, as well as increasing the likelihood of the HR departments reading your CV.
4. Opportunities exist everywhere
Obviously at these sorts of events, some stalls will be more popular than others. However, don’t be scared to approach the firms you may not be too familiar with. For example, one company offered their international interns free Chinese classes! The point is that don’t purely focus on internationally famous companies, as you may be more useful to firms with a less recognizable name.
5. Know some helpful Chinese phrases and pleasantries
If you’re a HSK 5 or higher or a Chinese language superstar than you don’t need to read this one, but for classmates without the strongest Mandarin skills, we would strongly recommend learning some general sentences. For example “我是北京大学深圳研究生院的研究生” or “很高兴认识您, 我们可以保持联系”. Learning some small niceties signals to the potential employers that you not only respect their culture, but also shows that you are learning their language, arguably the most important skill for international students looking to forge a career in China.
By Lewis D-G