Putting talent on the fast track

Updated: 2014-04-04 07:47

By Yuri Khlystov (China Daily Europe)

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China set to attract more students from overseas destinations this year

Over the past three decades, China has led the world in economic growth and emerged as the land of opportunity.

In education too, China has made several advances. With Chinese universities steadily improving their global rankings, the number of overseas students coming to China for education has gone up. However, China accounts for a little less than 10 percent of all the international students. This is much lower than many other countries.

A recent study of the last school year showed that the US, which is the top study choice for international students, hosted over 800,000 students while only about 300,000 American students chose to study abroad. Students from China, India and South Korea make up about 50 percent of the 800,000 foreign students in the US.

As more companies in China go global, approaching foreign markets takes time, and understanding foreign culture from a Western perspective also becomes rather difficult.

However, companies in China are still quite skeptical of hiring people directly from overseas without getting to know them first. As a result, internships are now a very popular method for foreigners to get their foot in the door of a Chinese company and also a good way for Chinese companies to feel comfortable working with a foreigner before committing to a long-term contract.

This way the risk of hiring unwanted people is very low and it is likely the outcome will be beneficial to both parties. Even if you don't want to stay in China forever, you will have a much better chance of getting hired elsewhere if there is a China experience on your resume because it shows you are able to adapt to new surroundings.

Putting talent on the fast track

Knowing how important it is for today's youth to be studying and getting experience of working in China, countries like the US have charted plans to see more of their students go abroad. The Institute of International Education, for example, expects to have 100,000 American students studying various courses in China by the end of this year. There is also a growing belief that an international education gives students a global perspective.

A closer look at the HR industry in China over the last six years shows that employment opportunities are readily available for young foreign talent in China. Companies in China are hiring and more young people are heading to the Far East to gain international experience in one of the most important emerging markets on the planet.

In China, it is easier to make career advances and gain promotions than in the West. Knowledge of the Chinese language and culture will bring in added bonuses for career professionals and that is why it is not uncommon to see young Western professionals drawing up ambitious China plans.

Heading to China for an internship might sound exciting, but it can also prove to be a costly experience unless the internship includes housing - decent middle class apartments that at least resemble American dorm life (and not a developing country) cost around $800, which is not cheap for a student. It is better for interns to share living costs or apartments to keep a lid on expenses.

If you are a young, smart, ambitious person who is not afraid of challenges and looking for international career advancement, then you should certainly come to China. "Think Global Work Global" should be the inspiration for prospective interns.

China is still undergoing a historic infusion of new ideas and opportunities. Not only is experience in China extremely valuable for foreigners looking to advance their professional prospects, but if China is to continue to grow and lead the global economy, it must embrace new perspectives and outside talent.

Currently, there are only about 200,000 foreigners working in China. When you compare this to the 1.3 billion people in China, it is obvious that the country still has a long way to go in terms of infusing a global perspective into the local business culture.

Entrepreneurs, experts, artists, innovators, creators, and leaders in commerce and creativity - they all need to understand China and China must understand them too. So if you fall into any of the above categories, or if you are simply looking for some opportunity and adventure, now is the time to come to China.

The author is general manager of Gi2C Group Ltd.

(China Daily European Weekly 04/04/2014 page9)