In partnership with the British Council, who kindly provided the venue and refreshments, the Chopsticks Club welcomed a packed room of recent graduates and final year students with Chinese language skills to join our forum: Mandarin in the Workplace. We were delighted to be joined by Steven Bywater (Wei Consulting), Edward Holroyd Pearce (CRCC Asia), Ruth Summers (British Council), and Theresa Booth (Chopsticks Club) on the panel to give their insights on using Mandarin in the workplace, finding employment with China-related skills and many other employability nuggets of wisdom.
For those unable to make the event, here are our top takeaways on kick-starting a career with Mandarin Chinese:
1. Don’t focus on just using Mandarin language skills. Many attendees want to use their language skills straight away so as not to lose their hard earned knowledge. The panel concluded that although this is admirable, it may in fact limit your ability to get into the sector you want through Chinese alone. Instead, the advice was to focus in on the industry you’re interested in, regardless of the whether the entry-level position requires Chinese.
2. See your Mandarin Chinese as an excellent addition to a package of skills. Once you’re into the industry you’re interested in, your employers will very likely put your Chinese skills to good use. Make sure you present your skills well as a candidate to ensure your employers are aware of the resources you can offer.
3. A degree alone is not enough. Not only does Chinese require a good many more years of practice to conduct business confidently but you should also not rest on your laurels in terms of qualifications. Research professional qualifications that will add to your portfolio for example, start basic IT coding, polish up any other languages, check out online courses in economics and finance etc. Your goal is to build yourself into a credible candidate for a position, but who additionally has Chinese to offer.
4. Keep your Mandarin Chinese sharp with lessons. Just because your degree is over, doesn’t mean the studying can stop! As many of us who have let a language lie fallow know, your skills can go rusty very quickly. Invest in Chinese lessons while your language is not being actively used to make sure that when it’s needed, it’s reliably good. See link for Mandarin lessons in menu!
5. Be open-minded to different company structures. A guaranteed way to use your skills is setting up your own business - you’re never too young to start! Government agencies and large corporations have the resources and flexibility to move you to where your skills can be used, but smaller companies also allow greater scope for using language skills to open new business opportunities. Working for a Chinese company will give a deeper understanding of Chinese business culture, as well as improve your language skills in every day communications.
6. Do your research. It sounds obvious but making sure you know exactly what the company you’ve applied to does will make the difference between acceptance or rejection. Go into interviews knowing exactly why you want to work there and make the most of any interview tips and resources your university or friends can provide.
7. Network, network, network. With the vast majority of job opportunites not being posted online, networking is a sure-fire way to break into your desired industry. In addition, networking will get your name circulated and increase your chances of success in applications.
8. Becoming a member of the Chopsticks Club, giving you access to similar great events and can give you the edge in China recruitment. We also offer great members discounts on Mandarin Chinese lessons, events and business services - find out more and join today via: www.chopsticksclub.com/content/members
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