招聘WANTED for the 'Asian Century’: China-Savvy Graduates
Posted on Sep 19, 2012 / Author: Angela Merriam / Tags: Global Economy, Education, Culture and Communities, Asian Century, education, exchange programs, international exchange, language studies, professional development, university
If you’re now in university, your career will just be getting underway when China’s GDP overtakes that of the US—our biggest trading partner and economic lifeline.
Even before that, China will likely join the US as a global leader in high-tech innovation. Indeed, China has been increasing its R&D spending by around 20% per year for the past 15 years, and has begun to develop world-class research facilities.
As global commerce and research continues to pivot toward Asia (especially China), graduates with a basic knowledge of the region will become increasingly valuable to potential employers.
For this reason, it’s no surprise that many students planning to adventure abroad for travel or study are looking across the Pacific, particularly to China.
Many young Canadians will one day be competing for jobs in growing metropolises like Beijing, Xi’an and Hangzhou. Being able to point them out on a map and pronounce the names properly is essential. But more crucial than this is knowing that Xi’an is the hub of China’s aerospace industry—and that Hangzhou may overtake Silicon Valley as the centre of global technological innovation. And if you’re able to read this ‘招聘’you’ll be at an even greater advantage.
Those that begin developing Asia knowledge early on will have a head start in the 21st Century— and for them, there will be ever-growing opportunities because increasingly, China means choice.
China is a remarkably diverse place and options for lifestyle and culture range from cosmopolitan Beijing and Shanghai, to quickly rising cities like spicy Chongqing (with a population that nearly eclipses Canada’s), to bucolic villages in Yunnan and Guangxi.
Combine this with the fact that high-quality options for study in China are increasing—even for those that don’t speak the language.
Quickly rising in international rankings is the country’s nascent Ivy League—a group of China’s most prestigious schools, called the C9 Alliance.
Leading the C9 Alliance, Peking and Tsinghua University rank amongst the top 50 universities in the world. This puts both of them somewhere between the University of Toronto (#23) and the University of British Columbia (#51).
If you don’t speak Mandarin (the common language across mainland China and Taiwan) you can still study in English.
Some Canadian universities have English-taught study abroad programs bringing small groups of students to China.
Many universities also have partnerships with Chinese schools, which often allow credits for courses taken in a Chinese university to transfer easily to your home institution in Canada. This includes English-taught courses, which Chinese institutions increasingly offer at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Most of China’s best universities also offer graduate degrees in English, including MA programs ranging from business management to international relations to psychology. Many students in these degrees study Mandarin on the side, and find that their experiences open significant opportunities for work in China.
If you do speak Mandarin, or are interested in learning, options include: gap-year style language study (possibly scholarship-supported), a short course through your Canadian university’s partner institution in China, or even a full degree (taught in Mandarin) from a Chinese university.
Increasing numbers of Mandarin students are able to speak or read with advanced working proficiency. If this is your goal, an intensive language program could be invaluable. The most well known programs in China are the UC Berkeley-Tsinghua University IUP language program, CET Harbin and Princeton in Beijing. As a graduate of the latter program, I dramatically improved my professional language ability in a short period of time. Learning Mandarin is difficult—as David Moser explains in this classic essay—and good pedagogy makes the difference between sounding eloquent and relevant, or anachronistic.
If you’re really motivated to both improve your language and better understand your discipline through a Chinese lens, studying content classes in Mandarin is an increasingly popular option. More and more students are undertaking Masters or even PhDs in Mandarin at Chinese universities.
Given China’s ambitious goals to attract more international students, it’s not uncommon for international students to get full funding for graduate degrees at a Chinese university.
The Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program offers full scholarships for study in China. Some of Canada’s Confucius Institutes offer the same, especially for language or culture study.
In addition to these ‘pull’ factors, there are a number of ‘push’ factors coming from countries all over the world. Many governments have ambitious goals to expand the number and diversity of students going to China. The US is increasing awareness and funding mechanisms through its 100K Strong Initiative. Australia’s AddChina initiative offers guidance to graduate and postgraduate students on study options in China (full disclosure: I helped with the latter through my work at China Policy).
Numerous channels and opportunities exist for ambitious young Canadians to engage with China. What’s needed is a bit more awareness of available options—given this, I’m convinced many more of my generation will be up for the adventure.
You who take the initiative now—through researching potential scholarships, speaking to your relevant university advisor, or finding your own way—will stand to reap the professional rewards in the future.
But more importantly, studying in China will allow you to develop new ways of thinking, living and communicating that will open you up to a new world—a world that will be increasingly relevant in a globalizing and progressively Asia-centered century.
The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.