ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services cultivates success for Chinese alumni

By

Courtney McCune

Of the many benefits an Arizona State University degree affords its graduates, one is the offer of lifelong career services to all alumni, in all corners of the globe.

To support this mission, ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services takes great care to build strong connections with employers and alumni around the world. These connections are especially important as ASU was recently ranked one of the top public universities in the nation for international students, with more than 13,400 international students from over 136 countries attending in the 2017–2018 school year.

One specific area of focus for Career and Professional Development Services' efforts is on behalf of ASU alumni from China. Currently there are nearly 4,000 Chinese students attending ASU and an exponential number of alumni.

With any international location, professional expectations and values will differ from culture to culture. Part of Career and Professional Development Services' work involves understanding the needs of international employers and the best ways to prepare students for those markets.

Experts with ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services responsible for leading global career initiatives in support of ASU alumni, have observed that China has its own set of standards that they look for in prospective employees.

A few of these include English proficiency, internship experience and an understanding of the importance of humility in the Chinese work environment. They are also expected to anticipate a lack of work/life balance for their first three to five years in the workforce and to understand the hierarchy of Chinese state-owned enterprises.

“In 2017, almost 80 percent of Chinese students studying overseas decided to return to China after completing their degrees,” said Cindy Parnell, executive director with Career and Professional Development Services. “Recognizing this trend and the fact that the postgraduation work authorization (H-1B visa sponsorship) held by many ASU international graduates typically ranges between one to three years, it is imperative that ASU deliver career services and cultivate employer relationships in a geographically and culturally-relevant way to optimize the long-term career success of our Chinese alumni.”

Career and Professional Development Services' work in securing this knowledge and applying it to advance the ways in which the university provides career support to international students and graduates involves traveling to China to meet with employers and ASU alumni. Earlier this year, Career and Professional Development Services participated in LockIn China’s Global University Career Development Conference.

LockIn China, a “global youth talent career development platform,” also recently visited ASU’s Tempe campus for the first time on Oct. 19, as part of their “80 Days Event for Overseas Talent.” Representatives held a workshop for students where they provided information relevant to their job search including resume writing and interviewing skills.

Career and Professional Development Services staff who work with Chinese students and alumni are aware of these cultural expectations and sharing these insights through reports and presentations. The team also offers a workshop to students each semester titled “A World of Opportunity: China Careers,” which features information on conducting a job search in China as well as being a competitive applicant in the Chinese job market.

Further, ASU recently joined a collective of other U.S. universities called the American Universities’ China Association, which coordinated a series of career and professional development events in three Chinese cities in July and August of 2018.

The events took place in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing and focused on professional development training with human resources professionals and a career fair with a variety of employers in China.

Xiao Lan, an ASU alum who graduated in 2015 with a finance degree from the W. P. Carey School of Business, attended one of the recent career events in China. Xiao felt the event was useful in a number of ways.

“I communicated with some of the top companies’ recruiters to get more information on the job market. Plus, I could talk with workers and alumni of universities on my application list for graduate schools,” he said. 

Xiao also took advantage of ASU’s career services offerings while on campus, using the resume review service, accessing Career and Professional Development Services online career search platform and attending an on-campus career fair for summer employment that helped him land a position at Wells Fargo.

“ASU students and alumni benefit by having access to career content and career opportunities so that they are prepared for the realities of entering the Chinese job market, setting them up for greater — and more rapid — success,” Parnell said. “Global employers benefit by gaining access to a talent pipeline where innovation is embedded as a cultural norm and where 'master learners' are created.”

Parnell believes that when it comes to career success for Chinese students, collaboration is key. To support this mission, she works closely with multiple units across the ASU enterprise, including members of the International Student and Alumni Action Team.

ASU’s Alumni Engagement and Impact Office and multiple student clubs and organizations also provide invaluable support. Key organizations supporting these efforts include the Coalition of International Students and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, according to Parnell. 

“We are grateful that ASU cultivates a boundless environment where silos are removed to the benefit of serving our students and alumni in all aspects of their development, including their career and professional development.” Parnell said.