American Graduates Get On the 'Go East' Band Wagon

Shiho Fukada for NYTI recall how my dad always used to remind me as a kid that the future for up-and-coming jobs would be in China. I brushed it off since, what can I say, I’m a proud, native New Yorker — loyal to my idolization of the Big Apple as the prime location to build your career. I still heart NYC, but oh was he right. The “Go East” movement has been picking up its speed. Not only is this a ‘reverse migration’ trend for Asian professionals in the U.S. to return to Asia for better job opportunities – but now even American graduates are being drawn toward the east with China as the main attraction.This New York Times article provides several success stories of students and recent graduates of various premiere universities, such as Barnard College and Harvard University, who found summer internships and job positions mostly in Beijing and Shanghai.

Sarabeth Berman, a 2006 graduate of Barnard College, who landed a job at BeijingDance/LDTX, confesses “There is no doubt that China is an awesome place to jump-start your career. Back in the U.S., I would be intern No. 3 at some company or selling tickets at Lincoln Center.”

Since many of us can relate to the dread of succumbing to the role of “intern No. 3” post-graduation, this article is encouraging  — full-time jobs are actually available for us. And what a golden opportunity it is — not only can you move up the ladder faster than you would here, but you can travel across the world for an exciting, brand new cultural experience, bringing back with you valuable international relation skills.

Plus you don’t have to worry about the language barrier being an issue in your job application — you’re wanted for the skills you already have. Once you’re there, you can easily pick up Mandarin anyway, since you are living in China.

The artistic director of BeijingDance/LDTX described her willingness to hire Ms. Berman, who landed a position at her company as a program director. “I needed someone who was capable of communicating with the Western world.” She goes on to say how Westerners have skills that are harder to find among the Chinese.

We’re quite fortunate that we’re at a time where graduates can easily think on an international scope when sending out their resumes and jump-starting their careers. The future for American graduates is now even more up in the air — who knows if your future job will take you to Los Angeles, Chicago or — Beijing?

Photo by Shiho Fukada for the New York Times, from their article, "American Graduates Finding Jobs in China"