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Want a job? Network, volunteer and find a passion

By Zhang Yangfei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-03 10:52

Costas Georgiou

Costas Georgiou, 27, from Cyprus, studied Mandarin at the University of International Business and Economics and now works for a law firm in Beijing.

I started studying Chinese in Beijing in 2016, and I felt a strong urge to stay here after the course was finished. So I decided to look for a full-time job.

I didn't know where to start at first. There was no one offering guidance or telling me what news to follow, so I decided to start off with the only option I could see - friends.

I turned to someone I'd met through a networking event and asked her advice. She referred me to a position in business development at LaowaiCareer, an online recruitment platform that specializes in helping expats.

As much as I enjoyed the job, I began to realize it was not something I'd like to do long-term. As my education background was in law, one of my colleagues introduced me to another internship opportunity at a law firm. I went there to help set up an international legal advice center.

After that, I received a full-time offer from HNA Capital, which meant I could keep living in Beijing. Last month, after a year and four months, I left HNA and joined a law firm.

Looking back on my job-hunting journey, the first piece of advice I'd give to any international student seeking opportunities in China is to start networking. Last year, when I was looking for a job, I had five offers - four of which came from people I knew through networking.

Those who want to make the most of their time and experience in Beijing, or who want to continue living here, should definitely attend networking events and workshops, or even start an organization of their own.

Network, volunteer, find something you're passionate about, and find other people you have common ground with. As long as you get yourself out there and try to help others in as many ways as possible, you'll eventually find something.

Equally important is skill development. Attending workshops and getting involved in communities is a good way to develop your skill set, like in presentation and public speaking. This will make you more employable.

Also, take up as many internship opportunities as possible, as they're a great way to discover where your heart truly lies. My first internship lasted two months. Even though I realized it wasn't something I wanted to do, it wasn't wasted time because it brought me a step closer to what I was really supposed to do.

From my experience, as the economy is growing and more Chinese companies are going global, more companies are beginning to welcome people who can make the working environment more diverse and give them a different perspective. So interacting with more people and acquiring diverse views will be highly valued.

Learn Chinese, know the culture. Some companies don't require you to speak Mandarin, but I'd say knowing the language definitely gives students a better chance.

Costas Georgiou was talking to Zhang Yangfei.

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