New occupations for the new era

By CUI JIA | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-01 07:28
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Chen Cong, a part-time "pet sitter", walks a golden retriever for a customer in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in March last year. [PHOTO/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

Changing interests and needs have given rise to alternative professions

Cao Jiangnan, a graphic designer in Shanghai, started doing a part-time job — cooking for people at their homes — last November. "Many young people are tired of ordering takeouts, and just want to have a hearty home-made meal once in a while. This demand is surging, so the new occupation has become increasingly popular," the 26-year-old Cao said.

People's new interests and needs, in the new era, have led to the emergence of new occupations in niche areas of consumption in China. For example, room escape games popular with youngsters have incubated new professions, such as room escape game scriptwriting. The profession of hospital helpers, whose services include helping people to get an appointment with a doctor or fetching lab test results, has also emerged in recent times.

Most of the new occupations are favored by young people because they are more flexible, suit their interests, and provide a platform for them to pursue their dreams and adhere to their personal values.

Cao first came to know, through social media, about cooks/chefs making food for people at their homes last year. As someone who enjoys cooking, he believes it's a good opportunity to earn some extra money and meet new people during his free time, so he posted the first advertisement on providing in-home chef service on social media on Nov 1.

He provides the service only on weekends and public holidays. Also, his clients need to provide the ingredients needed for preparing the dishes of their choice. He charges 88 yuan ($12.76) for cooking up to four dishes and 168 yuan for preparing about 10 dishes. For dish-washing, people need to pay 20 yuan extra.

"I was surprised by the number of people who contacted me after the advertisement was posted. And they didn't mind that I am not a professional chef. In fact, they prefer an amateur because they just want to have earthy home-made food," Cao said.

Cao visited his first client's home on Nov 5 last year and made five dishes including braised pork in brown sauce, shrimp in garlic sauce and steamed fish for lunch.

"The family was really kind to me and I enjoyed cooking. They even invited me to join them for lunch. Actually, all my clients are polite and nice to me; they are glad that they can find someone to cook for them so conveniently," he said.

Part-time option

Cao then shared his experiences on social media. Besides making appointments, many have commented that they, too, are interested in taking up such a job, which is new to many.

Unlike traditional domestic service providers who are mainly middle-aged women, many who find such occupations appealing today are young people, Cao said. What's more, his clients are mainly young people, including young women living alone and young couples.

"Many of my clients live in Shanghai because they work there and are far away from home. They just want to have someone to cook for them; it gives them comfort and makes them feel as if they were at home with their loved ones," said Cao, who is from Jiangxi province.

"I've met many interesting people during the process, which means more to me than the extra income I make."

Security concerns are not an issue for him, he said, because he chooses to trust the strangers that he cooks for just like his clients find him trustworthy enough to invite him to their home.

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