Tuesday, April 2, 2013

HNC Career Day and the Upcoming Beijing Trek

HNC's annual Career Day in Shanghai gives students the opportunity to interact with professionals and HNC alumni currently working in China.  The day includes a series of panel presentations and opportunities to network with employers.  Read HNC Career Counselor Robert Shields' report from this year's Career Day in Shanghai and an update on the upcoming Beijing Trek below:
Career Day
On March 22, the HNC held its annual Career Day; a career forum where HNC students have the opportunity to hear insights and perspectives of nearly 50 distinguished professionals.  While there were many memorable moments from this year’s event, there were a few that I wanted to highlight. 
The event began with a keynote address from Han Lin, Senior Vice President and the Deputy General Manager at Wells Fargo’s Shanghai office and a member of the SAIS class of 2003.  Mr. Lin shared many lessons with those in attendance, but there were two that I felt were particularly important.  First, learn to sell yourself no matter what career you pursue.  “When I look at a resume, the first thing I look for is whether the person has experience selling something,” he stated.  The importance of the ability to sell permeates all industries and is ultimately an essential skill whether you work in government, NGO, multilateral, or private sectors. 
The second important takeaway was his advice for students to be prepared to allow their career interests to develop over time.  To highlight this, Mr. Lin used an example from his career prior to joining Wells Fargo.  When he was a member of the United States Marine Corps, he was in the Philippines when a volcano erupted.  The marines were called in to provide humanitarian assistance, which he truly enjoyed.  This prompted him to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Ukraine, something he hadn’t previously considered.  To me, the lesson here is not to become too entrenched in what your career must look like.  It will change, evolve, and develop with time. Let it.  
In addition to the keynote address, there were panels featuring a broad range of industries, such as Energy & the Environment, Finance, Consulting, Law, Government, and several others.  The panels gave students the opportunity to hear the perspectives of both young and more experienced professionals.  As the moderator for some of these panels, I can attest to the value of the advice panelists provided students.  For example, on the Entrepreneurship panel, Brian Linden (HNC ‘89) told students that his motivation for starting the Linden Centre stemmed from his desire to dedicate his career to giving back to China.  He stressed the importance of sacrifice and following your heart’s true motivation.  Shortly after Mr. Linden’s broader career advice, Terry Crawford of Initial View shared with students the specific steps he took to procure the licensure necessary to establish a business in China.  These experiences and many others gave all students ideas and perspectives that they can then apply to navigating their own careers.
At the end of the afternoon, panelists and students alike were invited to a reception at the Pullman Skyway hotel hosted by the Shanghai Alumni club which featured an address from Dr. David Chen, Vice President of Microsoft China.  Dr. Chen has led a most unique and distinguished career, spending 25 years working to establish GM’s presence in China and has now moved to Microsoft to oversee their China operations.  In addition to hearing from Dr. Chen, our students and alumni had the opportunity to enjoy some informal networking and a chance to build relationships that will likely prove professionally and personally significant moving forward.   

Coming Soon: Beijing Career TrekWith the conclusion of Career Day, the next major event for HNC students to meet with professionals and gain insights is the Beijing Career Trek.  From April 10-12, my Chinese colleague Niu Xiaohu and I will accompany 18 students to meet employers in government, non-profit, media, and law.  During these visits, employers invite our students to come to their offices to learn about their organizations and share their personal career paths.  This year we are lucky that several of the organizations hosting us will have HNC alumni present, including Greenpeace China (Li Shuo), the US Embassy’s Department of Commerce (Rosemary Gallant), the Gates Foundation (Matt Chitwood), and the US-China Business Council (John Lenhart).  In addition to our employer visits, there will be an alumni reception at the hutong headquarters of Project Pengyou hosted by our Beijing Alumni Association.  At this event all attendees will enjoy delicious food and spirits while hearing from our alumni in a panel moderated by American Co-Director Jason Patent.  Additionally, Holly Chang, the head of Project Pengyou, will speak about her organization’s involvement with the HNC. If you are a prospective student interested in attending this reception, please email me at rshields@hnc.nju.edu.cn.