Tuesday, October 28, 2014

US Consul General in Shanghai, Hanscom Smith, Visits the HNC

HNC MAIS student Emily Shea reports on some of the recent career-related activities that have taken place at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center:

Hello again!

If there’s one thing that’s always being talked about among Center students, it’s post-graduation plans. Recently at the Center we had two career-related presentations, the first was a visit from the US Consul General of Shanghai, and the other was our introduction to the Career Services Center on campus. 

The Consul General and other consulate staff that came to the Center began by telling us
about the consulate’s purpose and mission and ways that the consulate can help us with while we’re living abroad, such as passport services and travel safety information. After the presentations, there was a Q&A session. The questions centered on careers in the Foreign Service and reflected just how many students at the HNC are interested in this field. Many students, including myself, have at one time or are currently looking into the Foreign Service as an opportunity to explore the world and get paid doing it! Because there is so much interest in the Foreign
Service, having the Consulate General and his staff come to us and candidly answer student concerns was an incredible asset to us. Students’ questions ranged from the Foreign Service lifestyle and having a family, to the Foreign Service examination and career flexibility after being accepted. I was able to further clarify my decision that the Foreign Service, while exciting, is probably not for me, and I’m looking forward to similar presentations in different fields as I think about my career options.

The second information session we had was on Career Services at the HNC. We got to meet our career counselor, Robbie Shields, and hear his general advice on how to use the Center’s resources and prepare for our next steps after we leave here. Robbie’s words could not have found a more attentive audience. While we have a wide variety of backgrounds at the center, from people like me who graduated last June to people with 5+ years of work experience, everyone is eager to get the most out of the Center in terms of having an advantage in our future careers. Robbie gave very useful advice, such as integrating your career interests with your studies, starting to invest in your career development early on, and working on identifying your interests, strengths, and areas for improvement. He also discussed online skills courses and “career treks,” small group trips to Beijing and Shanghai corporations, that the Center offers.

The next week, I also met one on one with Robbie to get more targeted advice for someone in my position, having no job experience outside of tutoring Chinese and with a limited understanding of what I hope to do. He gave me suggestions on more concrete steps towards achieving what is most important for me right now: clarifying my interests and abilities, and getting a better idea of what I might enjoy doing.

Overall, these events have gotten mine and other students’ wheels spinning when it comes to career development, and as Robbie advised us, the earlier the better! I am already appreciative of the combination of support and opportunities provided at the Center. It has been a great start to the career-focused contemplation, research, discussion, and decision-making that will be an ongoing process for the next two years.