Friday, March 20, 2015

The 2015 SAIS-HNC Asia Career Trek

Most of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center student body is in Shanghai today for our annual Career Day.  We hope to feature pictures from Career Day in a future post, but in the meantime we have taken a look back on another opportunity offered through HNC's career services office: the Asia Career Trek.  Current HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student Dennis Hong reflects on the five day trek to Shanghai and Hong Kong:

Upon the conclusion of the first semester at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in January, I had a chance to participate in its annual Asia Career Trek, one of the most informative and educational career development opportunities available at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. Annually organized by Johns Hopkins University SAIS and HNC, the 2015 Asia Career Trek brought 20 students from all three locations of SAIS - Washington DC, Europe (Bologna), and Nanjing - to Shanghai and Hong Kong for the five-day meetings with representatives of various organizations. During my visit to these two prominent financial districts of China, not only did I have an invaluable opportunity to network with Johns Hopkins alumni working in a variety of sectors across China, but I was also able to form a better understanding on opportunities and challenges in entering the job market in Asia after graduation.

This year's Asia Career Trek included 10 students from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. All HNC students are eligible to apply for this annual career trek, and it is a particularly valuable experience for those interested in the field of banking, finance, and consulting, as many of the organizations we visited fell within the domain of financial services. Many of the participants also shared keen interests in seeking China-related jobs upon graduation. During the entire Asia Career Trek, I was once again able to reaffirm how critical some of the skills I have been developing at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center are for my future employment prospect, be it a bilingual fluency in English and Chinese or deep knowledge on contemporary China.

Shanghai: 1/18-20 The organizations we visited in Shanghai included a non-profit business organization, political risk, management, and start-up nuclear consulting firms, and a financial service company: American Chamber of Commerce, Wells Fargo, Deloitte, EcoLab, Nicobar, and Control Risks. These organizations had HNC and SAIS alumni presence, and hearing directly from them about their career developments since their departure from their respective institutions was an eye-opening experience. Some of the common themes that emerged throughout our discussion with these representatives were the importance of developing specific skill-sets needed for particular industries and effective networking in a job search. One of the representatives I met in the Wells Fargo Shanghai Office, for example, had previously taught a mini-course on Cross-Border Banking during the fall of 2014 at HNC. Reconnecting with him again was a great opportunity for me to establish a more meaningful relationship with him. I was also able to network with other HNC and SAIS alumni working in Shanghai through the occasion of the Student-Alumni Happy Hour hosted by the Johns Hopkins Shanghai Alumni Club during our visit.

Hong Kong: 1/21-23
Many of the companies we visited in Hong Kong also included some of the top financial services institutions such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Citi, HSBC, and Credit Suisse and consulting firms such as Kroll and APCO Worldwide. As Hong Kong is often considered to be the financial hub of the Asia-Pacific region, meeting with top representatives from these organizations on the ground provided me with a venue to have a thorough grasp on financial markets in Asia and daily life as a financial analyst or an investment banker. One of the representatives from Credit Suisse, for example, shared his experience from his time at Johns Hopkins SAIS during our visit, and I was very impressed by the level of his engagement with students. Many of the alumni I met over the course of the Asia Career Trek were willing to help us understand what it is like to work in the finance industry in Hong Kong and Asia. The networking event hosted by the Johns Hopkins Alumni Club of Hong Kong was another great opportunity to get to know them and hear their candid advice on career search and development.

In retrospect, the 2015 Asia Career Trek was a great success for me. As an individual

interested in working in a China-related field in the future, be it economics, finance, military, or foreign affairs, the opportunity to travel to Shanghai and Hong Kong and make a meaningful contact with fellow alumni who have been in my shoes before will surely have a long-term impact on me, as I continue to discover more about opportunities available in the years ahead. The second semester has just started at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and I am particularly excited about the upcoming annual HNC Career Day and Beijing Career Trek, currently scheduled for Friday, March 20 in Shanghai and April 27-30 in Beijing, respectively. They are great opportunities to meet HNC and SAIS alumni and more importantly for your career potential and development. China has drawn the world's attention in recent years, and studying at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center seems to have become more relevant than ever, especially with so many career-related resources available to its students.