Every year, students from NYU Shanghai get internships across a diverse range of companies in Shanghai. Several of these are obtained through the Internship Fairs hosted by the school’s Career Development Center (CDC), but this year more eyes are falling on the bi-annual Career Fairs as students look for post-grad jobs. In an effort to help students find jobs to pursue, the CDC has expanded their events to host four fairs throughout the year: two internship fairs in Spring 2016, and two career fairs in early September 2016.
“The change from internship fair to career fair brought to students both new internship and full-time positions. Companies are excited that NYU Shanghai finally has graduating seniors, thus many new and diverse employers have started approaching us to recruit NYU Shanghai talent,” the CDC’s Assistant Director Hao Guo said. NYU Shanghai’s Career Fairs are RSVP-only, and due to space limitations, all employers are reviewed thoroughly and chosen on a first come, first served basis. “We welcome companies from a wide range of industries who have strong interest in the NYU Shanghai education model and talent. Moreover, we give priority to leading companies who show global vision in talent development and can offer positions for both Chinese and international students.”
After each Fair, employers often mention that they are impressed by the professionalism, communication skill in both English and Chinese, and high level of global horizon in terms of career goals demonstrated by the students at NYU Shanghai. Despite several visa restrictions on expats working in China, many employers coming to these fairs are open to hiring international students from NYU Shanghai if they show desired qualification and passion for the work.
However, despite the positive feedback from majority of the employers at CDC’s Career Fairs, the main question is whether or not the Career Fairs are helping the students.
NYU Shanghai senior Mike Chen commented: “People often don’t go to career fairs because they claim it does not ‘help’ or because companies like Google aren’t there to recruit. Since freshman year, I have been going to the NYU Shanghai Career Fairs with the mindset of networking, knowing that meeting someone can open doors to another. During my sophomore year, I got a solid internship opportunity at an international law firm through the NYU Shanghai Career Fair. Career fairs are a great resource, but students should not expect their hands to be held during these events. Job fairs are meant to push you out of your comfort zone and for you to experience how competitive the real world really is.”
Seniors disappointed with Career Fair results
“I was very surprised and disappointed to realize that majority of the career events were only for Chinese students,” senior Ilham Farah said. “Even if international students don’t have the right to work here, why aren’t they flying people over from Europe, the U.S., and other places in Asia?” When Farah asked this question to CDC however, the response was that it was too expensive to fly employers all the way to China. “Funnily enough, it’s not too expensive to fly three hundred students every year to visit the school during Admitted Students’ Weekend, but it’s expensive to fly a couple of companies that could employ us?”
There are strict laws about work permits and visas in China, which require all expats to have at least two years of work experience before working. Recently, however, news was released that a new pilot program, starting Nov. 1, will allow foreign graduates of local Chinese universities in Shanghai to find jobs in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone and the Shanghai Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone.
“I think it’s fair for me to be asked to speak Chinese if I want to work in China, but when I’m asked to be Chinese there isn’t much I can do about it. It is CDC’s responsibility to give an equal opportunity to all students, and as of now we are getting none,” Farah said. “I was left with the feeling that ultimately NYU Shanghai was meant for Chinese students to succeed, and that international students are only here to make the school look better.”
Several students at NYU Shanghai believe that the CDC does not offer enough resources to help international students. Veronica Hernandez, also a senior at NYU Shanghai, commented, “Even with the new law, many companies [during the Fairs] are upfront that ‘they don’t want laowais.’ I was told that verbatim at several booths at the career fair. I just wish that CDC would label their events/career opportunities as “laowai friendly” just so we know we are not wasting our time by going to these events.” Hernandez believes that majority of the resources seem to be put into jobs within China, mostly geared towards Chinese students, who already should have no problem finding good jobs as they are graduating from a reputable university in China. “All of the jobs are being handed to them while the international students are just being stranded,” Hernandez said.
Career Fairs have many “positive benefits”
In response, the CDC stressed that the most successful students focus on all the positive benefits from recruitment fairs and info sessions. CDC usually invites employers that, while focusing on promoting their Mainland China positions, are part of a multinational company with international branches. Since they are coming to recruit at NYU Shanghai for the first time, they start off by offering regional positions.
“[Employers] are eager to learn about the qualifications and interests from both Chinese and international students. Since most of these employers have global offices, it is a perfect opportunity for international students to impress the employers, and explore career opportunities in their branch offices. If international students do not attend, ask smart questions or show their interest, then the employers will have no reason to go back to their global branches to encourage them to recruit our students,” Guo said. “You never know where your next job lead will come from, and putting yourself out there to learn and network can only increase your chances for new opportunities.”
Other than finding job opportunities, career fairs can also be used by international students to get key insight into the Asian job market. The CDC believes that by not attending Career Fairs and the On Campus Recruitment (OCR) sessions available, international students at NYU Shanghai are missing out on valuable inside tips about job prospects, qualifications and employment trends.
“CDC is striving to bring in a range of opportunities, and while some may not be big name brands, the small and mid-size companies can offer a lot more growth potential with places around the world than the standard company,” Guo said. The smaller companies in a way represent NYU Shanghai’s mission by encouraging a non-traditional global career “that matches the trail-blazing interests and experiences of our students. It also reflects poorly on our university reputation as we are just starting out when our students are not open to attending the events or learning about different types of organizations,” Guo said.
CDC is currently planning to host another Career Fair in March 2017, which will provide several full time recruitment positions from a wide range of industries along with summer internship opportunities. While the format of the fair has undergone changes to enhance the event, such as the inclusion of mini company presentations and on-site interviews, feedback from students and employers is essential to help CDC make career fairs a bridge between students and employers.
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Photo Credit: NYU Shanghai