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Photo: Jaana Mutanen

The first Nordic Chinese Career Night held in China

About six years ago, the Finnish Russia Club in Russia started developing a concept for an event that would bring together together students, trainees and companies. Now, this concept has seen daylight in Shanghai, China.

Nordic Chinese Career Night was organised at the Nordic Centre at Fudan University at the end of October. The event was a joint effort within a project coordinated by CIMO and the Center for Markets in Transition (CEMAT) of the Aalto University and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

More than a hundred visitors attended the event. The number of people who were interested in the event was even higher, but one-third of them had to be turned away due to limited space. Students came to the event also from outside of Shanghai, some from as far as Guangzhou in southern China, which is a 14-hour train ride from the city.

How to work and find employment in China

Sofia Lähdeniemi from CIMO gave a presentation on the Hidden Competences research project. The key finding of the project is an extended understanding of international competences, which emphasises curiosity, productivity and resilience as fundamental competences needed in the working life of the future, alongside language skills, cultural knowledge and tolerance.

Piia Heliste from Aalto University hosted a panel discussion for Nordic employers in China. The representatives of the companies shared their experience of what it takes to find employment and do business in China and gave students valuable advice on networking, job-seeking and working in China.

Panellists were Mette Leger, Founder and Managing Director of Grow HR, Janelle Xu, Talent Acquisition Manager at Kone, Helena Svensson, Business Development Manager at Blue Air, and Alexander Petersen, a startup entrepreneur (eGISS) established in China.

“Everything is possible in China, but the competition is tough”

You have to be goal-oriented and persistent in order to find a job,” the panellists said. In China, creating and maintaining a professional network that includes people with a higher hierarchical rank is an absolute necessity. The right kind of drive and passion are important assets in the job market. Nordic companies, in particular, look for candidates with a positive ‘can do’ attitude.

The companies were able to market themselves as potential employers at the event. Emma Falck, VP, Greater China New Equipment Business at Kone presented both the company’s operations in China and the international training programme it offers for higher education students and recent graduates. “It is not easy to find competent and committed personnel in China, and the event was highly useful for us as a potential recruitment channel,” Ms Falck said.

The event ended in an unmoderated networking session between students and the representatives of the companies. Photo: Lu Wei

“The best lesson I learned was the importance of relations”

Students received lots of useful advice at the event.

“The best lesson I learned was theimportance of relations and of showing initiative in building them. The Chinese way of life places importance on work: working ten hours a day, six days a week leaves little time for life outside of work. Therefore, the Chinese do not make a clear difference between colleagues or partners and friends. Usually, only close friends share information on new job opportunities with each other. The more influential your friends are, the more opportunities you will have in working life. Thus, it is important to approach people who are older than yourself, participate at events and add your boss as a friend on Facebook,” Henri Särkisilta, student at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences says.

“The things I remember are the importance of networking and of being ready to step outside of one’s comfort zone and talk to people who have a higher hierarchical rank. I think the advice on professional self-respect was also valuable; one should not accept every job offer one receives. We must trust our own skills and be ready to promote them. Moreover, skills are not the only asset in working life, but personality and due consideration for others can also open many doors,” Maria Tervonen, student at the University of Turku summarised the lessons learned at the event.

By following these principles, you might land a job in China that did not even exist before you, the employers reminded the audience.

Tips from companies to students

  • If you want to succeed in China, be fast and bold.
  • Show that you are interested in Chinese culture.
  • Step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself.
  • Be brave, open and flexible.
  • Networking is everything: start discussions, show others that you want to know them, listen.
  • Set yourself a target, but be humble.
  • In China, decisions are made quickly, because there is always competition.
  • At the workplace, people from the Nordic countries are “team workers”, whereas the Chinese work as individuals.
  • “Believe it or not, most of the difficulties can be overcome in China eventually.”

Read more

Attitude is everything in Russia

CIMO in China

(25.11.2015 / Text: Jaana Mutanen and Sofia Lähdeniemi)

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