Job hunting is not the way to secure job opportunities anymore; job farming is. This is exactly why a group of visionary graduate students at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School planned the very first overseas career trek to China. Eighteen students from Carey’s Global MBA program, Flexible MBA program, MS Finance program, and MS Marketing program successfully completed a 7-day career trek to visit 8 international companies in 2 cities (Beijing and Shanghai) in China and conducted 2 alumni meetings to talk to Carey graduates who are currently in China about their successful stories and their career inspirations.
I participated in the China Career Trek as a student representative (GMBA’17) and a graduate assistant in the Career Development Office at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. I collaborated with amazing students from the Pan Asian Career Association (PACA) student club to help support the critically detailed logistics and risk management arrangements for the trek. I am writing this post with the mindset of pride and appreciation of the work of amazing Carey students who made the trek happen; it’s a pleasure sharing our successful stories with you.
Organizing a career trek is definitely not easy, especially when it comes to visiting companies overseas. Careful preparations involved risk management to secure student safety, communications with Human Resource managers at top employers in various industries, logistics arrangement in lodging and transportation, and much more. My colleague in the Global MBA program Puneet Ruparel has written the post “7 Tips on Running a Successful Career Trek” and I was influenced and inspired by his successful experiences.
In preparing for the China Career Trek, we gathered all participants’ emergency contact information, created a communication platform (a WeChat group) for all participants, assigned tasks to student volunteers so that jobs will get done (such as translation, directing the group to move in the crowd, resume collection and distribution to employers). When jobs are divided into smaller tasks, it is possible to hold certain people accountable and the trek can move on without many worries. This way, smaller achievements accumulate to bigger accomplishments and jobs are done faster.
If I were asked what was the most impressive and unforgettable moment in the career trek, I’d say it was our visit with KPMG in Beijing, not only because we learned a lot from the speaker’s informative session, which focused on China’s past and future development, but also because I learned that job searching needs both hard work and networking in order to harvest the best outcome. When I say networking, I’m not necessarily referring to showing up in career fairs or collecting recruiter’s name cards. It is planting seeds into a focused career network that can bring you correct insider’s information- exclusive information that is not available online. This information can further connect you to even more focused network that has the right and power to sign your hiring agreements. Johns Hopkins University has plenty of alumni working in KPMG, especially in Beijing and Shanghai, but so do other schools. However, we made it to the employer’s home base and showed our best selves to them.
During company visits, we were asked a lot of questions, some easy and some difficult, about the depth of our knowledge of the industry, about how good we are at getting jobs done, and about how we can tackle difficult situations professionally. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer to certain questions, because collective intelligence makes for better performance in a group setting. Overall, if everyone gets out there in the company visits and shows the best of what Carey students are capable of, Carey students will be more popular in the job market and more opportunities will show up in front of us.
When we were in Beijing, the alumni club in Beijing hosted students in a Chinese tea shop and alumni showed up to exchange ideas of how to make a successful career trek and what to expect from work in China as a graduate from American schools. The president of the Beijing alumni club Hao Yu (GMBA 2012) told us that career treks can be tough, because it’s hard to meet every employer’s expectations; but the most important thing is to never give up. When Hao was still studying at Carey, he himself organized more than 3 career treks in the United States. Some employers clearly told him that they did not sponsor international students, but he didn’t cancel the company visit just because there might have not been any employment opportunities. Rather, he worked hard to do research and prepare insightful questions. In the end, employers were impressed by students’ performance and provided guidance of internal application methods.
After a week of intensive schedule of meeting employers, I realized that the most important thing for business students is the ability to create and maintain good relationships with target employers/customers/business partners based on your continuing growing professional knowledge. Career treks can get us through the front door. Next, we have to put into practice everything that we’ve learned at Carey to prove that ‘doing business with humanity in mind’ is our great gift and it is what makes Carey students unique.