Students are finding alternatives to bleak job prospects in the United States by looking east to the thriving Asian business market.
According to Barbara Hewitt, senior associate director of Career Services, Wharton students are more interested than ever in pursuing jobs in the Far East, particularly in China.
“I think in the past students tended to think that New York might be more of a financial capital and a place to start a career, and certainly I still see some of that, but I think that Hong Kong is absolutely a huge financial market, and people are seeing a lot of benefit to having that international experience and knowledge of the Asian market,” she said.
Hewitt added that investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, which have branches in Hong Kong, are the most prominent recruiters on campus. However, she does not believe China’s economy will replace the United States’ in terms of student popularity.
“I don’t know if it’s an ‘either-or’ situation, but I think they are both very good places for opportunities, depending on whether people want a U.S.-based experience or an Asian-based experience,” she said.
Mauro Guilen, director of the Lauder Institute and a professor of international management, finds that most students heading to Asia to find jobs and internships are already interested in working abroad, though he has noticed a slight change in attitude.
“Now [students] are more focused than before in terms of looking for jobs,” he said.
According to Matthew Bidwell, a professor of marketing at Wharton who studies employment patterns, seeking jobs in Asia has become increasingly popular among students of Asian descent.
“There are a bunch of people who do figure that there are more attractive opportunities in Asia even if they don’t know much about Asia or have a background in the area,” he said. “Nonetheless, that’s where they think the action is, which is probably right.”
But even with an Asian background, working in Asia can be challenging.
Though Wharton and College freshman Timothy Chai had lived in China for three years, he did not feel acclimated to the culture in Beijing, where he had an internship last summer.
“I was basically a foreigner in China,” he said.
Chai also noted the worldwide appeal of China’s economy. “I worked with a ton of expats,” he said. “All the companies in the office I worked at were all multinational.”
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