College graduates now searching for the Chinese Dream

Updated: 2014-11-12 13:38

By Zhang Yuwei(China Daily USA)

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Several years ago, many Chinese graduates of universities in the United States - especially those who majored in finance - would try to land jobs on Wall Street and start building their American Dream.

Today, the trend is reversing.

Chinese firms sent representatives to two job fairs in New Jersey and New York City over the weekend to recruit talented graduates to return to China.

The New Jersey event on Nov 8 was sponsored by Zhejiang province in East China. The aim was to attract workers to companies in that province, the capital city of which, Hangzhou, is home to China's e-commerce giant Alibaba.

On Sunday, the job fair for finance graduates at the 18th conference of the Chinese Finance Association in New York became the highlight of the event. More than 100 Chinese job-seekers - dressed up and looking sharp - lined up to speak to recruiters from leading Chinese financial firms, including the CITIC Group, a state-owned investment group in Beijing; and Fosun Group, China's largest privately owned conglomerate.

"I am here just to meet CITIC," said Shen Dan, 24, an associate with a Canadian investment bank in New York.

Shen, a Jiangsu native, received a master's degree in finance two years ago from Fordham University in New York. After working for the Canadian bank for two years in one of the world's financial hubs, she said she is thankful for the experience but prefers to return to China.

"In the longer term, China offers better opportunities for me, especially for career progression," said Shen.

College graduates now searching for the Chinese Dream

"In a Chinese firm, I can bring in my US education and work experience in a foreign investment bank and that can give me better opportunities to climb the corporate ladder compared to working in a foreign bank or investment firm," Shen said.

Xu Hao, 24, a May finance graduate of New York University, agreed.

"With the opening of China's financial market, more services and products will be developed, which will offer me a good platform to show my skills gained in the US," said Xu, who works for a hedge fund.

Xu's first choice would be CITIC, but unlike Shen, he could only submit his resume instead of having an on-site interview.

"I hope they will contact me after seeing my resume," Xu said.

Li Bin, a hiring manager with CITIC Securities, said: "With the internationalization of our company, we are looking for overseas graduates, in particular those from the US universities."

Li met about 20 job applicants on Sunday and said some merited a follow-up.

"But our hiring process is quite competitive, and we are looking for talents with an overall package, not just the finance knowledge," Li said.

CITIC's US recruitment tour is in its sixth year, Li said.

"These graduates' bilingual skills as well as the knowledge of the US and overseas markets is definitely a plus as we have more cross-border business projects," Li said.

Zhang Qiang, the chief investment officer of E Fund Management (HK) Co Ltd, said he understands the Chinese graduates' reasons for returning home.

"I made the same decision in 2009 after I worked on Wall Street for nine years," Zhang said.

"But a Western education and work experience abroad doesn't necessarily make these applicants stand out if they don't understand that the Chinese market is very competitive with [their] peers graduated from similar majors in China," Zhang said.

"They have to show their passion and the go-getter spirit," he added.

Shen agreed.

"My weakness is - despite my US education and work experience - the lack of understanding and experience of the Chinese financial market," Shen said. "A lot of things I have gained here cannot be immediately applied in China."

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