students who study abroad for their higher education are often called “sea
turtles” in China, referring to the homophone Chinese phrase “returnees from
overseas.” There was a time when Chinese students who obtained higher education
abroad were considered to be the most fortunate of their generation. Nowadays,
however, most study abroad students are being called “seaweed,” which wash up
on the shore with little or no prospect of finding work once they return home.
The time is past when studying abroad was considered to be the best career
shift in value of these returnees relates to changing employment prospects in
China. The advantage of a foreign education is less than it once was.
Specifically, studying abroad was key to developing strong language skills,
which were an asset in the workplace when China lacked human resources to staff
foreign corporations. However, as Chinese university education has improved,
language skills acquired abroad do not provide returnees with the same
competitive edge. A foreign education itself does not automatically
guarantee a high-paying job. These days Chinese employees are not particularly
concerned if the candidate has studied abroad or not. Rather, employers now
require more internship and work experience in the increasingly competitive job
market in China.
addition, it may cost a Chinese family ten times more to pay for their child's
overseas education. In consequence, returnees usually expect a higher wage for
their investment. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case today. Chinese
employers are looking for less expensive labor to reduce their overall costs.
The pool of graduates in China are more ready to accept what Chinese employers
returnees from overseas are no longer an item in China. According to the
statistics released by the U.S. Embassy in 2012, 194,029 Chinese students are
currently enrolled at U.S. universities, a dramatic increase of 23% over last
year. In fact, the number of undergraduate students from China in the
U.S. has doubled over the last two years. Millions of Chinese students with
degrees from foreign universities are returning to the homeland looking for
high-salary jobs. Pursuing the “American dream” after graduation—landing a job,
settling down, buying a home in the United States—is more difficult in the era
of the weak global economy. What´s more, Chinese students are now returning to
help their parents. “My parents are getting old, and they cannot adapt to the
western lifestyle,” some Chinese students expressed. “We have to go back for
our families, though I know it becomes much harder to get job with an education
high pressure from the competitive employment situation in China and great
expectations from family, the returnees also struggle with adapting their
western education to Chinese traditions. It has been suggested that
employers might regard people educated abroad as having a feisty
attitude. They´re not as compliant as others. While having a
Western approach would suit the management style in a multinational company,
having communication skills and adapting to local traditions are also traits
that Chinese employers look for in employees.
are eight tips from employers to sea turtles according to China Daily’s
article. (source http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-02/10/content_304574.htm)
Get rid of the sense of superiority and be prepared to compete on an equal
Don't limit the choice of your job location to the few metropolises.
Don't calculate your salary request by the cost of your overseas education, but
by the market rate of the position you're seeking.
Don't assume that the area of specialty that you majored in is still in high
demand when you graduate.
Fluency in foreign languages alone does not usually constitute a full slate of
job skills. One needs hands-on experience in a specific field.
ready to adapt your Western way of thinking to the Chinese way of making things
Knowing the market is not just window dressing. It is essential. Developing
what you're best at regardless of market needs may land you in a dead end.
prepared to make a leap of confidence and settle down in China. Managing a
business by "remote control" from abroad is not practical.
Seaweed gathering on the shores cannot deter
the increasing number of Chinese students from studying abroad. Whether a
foreign education is valued or not, this advice from an overseas student remains
valuable: Study hard for yourself; learning always helps you acquire a better
situation no matter what the competition. And, adapt to the market!