Young Professionals Panel Recap

Inside The Mind Of Young China

As Hutong School co-founder Jan Wostyn once said, supporting young professionals is part of Hutong School’s DNA. Last time we organised the “Millennial to Millennial” with six expat young professionals. This time we wanted to offer young professionals in Shanghai the chance to get real insider information on working in China from a Chinese point of view.

Last Thursday, we welcomed five successful Chinese young professionals to sit on our panel: Inside The Mind Of Young China. Larry You, Lu Jin, Summer Xia, Walter Yang and Kaitlyn Peng all worked abroad, before deciding to come back to China and continue their careers here. Unfortunately, it was a grey and rainy day, but the delicious Belgian beers and crispy deep-fried snacks courtesy of our hosts at Red Cactus helped warm us up and get the evening off to a good start.

First there was time for some networking or catching up and then we started the panel discussion, during which we spoke about breaking down cultural barriers, the Chinese workplace, getting hired and more. Our panellists shared their experiences of working abroad and particularly coming back to China, talking us through their personal process of finding their current job. One of the main reasons they decided to stay in Shanghai was due to the city’s rapid development and the abundant opportunities that can be found here.

Thanks to their experiences abroad they were able to compare the Chinese and the Western workplace on several fronts and also highlight differences in the hiring process. For example, the panellists agreed that interviewers in China ask many more personal questions and tend to hire people they can relate to. Also, they agreed that a resume with a photo plays an important part, but they disagreed on whether shifting jobs was downgrading for the applicant or not. Some believed that it could be considered a bad move because it might suggest that the applicant is not a very reliable person and cannot be expected to stay in one job for a long time, while others argued that on the other hand, employers may value the experience someone can gain from different roles and in different fields.

When asked whether guanxi (connections) were important, Larry answered, for him, it was not. When he has to hire someone, he does not care about the person’s connections or network. Rather, he cares about the skills the person has and whether he is suitable for the job. Even though Walter agreed with Larry that it’s not all about guanxi and it will always be narrowed down to one question: “What value am I bringing to the company?”, he argued that a network comes in handy when it comes to reaching the interview phase in the first place before you have the chance to show them you are suitable for the job.

When someone in the audience asked whether it was best to simply go to Shanghai and start looking for a job there or whether you should find a job beforehand one panellist answered: ‘‘it depends on how rich you are”. Since building a network and attending interviews costs time, if you have money and you can stay in Shanghai for a bit longer, it’s not a problem to simply start looking for a job when you are there. However, if you are low on money and short on time, you need to establish a network beforehand and really do your research, thus minimising the time you have to spend in Shanghai before you secure a job.

Our panellists kindly shared insider tips and answered several questions from the audience. After the panel and the Q&A, we had another opportunity to do some networking, enjoy the Belgian Beers and delicious Belgian chocolate, lucky us! All in all, it was a very informative evening. Thank you, Larry, Lu, Summer, Walter and Kaitlyn for sharing your experiences with us, and also a big thanks to the guests and the staff of Red Cactus for helping make this evening such a success!


If you’d like to learn more about our panellists, take a look here, or check out our previous young professionals panel

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