From Canterbury to Beijing: follow the yellow-brick road

Way back when graduate law jobs grew on trees, having an LLM Master of Laws meant companies rolling out red carpets for you. Now? It means get a ticket and get in line; a line that only seems to be getting longer every day; a line that can lead you as far as China.

These days, it takes a graduate to understand the psychological warfare inflicted on a person while job-hunting; the desperate search for vacancies in your sector, the struggle to stand out, the sleepless nights applying, the endless wait for a reply and the gut-wrenching rejection letter which always quotes “unfortunately, on this occasion you have been unsuccessful”. What happens though when ‘this occasion’ becomes every occasion? Well, that’s when you follow the yellow-brick road to China.

The idea came to us one night when we were performing our daily ritual – couch, comfort food, job hunt.

We stumbled across an article about British students fleeing to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in search for a better chance, or even just a chance, of getting a job. It took less than five seconds for us to decide to apply. You see, when you get rejection letters every day for 7 months you find yourself in a state of hazy mild hysteria, so you apply for an internship at the other end of the world thinking that you have nothing to lose since rejection letters have become your morning paper

And suddenly there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

CRCC Asia is an organisation which, for a fee, links graduates to a range of companies, in all sectors, in Beijing and Shanghai for one to three months. They offer you orientation, Chinese etiquette and language lessons, fully inclusive accommodation, paid travel cards, paid sim cards and, of course, the Holy Grail – the internship. For the graduates that can afford a month or two abroad, this programme has everything. It should not come as a surprise that CRCC Asia saw a fivefold increase in the number of placements it offered over the last few years.  It is also reported that a percentage of these brave interns have even found full-time work in Beijing.

In collaboration with Milkround, Richmond University, and other UK-based institutions, CRCC Asia appears to be a breath of fresh air in the sea of never-ending job searching.  The programme doesn’t just give you a chance in Beijing or Shanghai though, it also enhances your employability for when, or if, you decide to return. Taking the step to get to China shows employers that you are not afraid to take on new challenges.

Employers are not looking for a list of skills and abilities anymore but for life experiences that demonstrate your list of skills. It is not enough to write that you are adaptable, have initiative, work well with others or possess excellent communication skills, the employer will interpret this and read between the lines of you adding a 3-month internship in Beijing and a description of the role you undertook.

At this particular point in time, more is expected of graduates than ever before. This is the reason why we need to flee from our comfort zones; because, yes China may seem like a bold move to some but the benefits you gain from the experience outweigh the hassle and intimidation of moving half way across the planet.

Not everyone can afford to include Beijing or Shanghai on their CV, but the graduates that dash off to the Far East are a confounding illustration of how much is expected of us and how far we are willing to go for the opportunity to get employment. At the moment, China stands at the end of our yellow-brick road, shining bright like Emerald City with all the wonders of a distant land, and all we have to do is take that first step and want what it has to offer bad enough.

Employability skills are the cornerstone of building a career.

Being able to demonstrate independent thinking, resourcefulness, flexibility and motivation are ‘soft skills’ that employers are searching for. The internship programme at CRCC Asia gives graduates the edge, and their best chance, to survive in this economy.

CRCC Asia gave us hope, a tiny glimpse of a future in the midst of rejection letters. So, instead of digging your career grave, why not dig that hole all the way to China?

– Theodora Perera, Employability Points @ Kent