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Choosing a Job: Chinese and American Considerations

Hao Han

Do you remember the reason why you chose your job?

Recently, I have thought about this question a lot because I always hear people complaining about their jobs. If people don't like their jobs, why did they choose these jobs first? Choosing a "wrong" job will waste a person's time and life. As a col­lege student, especially as a fresh­man, it becomes important to know which kinds of jobs will be useful in the future and to prepare for that during the years of college. After I came to Concordia and talked with some of my American friends, in­terestingly I found that there are some differences between Chinese and Americans when they look for jobs. So, finding out why American and Chinese students consider dif­ferent things when they search for jobs could be very helpful for them to know themselves better. To solve these questions, it is necessary to understand the differences in edu­cation, cultural mindset, and popu­lation between China and America.


First, when choosing a job, Chi­nese students wiJl consider salary, location, and opportunities.

I grad­uated from Changchun University of Science and Technology in 2012, so I know about how Chinese col­lege students find jobs, and I know very well what they think when they choose jobs. I still remember when my classmates chose jobs; salary was the most important factor for the decision. They compared jobs to find which ones could pay better. Then, they considered the location of the job. Many students prefer to work in big cities because there are more opportunities for them to find a better job. Thirdly, they think about whether they can learn some­thing or whether they can get more experience from the work. Only a few people keep the same job for their whole lives. The rest of us will always try to find a better job. So whether you can learn something from the job you are taking as well as get ready for applying for the next job is also important for Chi­nese students. If a job can satisfy all those factors, it can be a "good" job for Chinese students. Perhaps, if they have time, they will think about whether the job satisfies their interests. However, they will not change their minds to find a new job even though they do not like the job. For example, my roommate at my Chinese university found a job at Samsung in Beijing, which is really good. It's a famous company, has a promising future, and has well-paid and stable careers. There were no reason for him to drop it. Comparing with interests, though, he preferred to take the opportunity to work at Samsung because he was not sure that he would find another job as good as that one.


Comparing with the Chinese, although Americans also consid­er salary, interests, location, and time, there are still differences be­tween them. I talked with some of my American friends; perhaps they cannot represent all the American students, but I still can see some differences from them. One of my American friends, a guy from the Concordia basketball team, told me that for him, salary and interests were the first two things he would consider. Of course he wanted to have a good life, but he must also think about whether or not he would like the job. If he did not like it, he would choose another one which perhaps paid less but was more likeable. Then he would think about how far it was from his home to the workplace. He wanted to stay near his family. Also, he would think about work time. He hoped he had time to stay with family members.


And another friend, a girl on the swim team, also gave me the same answer. It seems like both Chinese and American students consider salary, interest, working place, and working time when they choose jobs. However, Chinese students care more about the salary while American students care more about their interests. 

Lots of reasons can explain the differences between Chinese and American students, but the main reasons are the contrasting cultures and education systems. The first rea­son why these exist is differences in education. After I came to Concor­dia, I discovered that college life here is very different from Chinese colleges. The first difference is students every day, otherwise they will fall behind and cannot get a good score in the end. In China, students only need to get ready for the final examination, and the final score only depends on how well students do on the test. I found, at Concordia, students can choose classes by their interests until they decide their majors, which is im­possible in China. In China students need to choose a major before they go to college, and once students get in a college their classes are chosen by the school.Also, Concordia tries to help its students find part-time jobs. Some of them work on campus while others work off campus. I think it is very interest­ing because in Chi­na colleges have never done this for students. Students need to find jobs by themselves. Only a few Chinese students want to find part-time jobs when they are in college. It is a good way for stu­dents to be more familiar with so­ciety, and the part-time job experi­ence will be helpful when they find jobs in the future.


Moreover, in China, students do not have to study very hard in col­lege compared to high school. High school is the hardest time for Chi­nese students. We have to arrive at school before 7:00 AM or earlier and leave school after 10:00 PM, and when we go back home, we still need to study until 12:00 AM or1 later. Because the teachers are not so strict in college, some students do not study anymore. They don't go to class. Instead, they will hang out with friends or play computer games in their dorm. They don't have any plan for their future lives. When they graduate, they do not even know what their interests are or what kind of jobs they want. They just choose the job with the best pay. Then they will start to learn the working skills from the beginning with the help of workmates. However, in America, college is the hardest time for students. Once they get into the college, they need to study very hard just like we do in high school. At the same time, the school will help them find out their hobbies and bring them opportunities to have part-time jobs to make them familiar with society. Some students will have their own plans for their future will get help from school. Their academic advisor, school working center, and many other students' clubs will help students figure out their hobbies and set foals for their lives. 

Another reason is that there are cultural differences between Chinese and Americans when consid­ering jobs. Chinese always care about their reputation. We always like to compare with others and to prove that we are better than others. For the workers, the best thing to compare is the salary. They do not care whether the other person likes their job or not. They only care how much the other person earns, where they work, and what they do. For Americans, I think they care more about themselves. It means they do not care so much about how others look at them. They just care about how to live better.


Finally, the large population of China causes problems for students when they are looking for jobs after graduating. This year, I just grad­uated from Chinese college. Even though at that time I was busy pre­paring for the TOEFL test in order to go abroad, I still remember how hard it was for my classmates to find a job, even harder to find a good job. China has the biggest population in the world. Sometimes people say it is awesome to have the biggest market in the world or it is great to see people everywhere when com­pared with US because it is a little bit scary when you can't see any people on the street. However, hav­ing the biggest population causes lots of problems. For students, hav­ing the biggest population makes it very difficult to find a good job be­cause they have to compete with so many people. Of course, in China we also have many job opportuni­ties, but it doesn't mean all of the jobs are suitable for everyone, and people can't spend time to apply for all of the jobs. It is hard to imag­ine that during my last year in col­lege, almost every day, hundreds of companies came to bring some job opportunities. Because of so many students and because of so many companies, it is impossible for one to apply for all the jobs. So it be­comes very important for one to think clearly about what kind of job he or she wants and why he or she wants it.


Different education systems, cul­tures, and population lead to the dif­ferent thinking when Chinese and Americans are finding jobs. Companies with the U.S. education sys­tem, the Chinese education system makes Chinese students care more about their future by themselves. They can't wait for someone else's help. Also, because of the culture, when Chinese people find jobs, they will care more about how people will look at them instead of caring about their real feelings. Finally, the large amount of population makes find­ing good jobs even harder in China than in the U.S. However, there are no standard factors to think about when choosing a job. It all depends on your purpose. If people want to find a good job and live better lives, the most important thin is that they have a plan for life, a d that they know how to achieve it.

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