What happened when SHUCareers went to China…

Our Employment Adviser Laura Kerley visited China last summer…

On 11th June 2015, the faculty of Development & Society piloted a new and innovative event in Beijing. This was no typical marketing event; its aim was two-fold. Not only did it aim to raise awareness of D&S courses, employability and associated careers; it also included an interactive training session about supporting students with career planning. China’s rapid development has led to a significant increase in the need for career guidance, a premise confirmed by university contacts in Beijing and the audience on the day. The main audience was education professionals and agents, who support both high school and university students when making choices about their future, particularly about study abroad.

I was responsible for the development and delivery of the training session, so armed with this intriguing brief, I set about doing a little research. I spoke to some Chinese students at Hallam to glean a better understanding of their experiences of careers advice and guidance before they came to the UK. A research article about career guidance for university students in China confirmed that although career guidance is becoming more prominent and professionally delivered in some educational institutions, overall it is still at a fairly elementary stage. Although the research emphasises the importance of evolving career guidance practices being tailored to specific Chinese contexts, it also acknowledges that some general principles hold true in both UK and Chinese cultures.

Vitally, the event struck a good balance between the international and Chinese context overall.

Although my UK experience underpinned the training session, it was also informed by my experience with international students. Common ground was certainly found between myself and delegates (and with the help of some brilliant interpreters!) For example, when discussing typical questions asked by students (best epitomised by the question “what should I study to help me get a good job?”), there was mutual recognition of the importance of supporting students to develop self-awareness alongside opportunity awareness. After presenting ways that this is done in the UK, some good discussions were had around relevant case studies and how these ideas could be used and adapted to the context of delegates’ working lives. Resources and websites I wanted to share were tested in advance by the trusty SHU Beijing team and worked on the day (phew!) The response to these was positive, and delegates reported that comparable national resources limited, and were keen for some to be developed. At the end of the session, I was surprised that every delegate wanted their photo taken with me. Although I like to think of this as an immediate form of feedback, I think was largely due to the fact that at 5ft 10, I was seen as unusually tall!

The national and local context was provided by a range of engaging speakers directly related to many D&S subject areas, including:

  • The role of RICS China (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and future of Built Environment in China
  • Key attributes to be successful in the property industry (General Manager, U-Town Mall, Beijing)
  • My career development after SHU (TESOL alumni)
  • Psychology in China (Professor from the Institute of Psychlogy, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

All in all, a successful event and one I very much hope the university can build upon.

Laura Kerley

Employment Adviser, Careers and Employment