Career Development: Stephanie

Seeking to Put God First

A bright young woman, Stephanie is seeking God’s will for her career and future. She started exploring her calling to China when she joined our summer study abroad program as a junior in college. Now that she is graduating, she has to decide how to seek first the kingdom of God.

Facing a Tough Job Market

With determination and hard work, Stephanie has put together a competitive resume for her job search. In today’s economy, she faces a tough job market worldwide. In China, many local grads from Chinese universities, who speak fairly fluent English, are now vying for the same jobs as grads from North America.

Even seasoned professionals with marketable skills and experience must prepare for “local plus” salaries. (Local grads from good schools get RMB3-4,000; “local plus” for entry level is RMB5-7,000). The Chinese job market is attracting many returnees – those educated at top Chinese universities and graduate schools in the west. With good command of the local language and familiarity with the culture, they are often the most sought after talents by national and multinational companies alike. Thus, there is more equality in the job market as the gap between locals and expats lessens.

Thanks to her family background, Stephanie does speak fluent Mandarin. To pursue a career in China, she is committed to studying the language more and understanding the culture better. But is she willing to spend the next two years working for a “local plus” salary? She may have just enough income to get by. She will gain international work experience. It will be like an extended internship to prepare for business school or her future career. But she may have to defer school loan payments for a couple of years. Even if she’s willing, what do her parents think?

Meeting Parental Expectations

Although Stephanie’s parents are okay with her getting a “local plus” salary in China, they want Stephanie to try to find a job in the U.S. first. They want to see her in a job with career development opportunities. Her dad is also concerned about her medical insurance coverage after college.

We encourage Stephanie to listen to her parents’ concerns and honor their advice. We also encourage her to put her thoughts in writing. She could write them a letter so they would have time to digest and discuss the situation further. Stephanie’s parents are Christians so she could ask them to pray for her as she seeks God’s best for her future.

Calling to China

Stephanie’s career goal is to be a Chief Marketing Officer. Although she is not sure about the type of company that she would like to be a part of, she is open to God’s leading. In trying to sort out her calling, she wants to hold her goals and preferences lightly and remain open to different options.

Since Stephanie is serious about seeking God’s will about a career and calling that would bridge the U.S. and China for the sake of the Kingdom, she wants to pursue it until she is convinced that He has a different plan for her.

We agree that if she is seeking to make her life count for God, then He would honor her desire, guide her steps and open doors in His time. Moreover, as a young grad, Stephanie would do well to gain work experience in her home culture. She would also benefit from taking the time to mature in her walk with God, in the knowledge of His Word and in her ministry skills before heading overseas. Being better equipped professionally and spiritually means she will have more to offer when the door to China opens for her.

Taking Steps with a Purpose

To honor her parents in her exploration, Stephanie agrees to:

  1. Look for a position with a U.S. company, preferably one that has potential of sending her to work in China.
  2. Be open to any company that offers her opportunities for professional development. After she gains some work experience, then she can explore China again before or after business school.
  3. If Steps 1 or 2 works out, then we can coach her in the next 2-5 years on how to continue growing her vision for China. We have journeyed with some of our alumni for 10+ years before they got to China!
  4. If Steps 1 or 2 does not work out by a certain timeline (i.e. no jobs by the end of the summer after graduation), then she will check back with her parents about the following options:
  • Work for a “local plus” salary in China. We can try to approach our friends in a few companies on her behalf.
  • Do a non-paid internship for 3-6 months. We have access to such opportunities.
  • Continue her job search during the internship.
  • Consider studying Chinese for up to a year if she cannot find a job right away.
  • Continue her job search while studying Chinese.

Getting More Info

Stephanie can help her parents to see that the non-paid internship and language study both have great intrinsic values. They will also enhance her resume for finding better jobs in the future. There is a growing trend that universities, such as MIT, are encouraging their students and graduates to gain international experience to stay competitive in the 21st century. Read MIT’s Summary of the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons.

Stephanie is a marathon runner. She is well aware of the need for training and perseverance in running a race. Developing a career and living a life that puts God first are not that different. Every race is an accumulation of the steps taken, from the first to the last. She must remain focused on her purpose and keep working at it. The process will transform her into the person that He has intended for her to be from the start.

Reflection

  • What are your marketable skills?
  • What obstacles are you facing in your career?
  • What is your career plan for the next five years, and long term?