Since starting China’s first cause marketing consultancy, I’ve prioritized time each month to help savvy young Chinese people prepare for interviews with Western companies.  I don’t get paid for it, it’s just something that I do because I wish I had someone helping me navigate career building in China back in the early 90’s and, frankly, they need it.

I first started studying Mandarin at Phillips Exeter Academy and then visited China in 1984 with my family for the first time. When I arrived in China, I felt as if I had come home and knew then that I wanted to live here.  I had no clue what I wanted to do for a career, but knew I wanted it to be in China.  Since my father owns Brewitt Funeral Homes in New Hampshire, needless to say, when it came to finding jobs in large enterprises in China, I was pretty much on my own.

Back then, being in the country was a huge advantage but the only way to find good jobs was by joining The American Chamber of Commerce to network with other expats.   Now with everything being online, the need to write a great English profile and resume is critical because that’s how doors get opened now.

I also saw this phenomenon when working with the youth leadership organization One Young World on China recruitment. There is no shortage of worthy candidates here in China working in amazing social enterprises, non-profits or in other ways contributing back to their local communities.  But too many of those same students also had lackluster resumes and had no idea how to network with the greater PRC business community to find jobs, especially in large corporations.

Clearly this skillset is not being taught in Chinese schools, or in the home. Westerners, who have grown up with “networking” as a basic human function for the last 20+ years may find this strange, but for Chinese this kind of engagement is relatively new.

In my way of paying it forward, I am going to take on a select group of mentees over the course of the year and I’m going to chronicle our journey in regular blog updates. I hope that I can inspire more young American women to study Chinese and build careers in marketing/ public relations/ journalism/ publishing/ events in China.

First we have, Sara. She’s co-managing a small English-as-a-second-language school, but she dreams of being a film producer. And then there’s Marjorie who’s deeply committed to sustainability, and is looking for a new job in public policy/public relations.

I’m not sure yet on the schedule for blog updates but stay tuned.