Although I’m already set for the summer, this morning I went to a Chinese job fair here in Hangzhou. Actually, the formal title of the event was: The 2nd Yangtze Delta Job Fair for Foreign Culture & Education Experts and Foreign Teachers. The last part is critical because that is really what it’s about: teaching English as a foreign language here in China. Native English speakers and teachers are in high demand as kindergartens and colleges alike recruit to have foreign faculty. It’s a big business, and I should know after spending a semester down at Shantou University teaching English and music.
I accompanied friends that spread out trying to find summer employment. Opportunities were few for undergrads looking for wokr in the summer, but the experience came in speaking with Chinese employers in a job-context. I’d sit down at a booth and start speaking in Chinese. Big mistake. If you don’t look blond and blue eyed, they want to hear you speak English not Chinese. And that was tough for the the non-Chiense national Asians in our group who had to fight to be considered as foreigners. A Japanese friend who grew up in the U.S. and speaks fluent unaccented English was flat out told that few, if any, were hiring non-Americans for teaching positions. But employers were hungry as they scoped out anyone remotely foreign looking to force handouts and brochures in their hands. A good group of Malaysians, Mexicans, and others were there looking for teaching jobs. A free lunch gave us six students a chance to debrief on our job-hunting experiences. We vented about finding nothing concrete but still worth it culturally to see how recruiters work in China. Bring your business cards!