This Tuesday, August 1st, Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA) hosted a panel discussion themed “Emerging US-China opportunities for aspiring young professionals”. Project Pengyou Interns were invited to attend the event, contribute to the conversation, and share the takeaways.
At the Beijing American Center (BAC) in the U.S. Embassy, four professionals currently working in China share d their insights with global-minded youth who were in China for APSA’s China Scholars Program – Richard Coward, CEO of China Admissions, Aaron Berkovich, Founder of Peking Productions, Samantha Kwok, Founder of JingJobs, and Alexandra Pomeroy, Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing
CEO of China Admissions
Richard Coward set up his first internet business at 15, selling ebooks online. He is a graduate from University of Exeter in Politics Philosophy and Economics and Chinese, and studied Chinese at Peking University and learned Chinese selling tea in the largest tea market in China. Whilst in China in 2008, he gave a speech in Chinese to 8000 Chinese students.
After inspiring a number of his friends to study in China, in 2010, Richard signed the first contract with China University of Political Science and Law and set up China Admissions (formerly CGES).
China Admissions is the leading online platform for international students to study at top Chinese Universities and is funded by over 70 top Chinese Universities to attract more international students and develop their international programs. The platform is free for international students to apply.
Founder of Peking Productions
Since arriving in China nearly five years ago, Aaron has been immersed in the ever evolving world of creative production and consulting. Using skills honed as a photojournalist and producer in Washington DC, and with myriad clients and projects in China under his belt, Aaron continues to strive to use visual media to bridge language and culture gaps across global boundaries. Through media and creativity, Aaron will continue to build and connect communities in Beijing, greater China, and beyond, and build upon a strong reputation of telling stories, capturing meaningful moments, and inspiring new experiences.
Founder of Jingjobs, Gucycle Instructor, Leadership Council Beijing Women’s Network
Sam’s passion is to help young graduates and professionals make genuine connections with potential employers, and empower the, to take control of their own career development. She created Jingjobs at the age of 22, an online and offline platform dedicated to bringing together China focused start ups and fresh bilingual talent with a strong focus on Beijing and Shanghai. As the Co-chair of the BWN Professional Development Series, she facilitates events and workshops that provide training in workplace skills relevant across various industries. Sam moved to Beijing 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia.
Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing
Alexandra Pomeroy has a Bachelor of Arts in international relations from William and Mary and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University. Alexandra previously worked as a youth youth employment counselor for the city of Alexandria and a program officer for the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, which included work in East Africa, the Balkans, and Central Asia. More recently, Alexandra worked for a research department in the World Bank Group.
After brief introductions of the panelists and their specific fields of expertise, the interactive discussion took off with questions from the floor. Summarized below are advice from the panelists to the enthusiastic leaders of the future.
Network, network, network.
All panelists agree that networking is the key to career advancement. According to Alexandra, it takes time to build relationships, but it is very important. Richard reminded the audience to make sure to access all the resources available and find opportunities through their connections. Samantha echoes the thought, adding that it’s all about meeting the right people at the right time, and keeping relationships authentic. Aaron, who once had a very meaningful conversation with the person sitting next to him on a plane (and happened to be the person he had cited multiple times in his research – The conversation led to Aaron, as a journalist, helping her with her presentation), emphasized the importance of talking to more people, building your reputation, and staying open to respond to the best opportunities.
Find out your interests.
Discovering what one likes the most was another theme that all panelists geared their attention towards. Both Alexandra and Aaron stressed the importance of figuring out one’s comparative and competitive advantage. Alexandra also advised the youth to be ever curious, and keep asking questions – that’s how one will see where their interests lie. Aaron, on the other hand, was concerned with learning one’s limits. In his opinion, one should take calculated risks, because that is how one can push past boundaries and pinpoint their strong points. Additionally, Richard and Samantha encouraged diversity – in particular, Richard advised focusing on and listening to oneself whilst trying different things; Samantha suggested trying out different internships to find out what was meaningful and held the most value to oneself.
Before ending the session, the panelists generally imparted some life advice. Alexandra reminded the audience, as international scholars in China, to resist the temptation to make big generalizations or judgments [about China]. Richard encouraged them to take action, and not worry about making mistakes. Aaron once again expressed that staying focused was crucial, and advised them to learn to say no to distractions. In closing, Samantha recommended that whenever they ask for help, give something in return.
After the panel discussion, Alexandra Pomeroy, Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State, spoke about work in the foreign service. The session was friendly and casual; it was a productive two-way conversation with the audience. APSA students were able to share their experience in Beijing, and talk about their goals for the future. Ms. Pomeroy also offered advice and resources to look into for those interested in her line of work.
Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that designs tailored global education programs for underserved youth and provides scholarships to increase the overall diversity and number of
American youth who are studying abroad and actively developing foreign language fluency, cross-cultural awareness and 21st-century skills.