BA’95 (Asian Area Studies)
I am currently living in Hong Kong working as a senior writer on the Culture desk (features) for the South China Morning Post. I pitch story ideas to my editor and she also assigns me stories and publish a front-page feature story on average once a week. I also contribute to other sections in the Culture desk, such as food and film, as well as our weekly entertainment magazine called 48 Hours. I previously worked in the Specialist Publications department that focuses on custom publishing for clients. I have been at the paper for over three years. This is actually my second time living here.
When I was at UBC, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated. At the time I read stories in the newspaper about young people going to Hong Kong and finding jobs there and I thought I’d give it a shot. So after I graduated in Asian Studies and English Literature in 1995 I practically took the next plane out to Hong Kong.
My Asian Studies degree has helped me have a greater understanding and appreciation of my own culture. As I work in Hong Kong and cover social and cultural issues, my degree has helped put things into context.
The journalism field in Hong Kong is still doing well, particularly print which is dwindling in most places. However the requirements of getting into the field are getting stiffer for Hong Kong, with a greater preference for those who can read Chinese and speak Cantonese and Mandarin.
Students and recent graduates can do internships with publications here to get a taste of what it’s like to work in the industry, but many are not well paid — this goes for entry-level jobs as well. However if you work hard and prove yourself as well as network, there are opportunities to move up.
If you have a chance, go work in China for a year (or two). It is the fastest-growing country in the world with a population of 1.3 billion and yet most of us hardly have much of an understanding of the place and its people. Visiting China is one thing, but living there gives you an opportunity to learn how the people think and why they do the things they do. That kind of knowledge can help you have a greater understanding of how they tick and how that affects the rest of us.