Asian Studies & International Relations
How did you get your first job after graduating?
My first job after graduation was for a professor, so I didn’t get that far away from campus. I applied for a research grant from the Faculty of Arts and asked, if she would be willing to work with me. One important thing is to go out and ask people. I was nervous about doing that in the beginning, but the worst thing that can happen is they say no and even that isn’t too bad. At least you tried.
I got my first “adult” job through networking and, again, asking if there were opportunities available. I connected with the then Sauder Career Advisor, whom I met through a website called 10.000 Coffees. The website aims to connect students or recent graduates with professionals, who are willing to give career advice. She suggested I contact one of her old colleagues, who then referred me to his former boss. So, I got my first job via networking with three different people. 10.000 Coffees is a great resource for anyone looking to get into networking or talking to professionals in an industry you’re interested in. I did informational interviews with professionals I met there and many are willing to take 30 minutes out of their day to Skype with you or meet you for a coffee in real life.
What kind of work do you do at Dezan Shira & Associates?
Dezan Shira & Associates themselves focus on business consulting in emerging markets. I work for their subsidiary Asia Briefing, which covers trade news in those markets, publishes weekly articles and quarterly magazines. I am able to contribute through writing articles, translations and I do general social media management and editorial tasks. I don’t really do the same work every day, which is interesting.
What has been your favourite experience in Vietnam so far?
I think simply being here is my favorite experience. It’s hard to pin down just one moment. Ho Chi Minh City can be absolutely overwhelming and the traffic is crazy, but once it all dies down there is so much beauty to see. I love the old colonial architecture and the food is amazing. I haven’t had a single mediocre dish so far.
How has an Asian Studies degree helped you in your endeavors?
It gave me great writing and research skills, which I am applying at my current job. I think it also gives students a great foundation upon which they can build during a job. I believe in order to work in a foreign country (which many of our graduates do) it is important to know more about the cultural differences and history. It’s tough to function when you have no idea why some things are the way they are, but if you can connect it to a country’s history or religion, it makes more sense and you’re able to respond to it better.
What advice would you give to students hoping to enhance their university experience? Were there any things that you did that you thought put you ahead?
This is a tough one, because everyone is so different. Personally, I am very glad I decided to work during university and I think it put me ahead. Work experience distinguishes you and enables you to build impressive skills which you can refer to during a job interview. On a lighter note, keeping a healthy work-life-school balance is just as important and though I’m not sure what it entails for you, I think it’s safe to say you will enjoy your university experience more if you can focus on things other than school sometimes.
Although I didn’t personally go on an exchange, I did a year of university in China, before I started at UBC. I think it’s important to get to know the culture, language and country you’re studying on a deeper level. Many of my friends went on an exchange and I’d say if you do have the chance, it’s very worthwhile.
What advice would you give to senior students looking for a job?
Network and then network some more. I cannot stress how valuable it is to have connections. UBC Asian Studies offers networking opportunities during their Career Nights, which is a great resource for students unsure what to really do with their degree. Informational Interviews are a great way of getting to know about an industry you think you’re interested in, without committing to anything.
- Write a really good resume (one page, well organized, with good action verbs showcasing what you achieved in previous jobs. Even if you don’t have a lot of job experience, you can make whatever you have stand out by creating impressive bullet points).
- Update your LinkedIn and make it look more professional. You can copy paste what you have on your resume and even add a cover photo. If it makes you stand out (and still looks professional) its good!
- If you meet someone for an informational interview, do your research, have a plan and a set of questions. Keep it brief and be thankful for their time.