'Do Not Be Afraid to Be Active and Ambitious!'
Arina Chebotareva is a 2022 graduate of the Master's programme 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia'. She successfully found employment in the partner company of the programme right after the internship. We asked Arina to tell us about her experience.
— Why did you decide to take an internship at the China Professionals recruiting agency for sinologists?
— I originally wanted to intern in the South Korean Embassy. But I had been following China Professionals for a long time, and as a result, I took an interest in this company's activities. But I did not get there right away—first, I had to pass an interview and do a test task. During the interview, I simply told them about my experience and skills. The test task was to analyse social networks. By the way, don't worry if your thesis is not connected to the internship activities. My thesis, for example, was devoted to the labour market in South Korea, but that did not stop me from joining the recruitment agency.
— What were your duties?
— They hired me as an SMM manager. My major tasks were creating content for China Professionals' social networks: writing posts, recording stories and interacting with the audience. I even managed to participate in 'Career Sprint', our seasonal event, where I answered people's comments and consulted them in private messages. At the beginning, they told me to choose a section which I would be interested in working on, and I chose 'Chinese for Business' and 'Quiz'. My colleagues and I drafted a content plan and sent our ideas to the company's PR manager. There were also special metrics which our posts had to reach (views, likes and comments). To be honest, when I was planning to join the company, I had 'imposter syndrome', but as a result, I received a job offer.
— How did you manage to combine your work and studies? What is your job now? What is your plan for further development?
— On the Master's programme, we had only two to three double classes a day in the afternoon (starting from 2:40 pm), so it was convenient for me to distribute working hours. Thanks to the online format, which remained throughout the pandemic, I managed to attend all the meetings and conferences. Moreover, I always understood my responsibility; that is why I did all the tasks and complied with the deadlines even if I had to work at the weekend or at night.
When they offered me the job, I was extremely happy—I had been worrying because of constant questions from my acquaintances: 'Who needs experts in Asian and African Studies?', 'Where will you go?'. Besides, they immediately hired me for an administrative position—Project Manager. At the moment, I am supervising two projects—'TAO of an exporter' and 'TAO of an importer'. I create content, edit podcasts and prepare the analytical digest for the China Professionals' main channel.
— What would you recommend to students who are going to take an internship? How can an expert in the Asian and African studies find a job?
— To my mind, the most important thing is to be active and uphold the principle that there is nothing that won't come in handy. For example, in the third year of my Bachelor's degree, we had a course on the politics of Asia with Elena Soboleva and Svetlana Krivokhizh. During the course, we had to run a news channel on Telegram. I took the initiative and offered to be an editor of the channel. This played a key role during the interview with China Professionals because for Alya Arsaeva, the company's head, the relevant skills are very important while selecting employees. So don't be afraid to be active and ambitious!
I would recommend that those who want to get a job offer after the internship always stick to the motto: 'There is no way I will fail to do it'. But it is vital for you to be passionate about what you do.
Nowadays, sinologists have a significant number of opportunities and prospects. In addition to China and the Chinese language, I myself have studied Vietnam and Korea, so I understand that it can be hard for experts who specialise in other Asian countries to find a job. In this case, I would recommend following groups of translators, lecturers and embassies on various social networks. For instance, the South Korea Embassy in St Petersburg regularly posts interesting vacancies and internships. In addition, you can follow bloggers who also post vacancies or talk about their acquaintances who are looking for specialists.
We should remember that simply knowing a foreign language is not a surprise to anyone. That is why you should read and watch a lot, for example, courses on SMM, external economic activity and so on.
We are conducting analytics; I am analysing vacancies with the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean languages. So I can say with confidence that knowledge of a foreign language adds 30% to the salary for any position. Use a foreign language as a secondary, but not primary tool, as another advantage.
We invite major speakers to Career Sprint. For example, Temur Umarov, Polina Rysakova, Raisa Epikhina and many others—all the experts highlight the necessity to develop analytical and soft skills in general. I also want to add that today, it is vital to be able to search for information and present it to the audience in a concise and accessible way.