Monday, January 11, 2010

The Rat Race

So now that actually receiving my diploma is just about the only thing I have left on the road to officially finishing my Master's, I have begun to look for work.

I think this is the first time I've had to take a job search like this so seriously, and let me tell you, it is extremely weird that I'm doing it in China. Expats toil in a very specialized economy here, with lopsided demand in certain fields (like English teaching), while otherwise competing with either cream-of-the-crop Chinese graduates who usually accept more humble salaries than their foreign counterparts, or execs with 10+ years of experience who are worth the big bucks, not to mention the generous expense accounts. So, I have had to be very creative about where I look. Multinational companies in need of someone with near-native bilingual skills? An "expert" in Chinese contemporary culture (not even)? A decent translator? Anyone entry-level?

Meanwhile, I have to make a lot of personal decisions. How much do I sell out to "the man"? Am I willing to sacrifice a lot of my time and emotional/social energy to pay my dues in corporate un-America so I can climb the ladder to a stronger resume and (hopefully) higher salary? Or do I protect the space in my life that currently goes to a lot of volunteer work and relationships, knowing that I may once again make choices that render a "career" in the conventional sense just always a little out of my grasp?

In high school, my friend Pradeep and I were voted Most Likely to Succeed (he's now finishing up residency at Brigham & Woman's Hospital in Boston with his lovely wife Puja, after med school at UCSF...make me look bad much, Pradeep? :P). We were asked to come to school dressed in business attire, and photographed behind our principal's desk with wads of cash (dollar bills, most likely) fanned out in our grubby little hands. Now that I think about it, I resent that.

I'm afraid whatever "success" I'm most likely to achieve will not look like Ralph Lauren ready-to-wear, mahogany desks, corner office with a view, hmmhow'smyROTH-IRAlooking? Honestly, I'm still trying to understand what success even means to me. Yes, I know I'm smart and capable, albeit woefully inexperienced. And I know there are too many things I'd love to do in this world. So right now I face the challenging task of choosing. And hoping the right people are willing to take a chance on someone who's maybe not so strong on paper just yet, but just needs a chance to prove herself?

Wish me luck, and if any of you have friends who work in China, let me know. 'Cause you know especially here, it's all about the referral. ;)


Anonymous said...

this entry totally reminded me of when you had your green blog. and i love it. and i love you. you are so wise and thoughtful. -yl

Florence said...

you'll succeed in whatever you do.. not by the world's standards.. but by your own. Haha.. i had a chuckle thinking about that yearbook pic. I miss you!`

Tawny said...

you are already a huge success to me, m-bear. i admire you so much even now. if you succeeded even more, i might just blow up. but here's a prayer coming for you anyway...BAM! done.

BT said...

send me your resume.