Learning Chinese: Increased Prospects for a Future Career

Peking University, regarded as an important strategic partner by University College London, recently set up the Peking University Oxford Campus in Boar’s Hill, Oxfordshire. IOE CI Director, Katharine Carruthers was invited to speak at their Chinese New Year Open Day event on Saturday 23rd February. Inspired by emerging challenges, the Open Day put the spotlight on new opportunities for China studies and business connectivity in China. Katharine spoke on the subject of Learning Chinese at School and University: Increased Prospects for a Future Career. As part of Katharine’s research for of the talk, she spoke with with Mary Oboh, formerly of Dartford Grammar School, who is currently in her second year of studying Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford. Mary very kindly wrote the following words about her experiences of learning Chinese at university and the opportunities this will open up for her…

Mary Oboh

Choosing to study Mandarin to degree level will open up a world of possible career paths. With China rapidly growing to be a major player in world politics and economics, in-depth understanding of the culture and language are highly coveted. As China and the UK’s economies become increasingly intertwined, investment banking firms such as ThinkingLinking are looking for Mandarin speakers to support mergers and acquisitions for Chinese investors in Europe and European investors in China, with a business or law degree only stated as a plus. On the political front, GCHQ annually reaches out to universities in search of Mandarin speakers to work within the UK intelligence industry. These are not isolated cases – proficiency in Mandarin is frequently specified as an asset or requirement for a plethora of other UK-based jobs. In its latest vacancy advertisements for consultants and managerial level staff, for example, healthcare technology company The Phoenix Programme is specifically seeking Mandarin speakers to work on their China business strategy. Within other financial services technology firms, such as New York-based Trade Informatics, professional fluency in Mandarin is listed as a substantial asset for applicants. And outside the healthcare and technology fields, the world of journalism is also following this trend. The London-based international affairs organisation, First Magazine, for example, also singles out Mandarin proficiency as an advantage for successful applications.

Within China, demand for Mandarin speaking foreigners is also rife, with opportunities to work both within and outside the stereotypical English teaching roles. One of the students on the Oxford Chinese Studies course, for example, recently bagged an internship with the renowned public relations and communications firm, Burston-Marsteller in Beijing, supporting their Corporate and Public Affairs team. Careers within education are also becoming more diverse; recently Beijing University of Chemical Technology advertised an internship within their International Exchanges and Cooperation Department where a successful applicant would be tasked with undertaking administrative cross-cultural work. Corporate Governance and Control is also a field in which Mandarin speakers are sought. In short, Mandarin and cultural knowledge empowers students with global perspectives that are strongly sought after within our increasingly globalising world. Therefore, a degree in Mandarin at university will prepare students for a speckled and incredibly diverse future career.