“How did you spend your summer holiday?” During back-to-school time, this is a common question students hear.
Most students enrolled at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University Entrepreneur College (Taicang), have a ready answer: preparing for future careers.
Each summer, the College holds a five-week Professional Development Programme for its Years One, Two and Three students. This year, nearly 700 students participated in the 200-hour industry training XJTLU developed with industry partners, which includes cutting-edge technology lectures, technical training, workshops, corporate visits, team projects and demonstrations.
Students who participated in this summer’s programme tell us their top takeaways:
DEEPER CAREER UNDERSTANDING
Yu Zhuang, a Year One student in BA Arts, Technology and Entertainment, began her university study with a clear career path in mind: exhibition management. At the time, she envisioned the key requirements for that career to be a keen interest in art and design or a background in art-related project management.
(Yu Zhuang, Year One student)
But participation in the PDP deepened her understanding of the profession, Zhuang says, and now she knows more is required:
“You also need great organisational skills and technology skills. An exhibition manager needs to be able to use interactive multimedia to inspire awe when the audience walks through the exhibition.”
As the result of her PDP experience, Zhuang says she will be able to get more out of her Introduction to Event Management module in Year Two. “I now know where my knowledge gaps lie and how what I learn in the module will be applied in the real world.”
Students say that while coursework provides theoretical knowledge, the PDP gives them a chance to hear about industry professionals’ actual experiences.
“During PDP field visits, we not only see the company’s operating model and supply chain management, but we also interact directly with company executives and industry experts,” says Zihua Wang, a Year One student in the BSc Intelligent Supply Chain programme.
"Executives shared what it is like to run companies, including how they faced challenges to the supply chain brought about by the pandemic. These real-world issues gave us a deeper understanding of the industry."
(Zihua Wang, Year One student)
Guojun Han, also studying the BSc Intelligent Supply Chain programme, says after participating in the PDP, he now has a different perspective on how supply chain management works.
“In today’s world, supply chain management is not just simply the process of warehousing and distributing supplies,” he says.
“It’s about coordination, reducing costs and maximising economic benefits. I’ve seen how big data and artificial intelligence can be used to intelligently manage the supply chain.”
(Guojun Han, second from the left, is asking Dr Jiyao Xun about supply chain case studies)
FIRST-HAND WORK EXPERIENCE
This summer, Shengzhi Tian, a Year Two student in the BEng Data Science and Big Data Technology, secured a place at iFLYTEK, a leading artificial intelligence company in the Asia-Pacific Region.
“Compared with the Year One PDP, Year Two is more about learning-by-doing. I feel like I’m making progress every day,” he says. “I’ve gained a valuable skill set, and it’s not theoretical knowledge but practical application.”
(Shengzhi Tian, Year Two student)
Tian and his team participated in the iFLYTEK Intelligent Vehicle Competition for college students. Their task was to make an indoor intelligent vehicle that can be used in restaurant services.
Throughout the competition, PDP tutors trained them on the Linux system and Robot Operating System and provided them with adequate opportunities to learn.
“We started from zero, but with their guidance, we completed our project step by step,” Tian says. “It’s first-hand work experience. We’ve learned the ins and outs of intelligent vehicles.”
Yantong Dong, a Year Two student in BEng Internet of Things Engineering, spent her summer at Éolane (China), a local subsidiary of the French company, which specialises in electronic manufacturing.
(Year Two PDP students)
“This experience has given my resume a boost,” she says. “The professionals at Éolane gave me valuable career advice and also a broader picture of working in the industry.”
The internship also allowed her to apply what she learned in class while pushing her to expand her soft skills, like knowledge of employee relations and company structure, she says.
(Zhen Wang of Éolane China)
Zhen Wang, the Director of Research and Development at Éolane (China), says the tutors and professionals are more than glad to provide individualised feedback to all students.
“Éolane has gained great value in partnering with PDP students,” Wang says. “We are proud of what they have accomplished this summer. And we hope this programme has broadened their knowledge and helped them plan their career paths.”
By Luyun Shi and Qiuchen Hu
Photo by Bingxi Xue and Yao Chu
Video by Bingxi Xue
Translated by Xinmin Han
Edited by Patricia Pieterse and Tamara Kaup