Grad 2024: Catching the eye of a Chinese job recruiter

05 Jul 2024

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2023 Suzhou Dushu Lake Science and Education Innovation District Global Talent Job Fair,” the host declares. He stands at the front of the bustling room, speaking confidently and clearly. All eyes are on him, but he shows no sign of nervousness.

The host is Weng Lim (William) Tay, a Year Four student in the BA International Business with a Language programme at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU). Tay relishes being around so many people, making face-to-face connections in his final year at university. Two years before, he was stuck inside, interacting with classmates online and facing an uncertain future.

In 2021, Tay was still studying remotely in his home country, Malaysia. Little did he expect that two years later, he would host a job fair as a student ambassador of XJTLU. His confidence also caught the attention of one recruiter in particular – GCL, a Chinese new energy company, where he will be starting work after graduation.

Weng Lim (William) Tay at XJTLU

The unexpected twists

Tay’s university journey didn’t start smoothly. Originally, he applied to Monash University in Australia. However, due to the pandemic, he had to stay in Malaysia and finish the foundation year online.

Tay soon found that online courses weren’t what he had envisioned at all. “I was also concerned that I might be stuck in remote learning for the rest of my university years,” he says.

At that time, China had effectively contained the spread of Covid-19. “Many people speculated that China would be among the first to reopen its borders and resume in-person learning,” he says.

With this in mind, Tay started searching for universities in China offering English-taught courses, and XJTLU’s International Business School Suzhou (IBSS) stood out to him.

“I watched videos about XJTLU and was immediately struck by the design of the IBSS building. Its ‘Triple Crown’ accreditations also helped seal the deal,” he says.

“Triple Crown” refers to accreditations from three major organisations: AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUIS (EFMD Quality Improvement System), and AMBA & BGA (Association of MBAs and the Business Graduates Association). IBSS is one of just over 100 business schools worldwide to accumulate all three.

Tay wasted no time and applied to the BA International Business with a Language programme at IBSS.

However, just as he received the offer, the Covid situation in China took a turn for the worse. Tay had no choice but to continue his studies online for another year.

Resilience and adaptability

The pandemic disrupted Tay’s plans, but he approached challenges with an optimistic outlook.

“It was undoubtedly a major challenge and a frustration, not only for me but also for students around the world. It took away some of the most crucial years of our lives.

“That being said, I also believe the pandemic has shaped us in a unique way,” he says.

“Going through these experiences sets us apart from the other generations. We have gained invaluable lessons and perspectives that people younger or older than us may not fully understand. It was difficult, but I also consider it a necessary part of our journey,” he says.

This time, instead of changing the environment, Tay decided to change himself.

During the day, he dedicated himself to online studies. After classes, he worked as a part-time sales associate at his parents’ jewellery store. This work experience not only taught him time management but also more about cultural adaptiveness.

“In Malaysia, we grow up in an environment where three races – Chinese, Malay, and Indian – coexist harmoniously, each with their own languages, preferences, and spending habits. As a sales associate, I needed to understand the cultural nuances and constantly switch between the three channels,” he says.

In addition, Tay also worked as a part-time high school tutor, helping students prepare for IGCSE exams.

Time flew by as he juggled these roles.

One day after work, Tay received a notification from the Embassy of China – the borders had opened for international students, and he could go to China in two weeks.

Back to campus

When Tay finally arrived at XJTLU in November 2022, he said the campus exceeded his expectations.

“Comparing it to my previous experiences, it was truly on another level.

“The facilities, such as the library and gyms, were excellent. Each building, including IBSS, offers various study settings. The diverse spaces allowed me to change my study environment and made me feel very refreshed,” he says.

Tay also enjoyed the international environment in his programme.

“I interacted with people from all around the world, such as Europe, Africa, North America, and Southeast Asia.

“As international students, we formed a strong bond, supporting and sharing information with each other. Through these connections, I had the opportunity to learn about their cultures, their reasons for coming to China, their education systems, and their life choices. It really broadened my horizons,” he says. 

Weng Lim (William) Tay travelling in Lijiang, Yunan province

International student ambassador

Although Tay was back on campus, he still felt that he had missed out on a lot of experiences due to the lingering impact of the pandemic.

In Year Four, when he received an email from XJTLU Global recruiting student ambassadors, he applied without hesitation. “I saw it as my last chance to participate in something meaningful and expand my social circle before I graduate,” he says.

As a student ambassador, Tay helped XJTLU Global raise awareness in Malaysia and answered questions from prospective students.

“Being a student ambassador gives me an opportunity to spread awareness about XJTLU and IBSS, not just within my immediate network but also among other Malaysian students. I’d like to provide them with more options apart from studying at national universities in Malaysia,” he says. 

Offer from GCL

In addition, Tay actively participated in job fairs and other networking activities in Year Four. He hosted the 2023 Suzhou Dushu Lake Science and Education Innovation District Global Talent Job Fair, where GCL was recruiting.

After the fair, GCL organised a company visit for 20 outstanding international students from XJTLU and interviewed them directly afterwards.

Among the students, Tay stood out for his sales skills, public speaking, cultural adaptiveness, and proficiency in both English and Chinese. He was offered a Global Sales Associate position at GCL’s Southeast Asia division in Suzhou.

Weng Lim (William) Tay at GCL

Tay says: “GCL is looking for international students who can act as intermediaries between Chinese companies and their overseas branches or subsidiaries.

“I think what sets me apart from other international students is that I can speak both Chinese and English fluently. Being of Chinese descent in Malaysia, I also embrace some Chinese traditions and norms.”

Speaking of the offer, Tay mentions his gratitude towards XJTLU Global.

“This opportunity would not have been possible without the support of XJTLU Global. I initially encountered some visa problems, but XJTLU Global provided me with the necessary documentation and helped me secure the job,” he says.

As Tay looks back on his university life, he can’t help but reflect on the twists and turns that led him to where he is today.

“I realise that every experience, good or bad, has played a role in shaping my journey.

“All the decisions – studying online, changing universities, studying online again, taking part-time jobs, coming to China, working as a student ambassador, and attending the job fair – connected the dots in my life. They opened doors to new possibilities.

“Nothing was wasted,” he says.


By XJTLU Global and Xinmin Han
Edited by Patricia Pieterse
Photos courtesy of Weng Lim (William) Tay

05 Jul 2024


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