Attraction of First-Tier Cities Weakens, Half of Graduates Go Home to Find Work (part 1)

by elbbj on January 15, 2013

For college graduates born during the 90s, the draw of cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou is weakening. There are more and more who want to head home and develop their careers in second-tier cities.

Reports this morning covered the meetings of the 14th International Western China Fair Hangzhou Professional Recruitment Conference and the Hangzhou City 2013 University Graduate Recruitment Fair. According to university graduates born during the 90s:

“After I graduated from school in Guangzhou last year I found this job in Hangzhou. Originally I hoped it would be a little closer to home. I didn’t realize I’d have travel internationally often for work. Even though salary isn’t bad, I still want to find something else.” Over the past two days, Hangzhou-native Ms. Chu has been making serious efforts at all sorts of job fairs. She wants to find a new job, and it has to be in Hangzhou.

Yesterday, the 14th International Western China Fair Hangzhou Professional Recruitment Conference and the Hangzhou City 2013 University Graduate Recruitment Fair were held in the Heping International Expo Center.

With the combination of these two events, the scale of activities far exceeded those of past sessions. Over 1000 different hiring organizations were in attendance promoting more than 20 thousand open positions. 46,553 job seekers came, with  15,080 finding new positions.

Reporters found that for college graduates born during the 90s, the draw of cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou is weakening. There are more and more who want to head home and develop their careers in second-tier cities.


This Year I Want to Find a Job in Hangzhou

Ms. Chu graduated last year from Guangzhou University of Foreign Studies with a major in Spanish Language.

“I’m from Hangzhou, and I’ve never really been away from my parents other than during college.” Ms. Chu said that before she graduated last year, she went back to Hangzhou to look for work. In the end, she signed a contract with a state-owned enterprise where she found not only a good salary but also good prospects for development.

It was only after she started working that Ms. Chu found out she would have to travel internationally for work often.

“The company has a lot of projects in foreign countries. I’m a project manager, and since I studied Spanish, they arranged for me to go to Venezuela,” said Ms. Chu. Even though she didn’t want to leave her family and work abroad at that time, she thought it’d be a good experience, and since she studied Spanish, the language spoken in Venezuela, going there would be beneficial to her own skills.

So just like that, Ms. Chu went to Venezuela.

“I was there for a year, and I felt like I couldn’t fit in,” she said. What worried her and her family members most was safety concerns, but there were also differences in lifestyle, cuisine, socialization, and customs that were difficult for her.

Ms. Chu eventually decided to resign even though the salary was good. “I want to find a job in Hangzhou. My parents and friends are all here, I feel like I belong here.”

“I haven’t been back for long, and this is my first school fair,” said Ms. Chu. She wants to find a a job in Hangzhou, hopefully a management-focused position.


Still Want to Return to Hangzhou After Living in Shanghai & Beijing

Ms. Lu from Taizhou currently works in a bank in Hangzhou. It’s a 9 to 5 position without much stress. It’s easy to spend time with get together with old classmates and good friends when she’s free, or go to the Qingzhiwu cafe to reminisce over some tea. It’s a pretty laid back life.

Ms. Lu said that it was only after she spent time in Shanghai and Beijing that she understood the value of this unhurried lifestyle.

“At that time, a company came from Shanghai to Yuquan to do some PR work, and the boss interviewed me, then they hired me,” said Ms. Lu. It was consulting work, and she was responsible for helping with the investment research institute.

Ms. Lu rented a room in Shanghai just two stops away from the company. It was an older apartment from the 80s with two bedrooms and a living room, and she paid 2000 RMB per month.

The pace of life in Shanghai is very fast, and there were many tasks for Ms. Lu to complete every day. “Every day I had to write commentaries, and there was a larger report to complete every month.” According to Ms. Lu, she was busy working in the office until 7 or 8 most nights.

“It’s a big city and the work is hard, I felt a little trapped.” This is how Ms. Lu sums up her experience working in Shanghai.

At the beginning of the new year, a financial news media organization in Beijing offered Ms. Lu a job.  “I studied abroad during college and my English isn’t bad,” explained Ms. Lu. Her responsibilities in the position were mainly looking up international financial data and writing some related documents.

With a try-and-see attitude, Ms. Lu went to Beijing. She still shared an apartment with roommates, this time it was an old place around the 2nd Ring Road with two bedrooms and a living room. Her rent was 2300 RMB per month. But she didn’t stay long this time either, and after just three months of on-the-job training, she went back to Hangzhou.

“I didn’t know anyone and it was hard to get used to living there,” said Ms. Lu. But in Hangzhou, she was familiar with everything, had friends all around her, and felt free and confident.

After graduating, Ms. Lu passed an exam to work at a bank in Hangzhou. She rented a room on Tiyuchang Road, also part of a shared apartment. This one was newly renovated and comfortable, and was just 1500 RMB per month.

“Once I was back in Hangzhou it was so much easier to go see my parents.” Ms. Lu is an only child, and her parents also feel that Hangzhou is the best place for her to work.


Half of Students Choose to Go Home for Work

Spot interviews with 50 college seniors round that half of the students had chosen to go back to their hometowns for work after graduation. Seven chose Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or other first-tier cities, thirteen chose second-tier cities, and five were uncertain. Among those who chose first-tier cities, one said that Shanghai was his hometown, and he wanted to go back.

What factors are considered in choosing a location for work? In order of importance, their responses were prospects for professional development, local cost of living, family, and friends and classmates.

Ms. Liu, a student at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, is from the city of Lishui. According to Ms. Liu, her family isn’t doing that well. Her mother is getting older, and she wants to go home to work after she graduates so that she can take care of her parents.

Ms. Min, a preventative medicine major at Zhejiang University said that she consider professional development most important. “I’m still young, and I just want good prospects. I’ll work for a few years and then think about it some more,” she said.


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