De­layed em­ploy­ment can have pos­i­tive re­sults for new grads

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Chen Zel­ing

It was last se­mes­ter, while throw­ing my body and soul into pre­par­ing for a GRE exam, that my best friend an­nounced that she was in­ter­ested in nei­ther con­tin­u­ing her stud­ies nor get­ting a job af­ter grad­u­a­tion. In­stead, she said she wants to spend some time “con­tem­plat­ing” her fu­ture, mean­ing she’s just go­ing to lay around on her par­ents’ sofa play­ing on her phone and watch­ing South Korean soap op­eras.

It is not un­com­mon nowa­days for Chi­nese col­lege grad­u­ates to have no in­ter­est in pur­su­ing a ca­reer or higher ed­u­ca­tion. More and more are opt­ing to travel, do some vol­un­teer work, try their hand at en­trepreneur­ship or just leech off of their par­ents.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey of grad­u­ates in 2017 by Zhaopin.com, 9.8 per­cent of 93,420 re­spon­dents are opt­ing to man­ji­uye (de­layed em­ploy­ment), which is hav­ing a short­term rip­ple ef­fect in the lo­cal job mar­ket and could have long-term con­se­quences on China’s avail­abil­ity of pro­fes­sional tal­ent.

Due to China’s ever-ris­ing qual­ity of life and grow­ing mid­dle class, new univer­sity grads no longer feel con­fined to pur­su­ing the tra­di­tional path of rush­ing for a job or get­ting mar­ried. Broad­en­ing their per­sonal hori­zons is now a pri­or­ity for many, though old-fash­ioned par­ents and lead­ers are calling this “ir­re­spon­si­ble” and “an un­re­al­is­tic dream.”

In my view as a stu­dent, what mat­ters most is not the de­ci­sion these grads make, but the men­tal state be­hind their choice. As long as they keep in mind the im­por­tance of stay­ing truly in­de­pen­dent and not hav­ing to de­pend on any­one else – their par­ents or so­ci­ety – to achieve their goals, then I ap­plaud their free­dom of choice.

Among those stu­dents who do choose to pur­sue the tra­di­tional path of jump­ing right into a job, even if they snag a high salary or con­vince their par­ents to buy them an apart­ment, none of it mat­ters if you are just blindly con­form­ing to so­ci­ety’s ex­pec­ta­tions. The last thing China needs is more “sheeple.”

My aunt re­cently quit her job at a se­cu­ri­ties com­pany to open a small cafe, her life­long dream. She was once en­vied by her peers when, right af­ter grad­u­at­ing univer­sity, she was hired by the com­pany. What they didn’t know, how­ever, is that she only got the job be­cause of guanxi (con­nec­tions), so she never felt re­ally good about it. Af­ter all these decades, she fi­nally worked up the courage to do what she re­ally wants.

The thing is, en­trepreneuri­al­ism is truly the best way to learn es­sen­tial skills that just can’t be taught in school or at the bot­tom of the cor­po­rate lad­der. Jump­ing into the deep end and try­ing your luck will teach you in­valu­able lessons about life, peo­ple and the world that you’ll oth­er­wise never ex­pe­ri­ence. You might even make a suc­cess out of it.

Not just run­ning your own busi­ness, but sim­ply trav­el­ing can open your eyes and mind to as­pects of the world that can never be seen from in­side an of­fice cu­bi­cle. Cai Lulu, au­thor of Gap Year, spent 13 months trav­el­ing to 12 dif­fer­ent coun­tries af­ter quit­ting her first job as a wait­ress. “I learned to em­brace my im­per­fect self and lead a happy life by mak­ing friends with all the peo­ple I met and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing nar­row es­capes on the road. Our youth will never re­turn once it is gone,” Cai wrote in her book.

It is nec­es­sary, how­ever, to es­tab­lish per­sonal lim­its and dead­lines, so as to pre­vent your­self from get­ting lost or drift­ing aim­lessly for too long. Even those who rely on the fi­nan­cial safety-nets of their par­ents need to rec­og­nize that, at some point, they’ll need to set­tle down.

My friend who I men­tioned above fi­nally de­cided to com­bine ed­u­ca­tion and travel and will ap­ply for a mas­ter’s pro­gram abroad. Her fam­ily can af­ford it, and she’s maybe just go­ing back to school so that she can con­tinue to loaf around with­out any real responsibilities. But sooner or later she will come to a cross­roads in her life and be forced to de­cide what she re­ally wants to do and be.

Il­lus­tra­tions: Lu Ting/GT The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the au­thor’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

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