While lounging at home may be an option, choosing to have a job can be a more rewarding route for many young adults. It’s imperative to get a head start and reap the benefits from a job—you can gain experience, solve real-world crises, get some street smarts, develop a better understanding of handling money and learn the value of hard work.
Yet, most young adults in China are not actively seeking jobs or are not even interested in finding one.
Although China’s legal employment age is 16 years old, there is a lack of working students around Dongguan. This is because Chinese school students have academic-based mindsets, and their school system limits extra time for other work.
International school students living in China, on the other hand, may have more time to spare on extracurriculars and out-of-school activities. Compared to Western schools—such as in the United States—the idea of getting a job is not strongly enforced, but it is encouraged. The students’ primary focus continues to be academics and getting into college.
Overall, teenagers have to be motivated and inspired to get a job. Instead of thinking about the downsides of working as a teenager (e.g., difficulty adapting to a workplace environment, issues with age difference, level of maturity), adults should encourage their teenagers to get out of their comfort zones and pursue a job. The earlier they start working, the better they can adapt to a working environment in the future. I interviewed six young adults in Dongguan about their personal job experiences and their unique stories.
Isadora jumped at the opportunity to write for HERE! when her friend and junior editor mentioned a freelance job opening. “Shirley gave me her editor’s WeChat contact. I answered a few questions about my experience as a writer [at the American International School’s online newspaper, The Beacon] and what articles I like writing about. Once that was done, her editor asked me to send a few article samples to her. When she saw them and approved them, she started giving me writing tasks,” Isadora said.With an in-depth understanding of the publication’s style, she has already written multiple sections of the latest issue, including the Dongguan Scoop and Try It Out sections. With junior year approaching, Isadora also discussed how the pressure of universities wanting a diverse application motivated her to get a job.“Having a job on your application will really help you stand out, since not many teenagers have an actual job. It’s something good to do with your time instead of staying at home and being unproductive,” she said.
With a headspace for street style fashion, Jisoo started his brand Off The Community and took it upon himself to drive the whole operation from start to finish. He talked about the process of designing his brand products.
“The first step is to look for the style and fabric that I want for my clothes. Secondly, I would make a sample of the front and back of the design using Photoshop. Lastly, I would send these samples to the factory to print out,”Jisoo said.
Currently, Off The Community has seven different t-shirts for sale on their main website.
As a young CEO and creative director, Jisoo realized that being a teenager is a disadvantage when creating a clothing brand. Often, he has to ask for his parents’ opinion on business aspects of the brand or he has to self-educate himself on a lot of difficult skills. In the future, Jisoo hopes to learn more about the fashion industry and continue to grow his brand.
Upon seeing Jojo guide a friend on how to play baseball, the owners of baseball practice center Better Batter noticed his coaching potential and offered him a job.
“My initial incentive was to go out and spread the game of baseball to the locals,” Jojo said. “It’s not about the money—it’s about my passion for the game and how much I want to share it with others.”
Today, Jojo has a coach status at Better Batter, where he works for four hours every Saturday. Due to his baseball experience at the Qilins Baseball Academy and the Dongguan Dragons Baseball Club, Jojo is in charge of teaching incoming Better Batter customers about the fundamentals of hitting a baseball as well as how to use the equipment.
“This job helps me with my level of patience [with the students] and collaborative skills. I also get to learn from the owners about the business aspect and what lures customers in and what doesn’t, “he said. As a final note, he reflected on one main lesson that he learned from coaching at Better Batter: “Don’t be afraid to talk, ask and really reach out.”
Luna’s role consists of teaching English reading, writing and speaking skills to ESL, elementary school and middle school kids. In consideration with young children’s short attention spans, her tutoring goal is to always implement entertaining teaching methods as well as constructive learning.
“I take their grade level and plan some reading, grammar and speaking exercises for the first lesson so I can gauge their level of English, personality and interests. I also start brainstorming topics about culture, mainly from English-speaking countries. Then, I usually find one long story to be read and analyzed for each student. The [lesson planning] process is really hard sometimes and can be very frustrating—thank God for the internet,” Luna remarked.
As of now, she has completed four different tutoring jobs; each session is approximately one hour or more and her medium price is 50 RMB per hour. Despite receiving less pay compared to professional English tutors, Luna believes that her age is still her advantage, because she has the ability to relate to the children more.
Mike Daniel Capua
While it isn’t his dream to work in a bar, Mike’s part-time job at Murray’s Irish Pub consists of waiting tables and bartending for four to eight hours per shift. Initially, his brother offered him the job and recommended that they take turns working shifts. He started off as a runner in June, which is basically organizing the utensils.
After three months, Mike has attained a thorough understanding of how a bar operates. Still, he recalls a few obstacles that he encountered at work.
“Last Friday, it was just three people working. There were too many customers, some of the workers forgot about the kitchen closing at 12:30 a.m., others were not putting the dishes in the correct place… There’s going to be a lot of mistakes, but I take it as a learning experience,” he said.
Even though his goal is to excel in computer science, Mike believes that his experience of overcoming challenges at Murray’s Irish Pub will assist him in tackling difficult situations in the future.
Art has always been the career path for Yesser. Her dream of selling original merchandise designs motivated her to start a sticker business. Despite having zero background in sticker production and design, Yesser had a passion for drawing.
“My teacher Mr. Lee gave me the idea to start producing my own stickers. At first, I was unsure of the idea, but he motivated me to keep going and pushed me when I felt like I didn’t want to continue this project,” Yesser said.
Regarding the process of creating each sticker, Yesser would put herself in the mindset of a consumer and ask herself if she would buy a particular sticker design she had in mind. Afterwards, she would hop on Photoshop and illustrate the sticker, which she then sends to her sticker supplier and producers. The final step is to simply promote the sticker on WeChat.
“[The process] isn’t as easy as it sounds. In the beginning, I wouldn’t get as many orders, but soon enough, I had to ask a lot of friends for help because I couldn’t keep up with the sales! My advice is to just go after your goals and dreams, and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t follow the path you want to,” Yesser said.