How an American Used WeChat to Land a Job with a Chinese Bank
Last year I became the first foreigner or "Lao wai", as they are called in China to land an internship at a top Chinese investment bank (this article was published by my friend John Patrick Mulin)
I know that getting your dream internship, particularly in the finance world, can be the difference between a job straight out of university, or the stress and worry of finding that dream offer. There is a multitude of very good resources you can use when looking for top investment banking internships in the Western world. However, I’ve found there to be a lack of resources when it comes to the Eastern world, particularly for Mainland China. The Chinese financial markets are notoriously non-transparent and relatively closed off to outside influences, particularly if you’re not proficient in Chinese. Even now, as China’s global financial influence continues to grow, it is still very rare to see foreigners working in the large Chinese financial institutions, which are mainly state-owned.
Hence, I would like to share my experience and some tips on landing a summer internship at a top Chinese investment bank. In particular, how I leveraged social media platforms such as LinkedIn and WeChat (Chinese messaging/social media platform) to accomplish this, and become the first foreign intern in company history.
The steps I took, can be broken down into two major stages; the first being the “Initial Steps”, and the second being “Leveraging the Platform”.
A lot of these steps can be transferred to any job search, but it surprising how many people fail to do even the most basic elements.
1. Make a targeted and a strategically selected list of potential companies in your field of choice. More is not always better – it is better to apply to 10 companies with a great application, than 100 with a good application.
2. Begin researching application procedures to make sure you are aware of all dates & requirements. It is always better to start early, rather than late – I would highly recommend using an Excel file to stay organized and not miss any important dates.
Leveraging the Platform
When looking for your dream internship, particularly in China, it is extremely important to make sure you leverage the proper social media platforms. In China, there are three main sources for job hunting:
1. Traditional Job/Career Websites
I would recommend all three of these channels when trying to find a job in China. For the sake of this article, I will focus on WeChat, given its uniqueness and relevance in the Chinese market. For those of you who may not know what WeChat is, it’s a Chinese messaging and social media platform with over a billion registered accounts, and over 850 million active users as of 2016. It basically is the #1 form of communication in China, and certainly the most used app for anyone who lives in China.
“After having completed my initial preparation for my job search, I began utilizing LinkedIn, and career websites, until I came across the JobTube WeChat group”
JobTube is a WeChat group, that offers a way for recruiters, and job searchers to get in touch over the WeChat platform. This platform allows group members to share job descriptions and resumes, for specific fields or regions e.g. “Shanghai Jobs Group”, or “Banking and Finance Jobs in Shanghai”.
I joined several of the groups and would look at all the different jobs being posted, and reached out to some of the recruiters if the jobs matched my description or I was interested. I would check the group postings several times throughout the day.
- LinkedIn Job Groups JobTube – 100,000+ members
- JobTube WeChat Group (Joined Shanghai & Finance Job Groups) – 5-10 daily job postings
- Sifted through the postings (Received responses from all) – 4 interviews offered
The End Result
After doing some research, I was most intrigued by the position at Guotai Junan Securities (Top 3 State-Owned Chinese Investment Bank). I followed a standard interviewing process, which included a group interview, personality/fit interview, and a technical interview. In the end, I was offered the position and became the first international intern ever hired at the firm. The whole process took approximately 2 weeks from first posting to final offer.
While this by no means guarantees you a job at a Chinese investment bank, it certainly does “put the ball in your court”, as more and more top Chinese financial firms are beginning to look for international talent. So, what are you waiting for? Become one of the first international talents to understand how the Chinese capital markets function from the inside. I promise you it will be a very rewarding experience!