10 Career Paths for Shanghai Study Abroad Alumni (& a Scholarship Announcement!)

Nov 10, 2015 1:30:00 PM / by Stephanie Sadler

International study is a great way to show potential employers that you are willing to work outside of your comfort zone and are able to cooperate with people from diverse backgrounds. But as the number of American students who study abroad increases, you may be looking for a way to stand out from the crowd. If you are thinking about entering one of these fields after graduation, China is the destination for you!

1. EDUCATION. Whether you plan on teaching or working in leadership and administration, studying in the world’s largest country is sure to give you a new perspective on education. Shanghai’s school system has been ranked number one in the world; not only is that an incredible achievement, but don’t forget that all of Shanghai’s development has happened in just the past couple of decades. American schools are looking toward Asia for models of educational excellence. As American classrooms become more diverse, schools are looking for teachers and administrators who have international experience; Shanghai is an international megacity that will expose you to global perspectives like nowhere else. 


2. URBAN PLANNING. In the past 25 years, Shanghai’s population has grown by more than 10 million people. Just that number alone is bigger than any city in the United States! How does a city function with 24 million people? What’s more, how does it function well? When you get to Shanghai, you’ll experience efficient public transportation, massive infrastructure investment, and a never-ending series of skyscrapers. If urban planning, architecture, transportation, and civil engineering are your interests, you will have no better laboratory for learning than Shanghai. Employers are looking for people who understand the cities of the future, and Shanghai epitomizes what’s to come.


3. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS. The United States has been the leader in foreign policy since World War II. But look around the world today, and you’ll see another powerhouse on the move: China. If you’re looking to work in politics and international affairs, you have to understand China. Even if your focus in school or in your job is Europe, Africa, Latin America, or somewhere else on the globe, China will play a part in your career. Spending time in Shanghai will help you understand China’s history and motivations for the future. Not only that, but you’ll be able to learn about a political system and culture that works very differently from the United States, which is exactly the kind of mindset you’ll need to excel in this career.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Shanghai_Fall 2015_

4. FASHION. Traditionally, we’ve looked to the United States and Europe for fashion trends and powerful brands. However, with China’s booming wealth and growing population, Shanghai has become a new fashion center of the world. While Western brands are influential and easy to find in Shanghai, local brands are inspired by Eastern traditions and Chinese perspectives. In such a competitive field as fashion, you will stand out from the crowd by knowing how to blend east and west into something truly unique. 

5. COMMUNICATIONS. To really excel in a communications career, you need to be able to find your voice and make that voice heard by anyone. What better place to explore communication (and miscommunication) than a place that uses a different writing system, a different set of body language, and a different approach to media? The cultural differences in communication are vast, and by living in China you’ll not only experience it but understand it. Shanghai is also home to people from all around the world, and learning how to navigate a diverse urban megacity will give you the skills and confidence needed for this career. 

Photo credit: ECNU International Students Office, Shanghai

6. BUSINESS. China is the most crucial destination for anyone looking for a career in business. Period. Even if you plan on never working outside of the United States, you have a very good chance of interacting with China in your career. China is the second largest economy in the world, after the US (and some argue that they are actually leading now). China is a center of manufacturing, agriculture, energy, and technology. Shanghai itself was a city created for global business and trade. To be able to tell a potential employer that you not only learned about China, but you studied this dragon of an economy while actually living in Shanghai, will make you stand out like a pair of chopsticks in a pile of forks. 

Photo: Economics class outside of the Shanghai Stock Exchange by Colin Speakman

7. PSYCHOLOGY. Being a good psychiatrist, therapist, or even social worker requires empathy and being able to see situations from various perspectives. This is exactly what learning in China is all about. While living and learning in China you’ll experience different methods of communication, family values, relationship standards, and the impact of cultural expectations on individuals. Taking yourself out of your own comfort zone helps you open up to these new experiences and learn even more than you would back home. Experiencing China through its biggest city of Shanghai also gives you a perspective on how rapidly changing modern life impacts people young and old. 

8. MARKETING. The power of the brand is extremely strong in China. Famous worldwide brands like Nike, Samsung, and Louis Vuitton are very popular in China. With a growing middle and upper class, particularly in the dazzling city of Shanghai, marketing and advertising play a huge role in how consumers are making their decisions. You cannot go anywhere in Shanghai without seeing advertisements, whether on the subway or in a restaurant. Companies from around the world want to get their products into China and into the memories of their hundreds of millions of consumers with disposable incomes. Learning how to market something to a population this huge and this inundated with advertising is a skill for any 21st century marketing professional.

9. TECHNOLOGY. China has more than 668 million internet users, which is more than double the population of the United States. Chinese people are purchasing new technology and consuming media at higher rates than anywhere else on earth. As soon as you get to Shanghai, you will be impressed by the technology on display, from the modern trains to the ubiquitous smartphones. Technology moves fast in China, and the rest of the world is trying to catch up. Not only does technology improve quality of life, but it also presents challenges like cyber security. A foot in the door in China will make you extremely valuable for a tech company back home looking to understand the fast-paced competitor on the other side of the world. 

10. PUBLIC HEALTH: It is a massive undertaking to keep over one billion people healthy and safe. China is a unique case study in food and water security, disease, and sanitation. Their health emergencies are so impactful on the world that we hear about them in our own news media: bird flu, SARS, contaminated meat and milk. Both the health system and the government of China work very differently from the United States, which makes understanding them extremely important if you anticipate working in any area of global health. Even if you are planning a career as a nurse or doctor in the United States, you will likely be impacted by health issues in China in the future. 

Through our courses, internships, and experiential learning in Shanghai, you will get to know China at a deep and personally impactful level. Even if you plan on living in the United States for your whole life, you will benefit immensely from a study abroad experience in China. Whether you seek it out or not, the size and importance of China means that this country will impact your career in the future. Why not get a step ahead now?

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CAPA is pleased to annouced a brand new need-based scholarship of UP TO $3,500 for CAPA Shanghai students studying abroad during Spring semester 2016. Deadline: December 4, 2015

Apply for a Shanghai Scholarship!


Topics: Travel, Shanghai, China, Careers