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Tarin

Software development related roles in China

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Tarin

大家好

This is my first post on this forums, I apologise if I've missed any content that was already created and I am duplicating stuff.

 

Due to personal reasons I'll be trying my best to move in to Shanghai and I want to secure a role in my field which is IT (Web, App, software development). Over time I've heard a mixture of opinions. One Polish person told me that in order to get an IT job in China i'll need to speak really good Mandarin and it will always be difficult for me to get employed because they'll always prefer Chinese nationals over foreign IT staff. As a counterpart to this there are Chinese people saying it won't be difficult for me to get any job in China at all. In addition to that they say that English is far more important than Mandarin.

I think this is the right place to discuss about a such thing, are there any experienced people in here that work in IT that could shed some light on the situation? It's not that I am not willing to learn the language though. I love it and I want to become fluent asap.

 

Do they prefer to hire Chinese, or is it the skill that matters at the end?

What's the working culture, especially compared to the UK (holidays, stress, you know it)

 

There's probably many more things I would like to cover as I don't know that much yet about the professional environment in China however I don't want this thread to turn into a book.

 

Regards, Have a good one reader. 

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杰.克

Can i ask first why you want to move to Shanghai? It seems like its on a bit plucked out of thin air. Even with answers to all your questions, you probably don't want to move half way across the world (especially during a pandemic)  without some serious personal passions/driving forces/ genuine motivations.

 

 

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大块头
On 7/22/2020 at 3:47 PM, Tarin said:

What's the working culture, especially compared to the UK (holidays, stress, you know it)

 

Expect to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. Official holidays are few in number, not given precise dates by the government and tyrannical managers until the last minute (good luck planning international travel), and afforded to everybody at once (to have a visceral 人山人海 experience, attempt to visit any Chinese scenic area during a national holiday that isn't CNY).

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大块头
16 hours ago, Tarin said:

As a counterpart to this there are Chinese people saying it won't be difficult for me to get any job in China at all. In addition to that they say that English is far more important than Mandarin.

 

Do these people work in the Chinese software industry? (I can only offer an engineering consulting perspective.) You should try reaching out to some Chinese programmers via LinkedIn for an informal chat.

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Tarin

@杰.克 Personal reasons. I don't really want to dwell into that in public forums (may do over a cup of virtual coffee in a private message if you're interested). 

@大块头 This indeed sounds scary compared to the UK standards and no these people aren't related to IT nor the Chinese software industry. Thanks for the advice though I'll try to reach out to some programmers on linkedin

 

I don't think it's the case with all Chinese companies though, the 996 system?

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大块头
46 minutes ago, Tarin said:

I don't think it's the case with all Chinese companies though, the 996 system?

 

No, but it is definitely the norm in the IT industry.

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mungouk

@Tarin did you try looking for jobs on LinkedIn?  I just did a search for "developer" jobs in Shanghai and there are 1000+ results.

 

Also TikTok is expanding like crazy right now (not sure how this affects Bytedance per se), Ant Financial is heading for an enormous double IPO, and TenCent is doing well too, so there may be opportunities springing up in these companies.

 

But what makes you different enough that a Shanghai-based operation can justify hiring you rather than a local person?  They will have to make a case for this.

 

 

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杰.克
2 hours ago, Tarin said:

Personal reasons.

 

Ok reason i ask is this.

 

1) If the personal reasons are you met a person who you love, and have been swept of your feet and are just desperate to get there ASAP and so have not really prepared much, or investigated. Then in truth you will overcome all the work difficulties and cultural differences that are thrown at you (because you have a personal driver). And so people on here will happily help you answer your questions(or something similar)

 

2) if the personal reasons are because you decided you want to find a high paying job. Even if you know all of the differences before hand, and even if you can find said job. The novelty, and more importantly motivation (to live in China) will wear off (because you have no link to china)

 

I hesitate to add this, because perhaps your not this at all, but sometimes i see posts in this format - i know nothing about china, mandarin, industry's that are hiring there, the culture, the differences, the visa system, the bureaucracy, the food, the housing conditions.... but i've decided i want to go because life is too short, so please help me. Although its a noble concept, in reality, life doesn't work like that.  Its actually more of a favour to say, some of these things (not all) you should know already yourself, because your interest is serious. For example you would have already enrolled on a beginners mandarin class, or you would have googled yourself the work holidays in China and know they are less than the UK.

 

That being said here are some answers

 

- I believe you have a good chance in a number of industries with only english. Particularly in tier 1 cities, your colleagues will have good command of english, and they wont be hiring you based on your mandarin ability. There are many foerginers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou who work comfortably with little to no Mandarin. 

- The working culture is more demanding than the UK. (on average) Longer hours, less holidays and less pay (Chinese companies). You are also expected to commit more time to work social events (think monthly meals and KTV). Also the standard of HR is not yet an equivalent level as the UK.  

- It hard to judge, but if i were pushed, i would say people are more stressed in China. The workload is higher. Although they do have a stronger sense of a brighter future, and so in that sense, with a growing economy, and positive news, they are less stressed.

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Tarin

@杰.克

Option number 1, I've got a personal driver and I'm committed to go to China, I am learning things every day and this topic is a part of the research because it's always good to read to people's opinions.

 

You've been a massive help, thanks loads. Especially the last dash points :)

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杰.克

Cool thats great then buddy. Best of luck! Any more questions people will be happy to help with! The work culture is definitely different, particularly if you work at a Chinese company rather that say a western company in China 

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feihong

@Tarin What particular type of app development do you do now or plan to do in the near future? It can have a big impact on your job search. The Chinese software landscape is not the same as you will see in other parts of the world. For example, I’ve heard that Lua is a big part of the web stack at Chinese companies, while that’s relatively rare in the US. 

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BlackMamba

Many Chinese websites and apps and even websites like AliExpress, Chinese bank and airline websites... are messed up in both development and marketing in my opinion. For many smaller Chinese companies it should be the same. Few I have seen get it done well however. Maybe there will be opportunities for foreigners to work based in China on this because app design and marketing is just very different in China and the West?

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889

Cluttered to the point of almost being unusable is the first thought that comes to mind whenever I come across a Chinese website.

 

But that's not ignorance to design: it reflects the prevailing fashion.

 

Search "Chinese cluttered websites" on Google and you'll get links to sites that explain it:

 

“Our consumers like a page very crowded, busy with lots of links, at the same time you opening many windows at the same time… So when you go into the Chinese consumer psyche, they want to have a chaotic bazaar type experience…They want to create this shopping atmosphere.”

 

https://sampi.co/why-do-chinese-websites-seem-so-cluttered/

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BlackMamba

What you think is the best out of:

  • BSc Computer Science (Machine Learning and AI)
  • BSc Computer Science (Data Science)
  • BSc Computer Science (Web and Mobile Development)
  • BSc Computer Science (Physical Computing and the Internet of Things)
  • BSc Computer Science (Games Development)
  • BSc Computer Science (Virtual Reality)
  • BSc Computer Science (User Experience)

for working in China as foreigner and also in the years / decades to come? Web and Mobile Development I like the most as I have a lot of experience in it already.

 

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sekkar

It will probably differ a lot depending on what kind of software job you look for and your experience, but I can give you my experience at least.

 

Background: my field is embedded software (so I dont have any experience in looking for mobile app/web stuff jobs...), master's degree, 2+ years of experience. Got a job and moved to Shanghai a year ago.

 

I think I probably applied for maybe 10 jobs, and the only one I heard back from was the one I ended up getting. I was probably lucky, as this is a company that had a culture for hiring foreigner. My impression is that a lot of companies will not consider foreigners for IT/software jobs. Most will find hiring a Chinese person preferable, and why wouldn't they? No language and cultural barrier . Dont need to worry about visas etc. Your Chinese friends are probably either living in the past or thinking about English teacher jobs or something. Most IT companies will definitely not hire you just because you are a white face.

 

Some random points:

  • As far as I know you basically need two years of working experience to get a visa (some special exceptions though)
  • Don't expect to make bank, Shanghai is expensive and IT salaries are not that high (compared to the west)
  • 996 is a thing, Chinese employers value people that work a lot. Luckily my company is a bit more relaxed. Be careful when accepting a job if you don't want this kind of life. Seems like international companies are better when it comes to this.
  • There are jobs where English is the working language, so Mandarin is not mandatory
  • Number of holidays sucks when compared to European jobs
  • Basically any aspect of the job will be worse than what you would experience in an average European software job, but not that much worse if you find the right job.

To end on a more positive note, I'm still enjoying my life here in Shanghai and don't regret moving😅

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杰.克
52 minutes ago, sekkar said:

996 is a thing, Chinese employers value people that work a lot. Luckily my company is a bit more relaxed. Be careful when accepting a job if you don't want this kind of life. Seems like international companies are better when it comes to this.

 

Yeah I very much here this sentiment alot from people I know in this industry. Its more understandable as well, when you consider people in China are very bullish about their futures (and with reason to be) the equation of 'I will work hard today, for a brighter future tomorrow" makes more sense with a growing economy and a sense you can get in at the start of companies that potentially going to grow and expand and have career ladders that are growing. So 996 comes that bit much easier!  

 

 

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mungouk
3 hours ago, BlackMamba said:

What you think is the best out of:

 

Nobody's going to employ a fresh foreign graduate, so I would say the specialisation isn't important.  Experience counts for a lot more. 

 

A compsci degree is a compsci degree.

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mungouk
1 hour ago, sekkar said:

Number of holidays sucks when compared to European jobs

 

Although worth remembering that as well as the stated annual leave, you should also get a week off in October (national day/golden week) and at least a week around Spring Festival.

 

Plus a day here and there for Qing Ming, Dragon Boat festival etc.

 

 

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889

Nobody's instituted a 99652 rule?

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