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Using Chinese professionally


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Hey everyone. I'm curious about everyone's experiences using Chinese for work or to build a career. What kind of work do you do/have you done? How are your Chinese skills relevant? 


As for myself, I've worked in higher education for a number of years, which has involved helping Chinese-speaking international students. I'm also a freelance translator. In both these capacities, I use Chinese every day. My opportunities to work in higher ed were, I believe, directly related to my Chinese skills.


After so many years of learning Chinese, being able to use it professionally has been extremely rewarding. I would love to hear your stories as well.

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For me, Chinese is helpful for building relationships, finding positions and the occasional meeting or proposal but it's not directly important to my job. Most of my coworkers don't speak Chinese and it doesn't impact their jobs. When I started learning I thought it would have a greater influence on my career but it doesn't matter because I'm studying Chinese for general interest.

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When I started in the early 2000s I was one of a relatively few foreign Mandarin speakers working for a foreign bank in China. From a career perspective, that helped with getting promoted, and it was still a bit of a "superpower" in that it was sufficiently unusual that you'd often be remembered by clients/ government officials. That ship has probably sailed but I think overall that's a good thing.


I later did some private equity work, which if nothing else is a crash course in jungle survival and asks for a much more "streetwise" set of language skills -- more about reading what is not being said. I don't know exactly how, but I came out alive. This was followed by a stint as a business owner, which is really more of the same but with your life savings at stake.


Now I run an investment practice focused on global equities. Chinese is very useful as it allows me to check primary sources, read filings, speak to people in more informal settings etc. This would be true of any language, but given the size of the economy and the general confusion surrounding how it functions, I feel it's a valuable skillset to have at this time (though it's certainly not sufficient, as there is a large number of highly educated bilingual speakers out there).

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Not a job requirement, but I am able to communicate directly to students parents in Chinese about their child's 学习情况. It's nice and often puts the parents at ease as opposed to the wechat/dingtalk translation meetings other teachers often have to resort to. It also makes meetings I have with admin much less eye gauging because I don't need to wait for them to struggle and piece together a translation.


'Tomorrow we the school...I mean our campus...the West campus...will outside...at half past 8 o'clock....reunite tomorrow in the morning...for the ceremony of upping a national Chinese flag...in the sky...tomorrow'





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