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7 Must Have Skills to Be Guaranteed a Job After Graduation

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7 Must Have Skills to Be Guaranteed a Job After Graduation

universitiy admissions are at an all time high.jpg

Once considered a path for the intellectual, enrollments to universities and colleges around the world are at all-time highs. This, of course, means that a record number of graduating students are finishing their degrees and searching for relevant jobs. Competition for such positions has never been so fierce. While obtaining such a sought-after position may be a little more difficult in the modern day, that doesn’t mean the opportunity is off limits to you.

With the right skills, you can drastically improve your chances. We’ve put together 7 must-have skills as viewed by management and recruiters across a range of industries.


Cultural Agility

In the modern day, the majority of businesses are often operating in a global environment. Whether through clientele, outsourcing projects or ordering supplies from abroad, it’s likely you’ll encounter foreign cultures in some respect. To succeed in such an environment, it’s necessary to have an understanding of cultural norms and to be culturally sensitive. Business practices invariably change from one culture to another. The understanding of these differences could mean the difference between obtaining or losing prospective business.


Communication Skills

Communication can take many forms and is viewed as one of the key attributes an employee must have by recruiters. The spread of ideas, the sharing of information and the resolving of conflicts are all part of communication that can take place both internally and outside an organization. This can also include the aforementioned cultural knowledge and communication across a range of cultures and business environments.


Perhaps the most important of all attributes for prospective employees to possess is the ability to work as part of a team. This means co-operating on projects and addressing issues as they arise, ensuring small problems don’t escalate. It also means managing conflicts. Not only conflicts with the work itself but clashes between personalities and personal agendas.



Perhaps a graduate fresh out of college wouldn’t expect leadership to be a trait they are judged on. They’d be wrong. Leadership can take various forms and isn’t solely reserved for upper management or ownership. The ability and confidence to make decisions is one aspect of leadership, as is encouraging and motivating fellow employees. This doesn’t have to take a verbal form, but can be demonstrated through commitment and dedication to the task. Delegation of tasks is another essential component of effective leadership, something new employees should already be looking at executing.


The ability to plan and prioritize work leads to efficiency in the workplace (a major corporate buzzword) and ensures the most important tasks are delivered first. Deadlines have to be met and how you demonstrate your ability to meet them will be taken into account. While organization comes naturally to some, there’s no doubt it’s a learnable/teachable skill. If you can demonstrate this effectively, starting with your resume, you’ll get a considerable jump-start on the competition.


Specific Technical Skills/Knowledge

Gone are the days where it paid to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. In our current day and age, corporations look for highly skilled individuals, with expertise in 1 or 2 specific areas. Obviously, it pays to build this expertise for the position you wish to apply for.

School specific training isn’t necessarily adequate to demonstrate this, practical and extra-curricular coursework/training is viewed favorably.


Ability to Analyze Data

The need to understand analytics is essential to most industries. Whether you are working in a field such as marketing, law or human resources, part of your position will involve data analysis in some aspect. Whether it be analyzing the performance of a marketing budget or understanding demographics of your target customers, numbers allow a more effective service or product to be delivered.

It is essential to give yourself an evaluation of the 7 areas listed above and determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Perhaps with the help of a trusted source who knows you well. In the areas you lack, it’s a good idea to take a course or study relevant material that will allow you to improve. While it’s better to excel in a few select skills rather than be average or above average at all of them, it’s also important not to forego competence in any.

By focusing on the 7 skills highlighted above, you’re drastically improving the chances of landing the job you’ve spent such a long time studying for.

Are there any other skills you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

Join our China Internship Program and Take the time to develop your professional skill sets. Contact Miranda for more information at or find more information here

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10 ways to connect with the local culture when interning, traveling, or living abroad


10 ways to connect with the local culture when interning, traveling, or living abroad

To the travelers of the world, rather than the tourists, a cultural experience means something a little different.

Rather than visiting the famous landmarks, museums and renowned historical sights of a region and then moving on, travelers prefer to immerse themselves in a new environment to gain a deeper understanding as to how others live around the world. Here are 10 ways you can go about connecting with a local culture on your next trip abroad;

Volunteer: The popularity of volunteering abroad has sky-rocketed in recent years, and for good reason.

Firstly, you’re doing something genuinely positive for individuals trapped in a situation likely far worse than your own. Secondly, it’s a fantastic way to experience the way of life in a foreign environment. If you’re hotel hopping in the major cities of a nation, you’re missing out on experiencing the way the majority of a population lives. Volunteering can offer that insight while being a rewarding experience in its own right. One that couldn’t be recommended highly enough.

Festivals/Events: Nothing says ‘culture’ like local festivals and displays of the local customs and traditions.

These can be religious, historical or simply localized rituals that truly capture the imagination. These usually allow artistic expression of the cultures presence in a society. Get involved and immerse yourself in the experience. You’ll connect with the local culture in a way you could never do through any other means.

Living/Accommodation: Couchsurfing has seen its popularity grow rapidly as travelers are catching on to the benefits of this amazing system.

It’s often viewed simply as a place to score free accommodation, though there’s so much more to the opportunity. When Couchsurfing, you’re likely to be staying with a local host. What better way to understand how local lives than to actually love with one? Most hosts are open to meeting and interaction with travelers; otherwise, they would never volunteer to host in the first place. You’ll get the opportunity to experience activities and places only a local would know about.

Drinking: What better way to rapidly befriend someone than by sharing a few brews?

Alcohol tends to get the conversation flowing freely and the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages is rather prevalent across the globe. Spend some time in spots that are popular with locals, whether that be local bars or other random watering holes. It’s a great way to shed the initial apprehension and conversational restraints that may inhibit other interactions. Just don’t go overboard!


Public Transport /Hitch-hiking: Rather than taking taxis or driving everywhere, try catching a local bus or train (stay in 3rd class rather than isolating yourself in 1st).

Another alternative is to hitch-hike. This can be a little risky and is not necessarily advised everywhere. Ensure you are reasonably comfortable in your surroundings and have some kind of safety measure in place if you choose the latter option.

Language Learning: It can be difficult to truly connect with a local culture if a language barrier exists.

One way to overcome this obstacle and gain a greater understanding is to take language lessons at a local school or with a local tutor. Not only will this improve your language skills, you’ll likely meet like-minded individuals to practice with and perhaps get involved in other activities. On the other side of the coin, perhaps teaching your native tongue abroad could provide similar opportunities.

Stay Put: Immerse yourself

Don’t continuously move around. It can be difficult to truly get a feel for the way of life in a different part of the world if you’re continually jumping around from town to town. Slow it down. You’ll get a greater appreciation and a deeper connection when staying in 1 spot.

Walk Around: You will learn more about a place in 2 hours of walking than you will in 2 days of driving or catching taxis.

Walking slows you down, forcing you to interact on at least the most basic of levels with your surroundings. You’re much more likely to strike up a conversation or stumble across something that catches your eye. It’s a great way to explore new territory and much better for your health!

Be Open to New Possibilities: You can put all the above advice to use, however, if you’re not open to new experiences, none of it will matter.

They say travel broadens the mind. Well, I’d suggest that is only the case for those who are willing to allow their minds to be shaped by their experiences. Embrace the unknown and your cultural experience will be so much the richer for it.

Cuisine: Love of food is a universal trait and a great way to get acquainted with the local culture.

Some travelers even rate culinary experiences as the key reason they travel! If you’re not eating the local produce, you’re simply missing out on a key part of the journey.

Not only do you gain an appreciation for the local way of life (how one eats says a lot about them), sharing food offers a great chance to bond with the locals. Stay away from the large restaurants and food chains. Instead, eat at local markets and hole-in-the-wall joints that offer authenticity and a genuine sampling of what the locals eat. If you stick to places that are busy, with a high turnover rate, you should avoid any food related illnesses that put many travelers off this activity.


Reason To Visit China: Increased Environmental-Friendly Awareness Through Fashion


Reason To Visit China: Increased Environmental-Friendly Awareness Through Fashion

Joan Suh Interview with Pawnstar

In China, reducing our carbon footprint through environmental initiatives are paramount.

As a center of production, businesses are pushing the envelope in terms of providing sustainably resourced goods and services. These are seen through the influx and recent interest in marketing up-cycled goods and green initiatives. According to the compilation of data from the projected trends for 2017 from The State of Fashion 2017,consumers are becoming more tech-savvy. Therefore, they are more aware of how their products are sourced. It is with the introduction of a shrewder customer clientele that an environmentally friendly take towards fashion becomes more accepted.

In the recent years, consignment shops have been gaining more popularity in China. To be able to reuse a previously owned garment not only extends its use, it creates less waste.

Pawnstar, proprietor of consigned goods is a premier example of progressive businesses providing Eco-friendly alternative without compromising quality or style.

As their brick-and-mortar headquarters is located in Shanghai, when they come for conventions in Beijing, it is a real treat. As they have their online store on Taobao and Wechat featuring men's, women's, and accessories (bags, jewelry, belts, etc.), they are experiencing much success in Beijing as well.

In this piece, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jane the owner/operator of the vintage paradise that is Pawnstar. 

What inspired you/shaped your initial decision to up-cycle /go into green initiatives? Was it difficult starting out?

 I've always been bothered by waste, whether it is of food, electricity, or clothing.  The proliferation of cheap products in people's homes and in their wardrobes from toys to fast fashion have concerned me for quite a while.

When living in a place as polluted and crowded as China, it is not difficult to make the connection between environmental degradation and unnecessary production and consumption.  I wanted to do something that would make a small contribution to solving some of these problems but that also could be a viable, portable, business.  

I think it's still quite challenging as any business tends to be at most points in its development.  Of course getting things started always does take a special kind of a drive but the difficulties of scaling up can be even greater

What goes through your mind when selecting your materials that you use to create your end product ( material sourcing/items that can be up-cycled)?

First of all, I'm not the designer but the business owner and operator.

Pawnstar works with a talented designer named Nisa who creates the up-cycled items that we sell. In general, I believe that she tries to find materials that are higher quality and that have an interesting style that can be incorporated into a larger whole.  At the same time, we don't want to take apart an item that can still be sold and worn so we also look for items that have some kind of flaw that makes it difficult to use in its existing form.

Where do you source your materials?

Before being an up-cycling business, we are a consignment shop.  We get all of the items that we sell directly from our users who bring their old items to us.

 Who are your target customers?

I would say that in the medium to long term, our customers are all fashion consumers (men and women) in China.  We carry a complete range of fashion items and believe that just about anyone can find styles that are to their taste at Pawnstar.  At present, most of our customers are mostly ladies in their 20s and 30s and 40s living in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities throughout China.

Obviously, they have to be open to shopping secondhand, which was not traditionally deemed acceptable by Chinese customers. But, I believe that our customers tend to have a comparatively evolved sense of style and taste than most people. 

This group of customers is ever expanding as more and more people travel and also start to experience the feeling of having way too much in their wardrobe.  Many people also do not want to repeat the same outfits and this leads them to consign their old items with us and buy new ones.

How does your business affect your customers? ( do you think they are now more aware of their carbon footprint and the effects of making healthy life choices?  Is it a long or slow process?

We try not to make reducing the carbon footprint or sustainability too big a part of our marketing. We believe that, in the end, most people respond best to feeling they got a good deal, finding styles they want to wear and having a good time shopping.  While we would like to build up more Eco-awareness, we believe that emphasizing that side of things does not necessarily work as a marketing strategy.  Of course, this might change over time, but we believe that people will shop because they want good value and to look good.

Has your work created any extra insights or changed your perspective at work?

I find new inspiration every day from the day from the work I do and my perspectives on managing people, marketing and developing a business are always evolving.  Among other things, I've learned the value of creating a vibrant and happy team in which everyone feels involved and positive.  

Does your choice to up-cycle/promote green initiatives stay as only a work mission or does it integrate into your everyday life? (Ex: social circles, places you go to in your free time, your lifestyle)

 On a day to day basis, I try to re-use packaging and use air conditioning and heating sparingly. Overall, I try to be an Eco-friendly as I possibly can without sacrificing too much comfort or efficiency. For example, I try to live in locations where it is possible to bike or walk on most days so I don't need to take taxis or own a car. I also don't travel by plane unless it really can't be avoided. I take the train if possible. As I'm sure you are aware, the carbon emissions from air travel are at times (depending on conditions) even worse than driving.

I believe we can get just as much inspiration from our daily lives, work and meeting new people as we can from traveling to far-off places so I travel often.

Is there anything that you would like to say?  Would you like to provide a statement?

I believe China is in a moment where there are countless opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to create something that has an Eco-dimension to it, and I hope more and more people, young and old, go in this direction rather than simply accepting the way things are being done and only seek profit or creation of new content simply for its own sake without it having social value.


8 Ways Travel Changes How You Think


8 Ways Travel Changes How You Think

For many, home becomes comfortable. The same faces, places, and things to do. Leaving your childhood bubble for an overseas adventure can be a great way to break free!An opportunity to see new cultures, food, and entertainment that the world offers.

How can travel change the way you think?

I can tell you! I am an international student in the US studying finance that has left a tight knit community to travel abroad.

1. We now live in a global village:

Traveling teaches that cultures everywhere are beginning to get very intertwined. Not only is there a stroke of foreign influence in your hometown, but it is everywhere else that you may travel! You will hear music from your home country being mixed into music where you are traveling, food blended for local pallets that originated halfway across the world, and languages using colloquiums that you may have thought were your own. And with mom and dad only a free Skype call away, you won’t feel thousands of miles from home. The world is getting smaller, and traveling helps you to understand that.

Travel or Intern in China to experience a fusion of culture

Travel or Intern in China to experience a fusion of culture

2. There is more to this extraordinary world than the bubble you grew up in:

As we can all agree, home is comfortable. We know everyone, our family is there, our high school crush is there, and we know exactly where to go for a late-night bite.  But staying in your bubble also severely limits your worldview and ideas for what is possible with your life and career.

Traveling abroad and seeing new cultures, the people, and the industry helps you to realize that there is a world of opportunity awaiting you. When you start to see some of the architectural, engineering, artistic and infrastructural wonders that the world has to offer, your mind can’t help but begin to dream of big things. Get out of your little bubble, unleash your mind and allow it to dream!

3. It is OK to try new things:

We will start slowly with this one, just try the food! In every traveling experience the food is usually the first and most obvious separator of cultures. Seeing the variety of spices, meats, vegetables, and fruits can be an awe-inspiring experience for some (let’s hear it for our fellow foodies!) and a nerve-racking challenge for others.

For those of us that prefer the tastes of home,  food can be a good first step into understanding the cultures that are available. You’re going to have to eat eventually on that trip, right? But don’t get trapped into buying the generic international fast food that is available at most places in this global village, try the local offerings, learn that other people have different cultures and tastes, and who knows? It may even make you an international friend or two!

 4. You can handle being independent!

Traveling while you’re a student allows you a special variety of independence. Your free to make your own dining decisions, explore wherever you want, and practically do anything your little heart desires. While traveling, you can blend into the local culture as much as you please, unencumbered by the societal norms of your hometown. You can mix and learn from new cultures and people that may not have been available before. You will quickly learn that for some, everyday life is drastically different than what you are used to. Celebrations are different, customs are different and even acceptable personal space is different! Learning to accept new cultures and norms grows your independence and personality. It helps you become confident in who you are separate from peer groups and family. Travel helps you be comfortable with you because you will see that everyone is different!

 5. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone can be freeing:

Only on international trips do you get to parade around the city in costume, run with the bulls, participate in a huge tomato fight, or dress up as a gorilla without worrying about what others think of you. Traveling allows you to act in ways you never thought normal. Without old friends and relatives around, you can test the limits of your comfort zone, learning that change is not as scary as people make it out to be! It may even inspire you to try that new class, sport, or partner for a date when you get back to school!

6. Travel teaches you to cope with stress:

Being away from your comfort zone, on your own in a foreign country can sometimes be extraordinarily stressful! Missing flights, loosing travel documents and language barriers can sometimes be huge stressors! Being able to handle these situations, and enjoy the new experiences at the same time teaches you how to cope with stress in everyday situations. Loosing that passport and having to spend a few extra days in a hostel may sound like a horror story, but if you can handle that you can certainly handle those exams. If you can enjoy your experiences abroad despite seemingly monumental challenges, getting through stressors at home will be far less of a challenge!

7. Traveling makes you more accepting:

Seeing different parts of the world, trying new foods, learning new cultures, and embracing differences in new countries teaches us that everyone is unique. It teaches to be accepting of those at home and school that we formally marginalized because of their differences. Often, travel puts us in positions where we are the minority in another country; linguistically, racially, and culturally. Learning to embrace our own differences while traveling makes accepting and welcoming different people far easier when we get back home.

8. Traveling makes you more interesting:

Traveling gives you new insights into the world around you, it gives you new things to talk about and new experiences to share. We all get tired of hearing the same old gossip from our school and hometown and traveling opens whole new conversations and opportunities for relationships when you return. Being able to relate to others who are from the country you have traveled to and being able to relate to those who have had similar experiences makes branching out to new social groups far easier. That cute guy or girl in your class may even be from the country that you just visited, and with your new experience, that ice breaker is going to be allot easier!