Monday, January 19, 2015

Student Q&A: Stephanie, of China, Works in Marketing in NYC

Stephanie is a 24-year-old international student from Hubei, a province in central China known as the “Land of Fish and Rice.” She is passionate about marketing and digital media. After getting her master’s degree in marketing from the University of Denver, she moved to New York City in the summer of 2014 to pursue her professional dreams. She is now working at an advertising company in downtown Manhattan. On a sunny winter afternoon, WES Student Advisor sat down with Stephanie to talk about her journey from Hubei to Denver to New York.

WES Student Advisor: Can you talk us through your graduate school application process?

Stephanie: Like other international students who apply to graduate school in the U.S., I first took TOEFL and GMAT, and then I started looking at different programs. I was attracted to the marketing program at University of Denver because it has an internship component. I think that when you’re studying abroad, you need some real-world experience because marketing is a very practical field. Internships will help me gain practical knowledge and teach me a lot of practical skills before entering the job market. That’s why I chose to study marketing at University of Denver. Plus, I really like the campus, it’s very beautiful.

What inspired you to become a marketer?

When I was young, I knew that I wanted to have a job that would allow me to travel a lot, to work in a very creative environment. Marketing is not only about creativity; it is also about making strategies. You have to have a very solid ground to understand consumer trends and analyze data. It’s not like one day you wake up and suddenly you have a brilliant marketing idea. You have to do a lot of research to truly understand your clients and your consumers. You also need to understand local culture in order to deliver products that are appealing to the customers.

Were there any challenges when you got here?

I think language is the biggest challenge because we only learned “textbook” English in China. But when you study here, you have to communicate with a lot of people in English on a regular basis. Often it’s not just about the language itself; it involves a lot about culture, social ties and other stuff. I realized how important it is to go out and to reach out to people around me – it is called “networking” here. I found networking challenging because as a Chinese student, I was shy and I didn’t know how to approach people. But here, in America, in this business world, networking is very important. It’s all about the networks you have. Therefore you need to know how to approach different people, how to start a conversation, how to impress people and how to make meaningful connections.

Did you have a plan when you graduated?

Actually, I didn’t have a plan at that time. When I graduated, I felt a little bit lost. In the previous years, you were always a student and you had a clear goal that you wanted to advance your studies. But this phase is over; you are now entering into a new world. No one is going to tell you what to do next, you have to define your own goal in life. I think it’s common for young people to feel overwhelmed and lost sometimes. When I was about to graduate, I had three options: going back to China, staying in Denver or moving to another city in the U.S. I decided to come to New York because it’s a very diverse city. I always believe that when we are young, we need to experience the world and broaden our horizons. Only in this way can we truly reach our potentials. Someday when you look back, you will be so proud of yourself – you can tell people what a fulfilling life you’ve had! You will have no regrets.

Can you talk about finding a job in such a competitive city like New York?

Again, networking is extremely important. Before moving to New York, I met with my professor to discuss what I should do after graduation. He connected me with his friend in New York, and this friend happened to know the manager of my current company. That’s how I knew about this opportunity. Before I got this job, I also applied for other positions online and it was very hard to get an interview. I applied for a job online, but after a month, I didn’t hear anything. So I called the company and was told that the position was filled. Disappointed as I was, I still didn’t want to give up. I expressed my interest in visiting the company to get a better sense of what they do. To my surprise, I was invited to their cocktail party the following week. It turned out to be an observation party for the company to select future employees. All the qualified candidates were invited to participate in a case competition. I guess I impressed them with my ideas and enthusiasm, so after another interview, they brought me on board.

Tell us about some fun experiences you’ve had during your time in the U.S.

After graduation, I drove alone from Denver to New York. I spent five nights, six days on the road. It’s something I always dreamed of in the past but never dared to do it. I wanted to spend some time alone to think about things. I planned out the entire trip before hitting the road, so I knew what kind of risks I should be aware of. Then I just did it, and it felt great! When you are young, you need to have this kind of experience. I realized that it wasn’t as difficult as I first imagined. It was an adventure for me. I went to Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee… a lot of states. It was such a good opportunity to see the middle of America. When I was in Denver, just like other international students, I travelled to some tourist attractions in the country; but I don’t think many people actually know much about the life in places like Kansas or Tennessee. On my road trip, I learned a lot about this country. Now I have more to talk about with Americans. I see America in a different way now. You think everywhere in America is prosperous – it’s all about Denver or New York; but no, it’s actually not that way. It’s such a diverse country.

Have you met any interesting people on the road?

Yes, I went to Nashville, Tennessee, the city of country music. There’s a street called Broadway, you can find so many bars there and they have live country music. I remember one night, when I was walking down the street, I met a street performer. We started chatting and I asked him a lot of questions, like “Why did you start this career?” I got to know about his interesting life stories. I just enjoy talking to different people to get to know them. I’m very curious about people.

Thanks for sharing your fantastic journey with us! What advice would you give to other international students?

I guess for me, staying active and learning new things about this country is important. You have to find your priority in life: Where do you want to go? Because it’s so easy to get lost when you’re exposed to so many things at once. If you have a goal in mind, you won’t get confused by other distractions.

1 comment:

  1. In this post I found a lot of new ideas and things about different things. Especially the Stephanie's story is really interesting and impressive. I am not from China but I have been visited many times in my life. Last time I have been there after my nyc to durham bus trip about few months ago. I found Chinese people very hardworking and friendly.


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