Generation Z, the “younger sibling” to today’s infamous Millennial generation, is either in college or about to begin.
However, as this next round of workers begins to enter the workforce, it’s important to understand what they are looking for, from a career perspective. According to CNBC, 75% of Gen Z-ers feel strongly that their work should have greater meaning than simply earning a good living.
What they want out of a job is fulfillment, but also personal empowerment and a belief that what they’re doing actually matters. Similar to the Millennial generation, Gen Z wants more than just ping-pong tables and baristas in their future work spaces. Those things are nice, but what they’re looking for is a challenging, mentally stimulating, and personally satisfying work environment.
What’s even more interesting, however, is that this study cites more than half of Gen Z-ers looking to create their own job description. They are an independent generation, and see their future career as something they can forge on their own—not necessarily a pre-scripted role they should fit themselves within.
This, more than anything, shows something very important about Gen Z: they are inherently interested in creativity and innovation. There is more out there than just Silicon Valley.
Especially if you are a top student in the U.S., you may consider studying abroad if you are interested in what’s happening creatively on a global scale. U.S. hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, even Chicago, all have incredible schools, resources and emerging opportunities for young students. But they are not the only options out there. It can be easy to get caught up trying to get accepted to your “dream school” in the U.S., not realizing the opportunities in other countries — the “best kept secret” being Shenzhen, China.
“Silicon Valley is a great place to be, but a lot of entrepreneurs from the Valley are moving to Shenzhen,” says Jan Smejkal, APAC Community Director for the entrepreneurship-focused community organization Startup Grind, citing one of the primary reasons Shenzhen is so attractive for entrepreneurs. “You can launch a hardware startup here in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost it would take working from the U.S.”
Here are 5 reasons you should consider studying abroad in China:
1. Shenzhen Is Evolving From A Dirty Factory Town Into A Leading Innovation Hub
One of the most valuable experiences, in just about any industry, is to be part of something from the beginning.
Unlike other far more established hubs around the world, Shenzhen is just getting started — and moving fast. As a student, to witness rampant creative growth first-hand is an experience unlike any other. It would be reminiscent of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley in the mid 1990s, riding the wave of the first tech bubble.
In addition, this report states that “more money is being invested in research and development in Shenzhen than anywhere else in China.” In terms of opportunities, that is absolutely worth noting if you are a student weighing your options.
2. Business Growth In Shenzhen Is Booming
Did you know that Shenzhen (nicknamed the “Silicon Valley” of China) built 11 new towers in 2016? That’s more skyscrapers in the past year than the US and Australia combined. The city in Southern China is populated by roughly seven million people.
As a student, and especially when you’re choosing where to study, you want to pay attention to the location as much as you do the school. If you choose a great school in the middle of a burdened city, you will feel the negative effects — lack of opportunity being the primary. Similarly, if you choose a school in an area that is growing at a rapid rate, you will have more options to choose from.
3. Universities Prepare You Well For Global Economics
If you think universities in the US are good, then you haven’t done your research on what schools in Shenzhen have to offer.
Peking University, nicknamed the “Harvard of China,” and especially the Peking University HSBC Business School in Shenzhen, is well established in China’s hot startup scene — and for those wondering, they have a strong interest in attracting western students and nurturing their abroad studies.
A former student at Peking University HSBC Business School , Kristaps Ronis, is a founding member and executive at Ion Pacific — an investment bank.
Of his experience at the university, he said, “Aside from being one of the top 30 universities globally, PKU presents an exceptional opportunity to be immersed into Asian culture and learn more about the region that is emerging as the economic and financial powerhouse of the world. PKU is an exceptional choice for young and talented professionals looking to establish or transfer their careers to Asia.”
Professor Wen Hai, Dean of Peking University HSBC Business School in Shenzhen added, “Young people are influencing the business world more than anything else today. Many of our students have been successful after graduating from Peking University HSBC Business School.”
“Several of our international students have already had great success starting their own companies within mainland China and Hong Kong, in diverse fields including consulting, investment banking, mobile platforms, product sourcing, logistics and marketing. These entrepreneurs are in a unique position to influence the next generation,” he explained.
4. Studying Abroad Will Widen Your Perspective On The World’s Most Pressing Issues
Ask anyone what the biggest benefit of traveling is, and they’ll say, “It makes you realize you don’t live in a bubble.”
When you study abroad, this is magnified ten times. Visiting another country is one thing, but living in another country is entirely different. You become so much more exposed to their culture, their habits, the nuances of their interpersonal relationships, and even more so, how they perceive and interact with the rest of the world.
Gen Z is already a very open-minded generation. Studying abroad will not only expand this viewpoint, but nurture it in a positive way.
5. You Will Be Better Prepared For Entrepreneurship, Regardless Of Where You Go After College
Since Gen Z is so entrepreneurial, it’s worth questioning what sort of experience will teach the most valuable lessons (in the shortest amount of time).
Something that people forget when it comes to studying abroad is the learning process that happens when you are so far outside your comfort zone. If you’ve never lived outside the country (or even your own city), then you need to know that it’s shocking what that sort of adjustment does to you as a person. It forces a level of maturity that is recognizable whenever you meet someone who has lived in another country.
“Everything here is on hyperspeed,” says Josh Steimle, CEO of MWI, a U.S.-based digital marketing agency that recently opened an office in Shenzhen, helping Chinese companies enter western markets.
“I’ve done business in startup hubs like Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Singapore and Hong Kong, but I’ve never seen anything like the activity in Shenzhen. There’s no complacency — no matter what kind of business you have, there’s someone in Shenzhen who is working hard to beat you. I haven’t even lived here a year, but I’ve learned so much I feel like I’ve lived here for four.”
Entrepreneurship, especially, is something that is difficult to teach in a classroom. Sure, you can learn the basics of business, or the ins and outs of innovation best practices, but there are very few ways to simulate the feeling entrepreneurship demands — which is being outside your comfort zone.
Especially if you have an interest in entrepreneurship, it’s worth considering studying in another country if you want to learn that “sink or swim” mentality, faster. It will prepare you well for the long run.