1. Please introduce yourself (student year, major, the location of your current work, etc.)
I was in UIC from 2009 to the spring of 2014 and I majored in economics (class of 9.5). I’m currently working in Shenzhen, China, but I had moved around a little bit. When I first graduated from UIC, I did an internship in Seoul. After working in Beijing, I began to work in Shenzhen starting from mid-2017. Currently, I am working in Tencent as the Global Business Manager of Tencent WeStart, which belongs to Tencent Open Platform. The work is hard to explain because it combines a lot of different things. We have departments that conduct different businesses as we have 32 innovation spaces across China. We have some MBA programs with Shinhwa University and another MBA program in China. Indeed, it is more like an MBA program for the tech-related funders.
My team just started early this year. It is related to internationalization because Tencent WeStart started in 2014 and within just three years, we have more than 30 incubators in China. We have not had a lot of extrapolation in the global scale, which is the reason why we have this team that try to build more bridges between China and international entrepreneurial communities in various other areas.
2. What projects or tasks are performed in a typical week of your job?
I would say it is constantly changing because Tencent is an internet company with a lot of changes happening in a year. In July, we did the Tencent WeStart Entrepreneurial Competition in the United States, during which we conducted an AI related entrepreneurial competition and managed to attract more than 100 startups to compete—including top startups from Harvard, MIT, and other universities. We also had different tracts, including one about artificial intelligence and another about content. From August to October, we visited our potential content related partners. We went to survey the top content companies so that we can work cooperatively with some companies that may suit China. We also travel to Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong; talk to the potential business partners; and conduct some research about the business opportunities. During the last two months, we worked on creating an official international website for Tencent WeStart.
We have a different focus for every project. For example, a project related to AI competition is more associated with branding, marketing, and PR. However, when we have a project regarding content, it becomes more closely related to business development and research because you have to look up who will be your partner, look for contacts and build up relationships in order to move on to the next stage. If it is about the official international website, you need to understand different kinds of business, allocate your emphasis, and decide what you can make out of the website. It is really fun and challenging. And the reason why we do content is so that we can better follow the trend.
3. Why did you choose the career that you are currently in?
Honestly, I didn’t expect I would work in the tech industry. I still remember how I considered my passion to lie in working for a nonprofit organization or an international organization in general. In fact, my first internship was at a non-profit foundation during which I felt as if this work was a mission from the bottom of my heart. But I realized that if I am just a fresh graduate, getting a good position in these fields would be hard as I lack the necessary training. So I just decided to do spend my free time as a volunteer of such organizations as supposed to a full-time worker. I then thought maybe I could postpone working for these causes, which motivated me to look around and find many internship opportunities within UIC.
I remember a trip to Singapore during the Global Career Tour. We visited several companies in varied industries such as P&G, UBS, and Facebook. My visit to Facebook taught me a lot. When I saw the people working there being not only friendly but also passionate about what they were doing and yet they came from different backgrounds and countries. From then on, I realized that I may as well be interested in the tech industry and that I could give it a try.
After this experience, I took an internship at a company where I worked on researching about the Chinese mobile games. And I realized that there had been a lot of changes in the Chinese market. For example, people there didn’t really use smartphones when I started my college education; but later on, everyone was using a smartphone and mobile apps in China.
4. If you had to choose one essential skill that is critical in order to succeed in the workplace, what would it be?
I think being proactive is really important. I didn’t realize the value of this quality that much when I was in college though I knew it was what many professors had emphasized. Only as I was working could I realize how important it really is. In this ever-evolving world, there will be a lot of opportunities that you will want to take. In order to successfully do so, you will have to proactively think about what you need to do to prepare. You can’t expect that with all the necessary materials, you will only have to take one step after another in pre-determined manner. Instead of staying passive, you should proactively think about what is most needed at your department or the relevant industry. I think of this as a soft skill that is crucial because pretty much every UIC student will have acquired the harder skills of reading, writing, and researching—”knowledge,” in short.
5. How did your UIC experience prepare you for your career (previous internships/ school clubs at college/ study abroad programs, etc.)?
I benefitted a lot from my UIC experience. For instance, I went on a study abroad program in the Netherlands for half a year. I think this opportunity truly helped me see the other side of the world. Also, although I majored in economics, I took many courses from different departments. In terms of school clubs, I was also a part of the UIC Scribe for about two years, during which I was both a writer and a layout designer.
I think I managed to do a lot of things I had wanted to do but wasn’t sure if I really could at UIC. For example, I studied painting from a really young age, but I never thought I would design a booklet all by myself as the layout designer of the UIC Scribe. In fact, I could not only present these works when I applied for a job but also be remembered by one of my professors as the designer of particular publications.
I also had been a member of a debate club. It was really difficult and challenging for me at that time because a lot of the debaters came from a very international background and were therefore already accustomed to the debate formats and styles. And I think the experience at this debate club pushed me forward and helped me overcome the initially lack of confidence. I could develop my debate techniques not to mention critical thinking skills.
6. As one of our alumni, please give us some of your advice and/or recommendations regarding UIC student life.
Try to get as much experience as possible. For example, if you know you want to do something related to investment, you should try to take opportunities to learn about finance through the means of internship or other projects. But if you are not sure about your passion, you could take a lot of electives, join a variety of organizations, and make many friends from different areas of interests. I believe that UIC in general has a lot of programs, such as the Study Abroad Program and the Global Career Program. Through these programs, I could discover where my interests actually lied in along with other alternative paths I can pursue. The alumni talk offered by Career Development Center (CDC) is also very helpful as I ended up attending almost all the CDC talks. All in all, following your passion and finding something you are genuinely interested in, and proactively working towards your goals will take you to the place you want to be at.