BA (Hons) Chinese Studies
Current Job: Academic Housemaster
Current employer: Westudy International Education (UK) Ltd
What is your current job and what does it involve?
• Living with and supporting a group of four sixth form students from Mainland China
• Teaching English as a Second Language to those students.
• Running a Mandarin club in our partner school, Austin Friars in Carlisle.
Do you use the knowledge and skills you gained from your studies in your job?
Absolutely. In addition to the language skills gained, I have used my understanding of Chinese culture, their education system and their economy in order to understand and relate to the students in my care. Presentation skills developed through classes as SEAS mean I am now comfortable getting up in front of a class and delivering a lesson.
Do your language skills play an important role in your job?
100%. If one of my students doesn’t understand what is being said in English, then I can use my Chinese skills to confirm they’ve understood. Also being able to speak Chinese means I can keep up with the gossip at the dinner table of an evening – always a good skill to have!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Having all four of my students achieve offers for Russell Group universities in the UK – it is testament to their hard work and the support they have access to here.
Why did you choose to study Chinese Studies at Sheffield?
The course was contemporary and caught my attention. When I came to visit Sheffield and meet the department, I felt instantly at home. It really was the tight-knit nature of the department that sealed the deal for me – I wouldn’t want to have studied anywhere else.
What are your favourite memories of studying at Sheffield?
My favourite memories of studying at Sheffield are our Chinese classes (small groups meant it felt like a little family group), working on my dissertation with some of the top researchers in their fields (bet you don’t hear that one often!) and of course, pies at the Nottingham House pub.
How did the University/department support you in achieving your career goals?
Mainly by helping me to develop the confidence to go out and try as many new things as possible. I went from a slightly timid first year to a confident graduate who was able to go to a new city and try out teaching and looking after young adults. The Careers Service and Sarah Kettlewell, our department’s liaison in the career service, provided invaluable advice. The department’s teaching staff were also super supportive in helping me develop the skills needed to enter the workplace and make a positive difference.
Do you have any tips and advice for students wishing to go down a similar career path to you?
Two tips from me! One is do go out and make the most of the opportunities out there for you – through Chinese Studies I have gone out and visited parts of China I didn’t know existed, made some lifelong friends, achieved functional use of Mandarin and even got the chance to be Santa Claus at a department store in Nanjing over Christmas!
The second is get yourself out there and try and meet as many people as possible. Engage in events with the department, university, Confucius Institute, degree related groups (such as the Chopsticks Club or Association for Speakers of Chinese as a Second Language) and more. I only got my job through a recommendation from someone I had met at a networking event – not only are these events interesting to go to (and you might get free drinks) but also you get to make meaningful connections with peers in your field.