What It Took Young People in China to Get Their Jobs

They knew the job market would be tough. None were prepared for just how tough it proved to be.

China’s economy is struggling through a sustained slowdown, with real estate developers mired in debt, families fearful of spending and entrepreneurs hesitating to take risks. Joblessness levels among young people have hit record highs.

We spoke to five young Chinese about what it took to find their jobs amid such uncertainty. They described moving home with their parents, exhausting their savings, taking on unpaid internships or working two jobs.

They also spoke of a generational disillusionment. Born in the headiest years of China’s economic boom, they grew up with more opportunities and more comforts than their parents — and also higher expectations. They were told that, with hard work and the right education, their futures were all but guaranteed.

Now, those boom years are fading, as are many young people’s hopes — with unpredictable consequences for China and the world.

Nadia Yang, Class of 2019

Fiona Qin, Class of 2023

Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Until recently, Fiona Qin had always had a plan. She wanted to get into a good college, then a top graduate school, then find work as a journalist at a news outlet in a big city.

She seemed well on her way in the fall of 2022, as graduation approached. While finishing her master’s program in Beijing, she completed several internships. She set a target of submitting applications to 100 jobs — surely enough, she thought, to net an offer.

Ethan Yi, Class of 2022

Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Looking back, Ethan Yi thinks he had been a little entitled, or at least naive.

Mr. Yi, who graduated in June 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in management, had always been told that a college education came with certain benefits. He wouldn’t need to toil as his parents had, working as vegetable wholesalers. He could expect good pay and respect.

Two weeks after arriving, he was hired by an agricultural chemical company, for $730 a month. He rented an apartment on the outskirts of the city and threw himself into training.

“I’ll see how things go, take it slow,” he said. “Making fast money is impossible. I see that now.”

Phoebe Liu, Class of 2022

Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

Still, Ms. Liu was rattled by how hard it was to get her first full-time job. Other traditional benchmarks of adulthood, like buying a house, felt more out of reach than ever, especially in a city as expensive as Beijing. While her father had succeeded as a businessman as China’s economy boomed, she doubted that she would be as upwardly mobile.

“Even if I work my hardest for 10 or 20 years, will I really make as much as them?” she said of her parents’ generation. “Now you can’t accomplish the same things through your own hard work.”

Tsuki Jin, Class of 2020

Qilai Shen for The New York Times

Tsuki Jin grew up in a small city in inland China, but had long wanted to experience life outside. And in April, she decided to make that dream happen — tough job market or not.

Ms. Jin, who asked to be identified by her family name and a nickname, quit the human resources job she had worked for two years and moved to Shanghai, with nothing new lined up and roughly $700 in savings.

“I think it’s not good for young people to be too comfortable,” she said. “It’s good to go out and see things.”

Ms. Jin’s path shows how some young Chinese are able to hold on to their ambitions: being willing to compromise on almost everything else.

Even with her new job, though, Ms. Jin is already thinking ahead to her next adventure. After a few years in Shanghai, she wants to try other cities.

“It’s all life experience,” she said.

This article was originally published by a www.nytimes.com . Read the Original article here. .