Many students spend their four years in college dreading graduation — not that they’ll miss final exams, late-night study sessions or expensive textbooks. No, this fear stems from the idea of moving on to the real world and being unable to find a job in today’s struggling economy.
But for many international students, like Chinese native Hongkui Zhan, the notion of finding a job in their native lands has always been a certainty.
Zhan is one of about 2,200 international students enrolled at CSUN, according to the International & Exchange Student Center.
Like many of his foreign peers, Zhan came to the U.S. to receive an education he can use back home.
“There’s more of an appeal in China for students who studied abroad,” said Zhan, 26, CSUN manufacturing system engineering major.
Fortunately for Zhan the Chinese job market has a high demand for people in construction machinery or related fields, according to estimates by Credit Suisse, a global financial-services company.
Credit Suisse also lists e-commerce, life insurance and wealth management as developing industries in China.
China’s economy is the second largest in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Though it ranks just below the U.S., analysts predict China will replace the U.S. in the top spot in just 10 years, especially at the current rate of its economic growth.
The IMF also reported the job markets of other Asian nations have been flourishing in recent years.
Increased employment opportunities include engineering and manufacturing jobs in India; accounting and computer programming jobs in South Korea; and information technology (IT) jobs in Japan.
Asia’s job-market growth is a rarity in the tumultuous world economy. Employment in the continent is expected to increase 7 percent in the next year, according to a survey conducted by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
“More opportunities at home mean better chances of getting a job,” Zahn said.
Expectations for a rise in employment are not as high in other countries, but many international job markets have seen an increase in certain fields.
In Australia, employment has risen only 1.3 percent this past year, but various jobs have been in high demand, reported the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
These include positions for business analysts, project managers, business-development managers and recruitment consultants, according to Australia JobSearch, an Australian government initiative.
Students looking for work in newly industrialized countries, such as Brazil, where the economy is developing, will find openings in education, technology, manufacturing and commercial engineering, according to the country’s Applied Economic Research Institute. These positions are expected to grow into 2020.
Though Zhan plans to extend his stay in America, he said getting a job back home would have been easy with an American degree.
A U.S. degree is the primary goal of many students who choose CSUN, said Liat Tamsut, international student adviser at the International and Exchange Student Center.
“Most international students come here to for the higher education,” Tamsut said. “In many cases, the education here exceeds the education they would have received in their home country.”
A degree from an accredited U.S. institution is recognized worldwide, and international students who return home with such a degree are often sought after in the job market, according to World Education Services (WES).
Contrastingly, the U.S. job market has been struggling to elicit jobs to college grads. The class of 2011 has faced the highest unemployment rate for college graduates in U.S. history, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s not as easy to get a job now as it was in the past,” said Nancy Virts, department chair and professor of economics.
Students struggling to find a job after college should sharpen their skills based on the field they intend to join, Virts said.
“If students want to join the financial field, for example, they really need to make sure they have great math skills,” she said.
President Barack Obama’s recent job plan, the American Jobs Act, aims to create millions of jobs for the many unemployed Americans.
“The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working,” Obama said in a Sept. 8 statement.
The national unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Increasing global competitiveness is another one of the plan’s goals, and Obama said he wants America to be back on top.
Despite having the largest economy, the U.S. currently ranks as NO. 5 on this year’s Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The results of the competitiveness report are based on the business operating environment of over 130 economies worldwide. The report lists Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden and Finland in the top four positions.
But the business competitiveness of the U.S. is not what appeals to job-seekers. Many international students are drawn to the pay offered in the U.S., Zahn said.
In China, for example, hourly compensation rates for manufacturing jobs are only 4 percent of what U.S. employees make for the same labor, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers in Brazil made only 25 percent of what Americans made.
Zhan said his decision to extend his stay in America is based on the opportunity to make more money.
“I might not get hired right away, but I like the idea of getting paid more here,” he said.