Prosper, our former IMBA student at NCCU recently returned to our university on his annual visit back to Taiwan to share his personal story with us. The Burkinabé is part of the 2009 IMBA graduate program batch and had graduated in the year 2011. We met him yesterday for an interview regarding his experience working for a Taiwanese company, while he had a reunion with some of the program’s staff in the building of commerce on campus.
In fact, his journey started with a simple internship recommended to him by a friend during his 4th semester in the IMBA program. At the time of the internship, his work was primarily concerned with translations from French to English. Yet, his boss having noticed his potential and capabilities, hired him right after Prosper’s graduation and allocated a new position and tasks to him. Prosper mentioned that doing the internship (although focusing on the translation part) had provided him with the opportunity to get to know the other areas in which the company was active. As it turned out, they were eager to approach the African market, in which they did not have a strong presence yet. Thus, Prosper seemed to be the right man for the job, given his thorough knowledge of the western Africa region.
Equipped with his expertise on his home country and the region, Prosper got dispatched back to Burkina Faso around 4 years ago. Extensive knowledge on the customs, etiquettes and the market of your home country thus represents one of the main advantages that international students may have over their local competitors. Hence, international students should definitely take companies into consideration that are operating back home or that target familiar foreign markets. Apart from that, it is highly recommended that international students learn Chinese in order to improve their employability.
That is not to say that you have to be fluent in Chinese. A basic command of the language will usually be sufficient and ensures that your future boss is impressed about your efforts to integrate yourself into Taiwanese culture. After all, a main component of whether or not you are getting hired by the company is always the personal impression the interviewer obtains of you. Prosper also mentioned that expanding your local circle of friends in Taiwan represents a useful source of information regarding working opportunities. That is, most certainly locals know best when it comes to open positions available.
After having been hired, it is quite natural to experience a few differences between how things are being done in Taiwan and your home country. Our interviewee; for instance, brought up that the work pace in Taiwan tends to be extremely quick and efficient. That is, newly made decisions will be implemented the very second they have been made and no assignment is postponed. When comparing this with his working experience in Burkina Faso, Prosper pointed out that “in Africa we do have time, and we take our time”.
Though the working style may be different, it is important not to distance yourself from your colleagues or to see yourself as different from the rest. Instead, be open, humble, and be willing to listen and learn from your co-workers. In fact, according to Prosper’s experience, Taiwanese people are ready to help and teach you with great patience and passion as long as you are willing to listen.
By now, Prosper has been working for a Taiwanese company that certifies electronics for different markets for more than 4 years. Yet, despite working and travelling mostly within the rising and continuously developing African continent, he never lost his connection to Taiwan and the people in the Taipei headquarter.
Prosper highlighted that it is the personal relationship that matters. That is, since some of the companies will actually send you back to your home country to work there relatively independently, your employer has to trust you thoroughly. Thus, he recommends to try to find a job in Taiwan while you are still on the island, instead of when having returned to your home country. This is based on the notion that the picture that the interviewer may develops of you after a face-to-face interaction and the level of trust being generated tends to be a lot more positive and higher than the one you can create by sending out your résumé via email.
Lastly, Prosper raised the notion that every international student that seeks employment in Taiwan should ask themselves why the company should hire them specifically? What makes you special and valuable for the company? Once, you have an answer to this question, go on and draw on those characteristics and ultimately excel.
Interviewer/Author: Frank Chang/Christian Schoppmeyer