It’s truly amazing to think back on my time in China. It’s hard to believe it even happened at all now that I’m back on the other side of the world in my tiny town. I know that all of the memories I made, lessons I learned, and friends I met (more like family really) will stay with me for a long time to come. My horizons are most certainly broadened in ways that I could never have anticipated. We worked hard and played hard and no one even went to the hospital or got arrested.
Big business has always struggled with ethical issues. That is the reason why many people don’t trust corporations—they think that businesses are only concerned with making money. On some level, this is true. There is no refuting it simply because it keeps happening. Time and time again, scandals emerge where big businesses are doing something they shouldn’t. But the key to being successful isn’t finding ways to take advantage of the customer; the key is to be honest and transparent in order to gain trust and a good reputation. That is the best way to ensure that your customers keep coming back. Of course this is easier said than done. Ethical issues come up extremely often and sometimes the best choice is not always clear. Navigating these dilemmas is a necessary skill in the business world.
This trip has definitely taught me the value of diverse knowledge. Even if you specialize in one thing, it is necessary to have an understanding of what is going on around you in the company. This was the most I have interacted with engineers in an educational setting so it was very interesting to share ideas and see how different people work. Some good advice I had given to me was to always have something to bring to the table, so the best way to do that is to widen my focus and learn all that I can.
I think that having a thirst for knowledge is one of the most valuable traits you can have. There is most certainly never an end to education. The perfect example is traveling. Even if the China trip wasn’t with study abroad and it was just a vacation, there is no way anyone could come away without having gained new knowledge. It is so important to constantly seek out new experiences and put yourself in situations outside of your comfort zone because I think one of the worst things you can do is become stagnant.
It is becoming more and more apparent to me as I am more exposed to the professional world just how important company culture is when choosing a company to work for. Even in our company visits, we saw the most formal environment in Huawei compared to a very casual one at VIP Kid. Being able to learn about the differences in work environments between China and America was really cool. Each country conducts business in a different way and has different norms for the social side of business. Finding what works for you personally is definitely a key to a happy career.
Having diverse backgrounds in a group can be a huge strength. It may also turn into a weakness without effective communication, though. Like I said earlier, working and learning side by side with engineers all trip was a great experience. When different members of the group have different skill sets and knowledge bases, it only pushes innovation. If everyone has the same ideas, no one is challenged and pushed to improve.
In the first pre-departure class, Dr. Li asked us to give three words to describe China. I’m not sure what I said, but nothing could have prepared me for what to expect. The country is just so different in so many ways, that it is hard to imagine if you haven’t experienced it. If I had to give three words now, I would pick these: orange vest gang.