In November 2017, YCW London launched its inaugural Mentorship Program, hot on the heels of the successful program in Beijing. With such a large active China network in London, and so many young talents coming through the city every year, we wanted to play our part in fostering connections and creating communities in this group of people.
For our pilot, YCW partnered with three leading universities: King’s College London (KCL), London School of Economics (LSE), and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). After a competitive application round, we selected six talented young mentees from each university, and paired them with a London professional with whom they shared similar interests. Our mentors come from a wide variety of industries and backgrounds: finance, policy, journalism, government, business, technology, etc.
After an initial launch event at LSE, our first career workshop took place in January at SOAS. A number of our mentees had indicated an interest in a career in China-related policy, so we invited three of our mentors from different policy career backgrounds to speak to our mentees about their experiences, and to give advice about how best to start a career in policy.
Our speakers were Michal Meidan of Energy Aspects & Chatham House; Sue Bishop, former Consul-General in Shanghai and now Director at Department for International Trade, and YCW’s own Raffaello Pantucci of RUSI. They painted an informative picture of different ways to create a policy career – be in in the private sector, through think tanks, or in policy implementation through government. We had fascinating discussions about whether it makes sense to specialise in a policy area or to remain a generalist, the different skillsets employers look for in policy fields, and the think tank landscapes of Europe post-Brexit. Our speakers stressed the importance of digital and numeracy skills, as well as evidence of active engagement through publishing pieces or engaging in China institutions.
Though the China career landscape is getting increasingly competitive, it is safe to say it is becoming an increasingly exciting time to explore and build careers to do with China policy.