Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

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Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby grandcanyonhiker » 16 Jun 2012, 23:55

I am wondering if anybody out there could help me with a career dilemma.

I lived in taiwan for 5 years total. For two years i studied chinese and for 3 years i worked part time as a international sales assistant for a small taiwanese company. There i did translation/interpretting, sale and office related tasks. Participated in 4 international trade fairs. My spoken chinese would be considered fluent but far from native speaker abilities. And I am married to a taiwanese and have been in and out of Taiwan for the last 12 years. So I have a deeper cultural connection.

Now I am trying to re-establish myself in the USA and I am not able to see any niche or advantage that can get me a job. And I only have a social sciences BA. For any language related tasks, hiring a native Mandarin speaker or ABC is much more desirable. Is there any special niche in the USA job market that could utilize my experience in Taiwan? Or do you know of anybody facing a similar difficulty?

Part of the problem is location. I am currently living in a smaller midwest city. A good friend of mine lives in Seattle. Would it help if i relocated?
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Re: Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby ironlady » 17 Jun 2012, 01:38

The biggest opportunity for Mandarin speakers in the US right now is teaching. Get your teaching certificate and you can teach Chinese. You don't even need to be that good at Chinese to do it. I know a few people teaching Mandarin whose Mandarin is practically cringe-worthy, but still they are certified and there are jobs EVERYWHERE...

...if you can re-locate out of a small town.

I have the same problem. There is simply no Mandarin-related opportunity where I have to live in the States, and I can't relocate. :(

As for your employability in non-teaching jobs, you've already figured it out. Why would anyone hire a person with "okay" Mandarin and no real skills, when they can hire a person with an MBA/MA/MS in whatever and perfect Mandarin (ABCs with both languages)? It's difficult to compete, and there is no value placed on perfect English in the States (assuming yours is -- I'm optimistically assuming your failure to capitalize and your misspelling of "caucasian" is Internet-forum related and no something that would happen on a job application.)
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Re: Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby grandcanyonhiker » 17 Jun 2012, 06:32

Thanks Ironlady.

The teaching route is something i considered a while ago. In the few job postings I saw, they wanted native Mandarin speakers. I should call the WI state DPI to ask again about getting certified to teach Mandarin. The person i talked to previously was not clear on how i should proceed. Certification requirements will probably be different for every state. A lot of teachers in my state were layed off due to budget cuts.

After many years cramming chinese into my head, my english did get a little rusty.

I am disappointed as I'd like to do something similar to what I was doing in Taiwan. I learned so much and participated in different aspects of the business. Now I am even having difficulty getting into an entry level office administrative job.

Can i ask what state you are in? Are you still doing translations and interpretting?
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Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby headhonchoII » 17 Jun 2012, 07:24

Your problem seems to be location , you will need to move to a bigger city or where the jobs are. In the west they place people more into niches and everything is more clearcut, so if you want to do sales show sales manager on your experience, product manager or marketing manager the same etc etc.
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Re: Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby housecat » 17 Jun 2012, 08:44

I was asked in a couple of interviews (I'm a teacher and was interviewing for teaching jobs in AR) if I could teach Mandarin. I always declined as I don't feel my Mandarin is anywhere near good enough for that. Afterdeclining one of the offers (the interview was supposed to be for a position teaching ENGLISH in the first place) the principal told me that he'd asked to interview me because he thought he might get an English teacher who could also teach Mandarin--so was I SURE. Then he told me about a program through which he could just hire a native speaker from China, but it was going to cost him more.

And that's the real problem. There are programs that send native speaking Chinese teachers to the States. I've even met one guy, an ABC, who speaks, reads, and writes both English and Mandarin fluently who told me he was turned down for a position teaching Mandarin because he grew up in the States and so they didn't consider him a native speaker!

Teaching is a tough business these days.

As you have the trading skills, and the language skills, I'd think you should be marketing yourself to smaller businesses who might have some interest in trading with China. Do you research. There may be business out there who could get a lot out of having a relationship with a Chinese manufacturer, but don't realize this. You target them, then show them how you an help them access this new resourse or market. You could work for several businesses just as a sourcing agent to help find cheaper product or production from producers in China. You could provide quality control services for some larger company who might send you to China to check out product in the factory where you could communicate how to make it more to specification, or approve it, or whatever.

That's my idea, anyway. And a smaller midwest area might be a good place for this--you just have to figure out how to convince them that they need you because you can save them money in this way, or someting.
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Re: Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby redandy » 20 Jul 2012, 01:25

I spend quite a bit of time on NY and DC job boards and see quite a bit in the legal field. I would imagine other cities that have a discernible Chinese population would have similar needs (Chicago, Houston, Dallas, any big West Coast city, among others) Obviously you aren't an attorney, but paralegal jobs might be available without too much additional training.

Also, I once worked for an editorial services firm, and we were always looking for freelance editors with the more common foreign languages. Granted, that was in a place where there was a lot of international publishing (World Bank, etc) going on.
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Re: Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby fh2000 » 20 Jul 2012, 07:14

In LA, Chinese radio stations sometimes invite Americans who speak fluent Chinese to talk about things that new immigrants should pay attention to. Some of them speak really good Chinese. I am not sure if they get paid. I would assume that they do.

Also, years ago I was interviewing software developers. One guy's resume caught my eyes so I invited him. He is a Mormon and spent 2 years in Taiwan. You know, those young men wearing white shirts riding bicycles spreading their gospel. I did not end up hiring him though. His C++ isn't that good. But we had a good talk in Chinese.
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Re: Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby swervetech69 » 13 Sep 2012, 11:20

I will disagree with some here. Im in a similar situation and background as you and recently came back to Toronto. Mandarin can help you in sales and marketing, international trade but you have to sell it. I now work for a Chinese engineering firm here and wont speak a word of Chinese in my career but I did in the interview and I talked smart about my business experiences in Taiwan. After finishing a graduate business program here I has 3 job offers and speaking Chinese helped for 2 of them. Don't believe its impossible finding a job once you get back either, teaching Chinese will get you a fairly pathetic salary but im no expert, do something in business.
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Re: Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby Charlie Phillips » 13 Sep 2012, 11:51

grandcanyonhiker wrote:Now I am trying to re-establish myself in the USA and I am not able to see any niche or advantage that can get me a job. And I only have a social sciences BA. For any language related tasks, hiring a native Mandarin speaker or ABC is much more desirable. Is there any special niche in the USA job market that could utilize my experience in Taiwan? Or do you know of anybody facing a similar difficulty?

Part of the problem is location. I am currently living in a smaller midwest city. A good friend of mine lives in Seattle. Would it help if i relocated?


I assume you like hiking and know the Grand Canyon....?

How about tourism related?
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Re: Seeking job niche for fluent Chinese speaking caucasion in USA

Postby headhonchoII » 13 Sep 2012, 11:59

Tourism, that's definitely a great idea in terms of using Chinese.
I can remember the fourth of July runnin' through the backwood bare.
And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin' chasin' down a hoodoo there
Chasin' down a hoodoo there.
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