Generation Z

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/7 18:28:39

China’s post-95s generation of university graduates are not quite ready to become adults

In less than a month, China's post-95s generation - referred to as Generation Z - will graduate from university. Growing up with widespread Internet access and a very comfortable standard of living, how are their views of employment being shaped in the age of social media? What expectations do they hold for the future? The Global Times interviewed some Gen-Z students who are about to graduate to find out.

China's post-95s generation - referred to as Generation Z - will graduate from university in less than a month.

A recent survey of 93,420 graduating Chinese students conducted by, a recruitment website, shows that about 10 percent of respondents prefer to take a gap year instead of going directly into the job market.

Failing to secure an ideal career, searching for more opportunities instead of being tied down with a job they don't like and preparing for further studies or starting up their own business are the three main reasons for graduates to take a gap year, the survey showed.

Zhou Xinyu is a senior at Shanghai University of Sport. She has decided to take a gap year to make up for her lack of planning about her future.

"For many students, once you enter college you enter a heaven where there is no homework, no exams and no parental control. Most students play their way through the first two years. In our junior and senior years, facing graduation they follow the mainstream by taking the national postgraduate entrance examination or looking for a job, without knowing what they truly want," she said.

Zhou also took part in the national postgraduate entrance examination, but failed due to her lack of preparation. While many of her peers have already signed contract with employers or received offers from overseas universities, Zhou remains unclear about her future.

She was offered a job to work at an experiential learning center for children, where she would have to repeat the same tour to visiting children seven times a day, but turned it down.

"I realized I would personally get nothing out of that job. I don't want to waste my youth on things I don't like," she said.

Instead, she will use her gap year to gather experience in the news industry and improve her English skills to apply for a postgraduate program in journalism in the UK.

Searching for meaning

From a conservative perspective, taking a gap year means falling at least one year behind one's peers. But Zhou sees it another way.

"I'll be a year older but also a year smarter. I care more about the stuff I learn than the loss of time. Me and my peers are both gaining experience, but in different ways," she added.

Searching for meaning and craving connections with the outside world are also popular reasons to take a gap year.

Liu Runyu from Fudan University decided to take a gap year to take part in a voluntary teaching program at the university, in which graduating students selected by the program would spend one year teaching in remote areas such as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Guizhou Province before resuming their postgraduate studies.

Growing up in the mountainous areas of West China herself, Liu wished to give back to society, take a break from campus life and dedicate her thoughts to things that she previously did not have time for.

"I have had doubts, because I will miss the job-hunting season and the national postgraduate entrance examination if I drop out. But it doesn't take much for me to realize that nothing can hold me back from what I truly intend to do," Liu told the Global Times.

A majority of the graduates will begin working right after graduation, accounting for over 70 percent.

Acting cute, dressing smart and opting for flexibility and freedom are the most common descriptions of the Generation Z by local marketplace employers.

A graduating student from East China University of Science and Technology surnamed Yin told the Global Times she admitted to living up to these descriptors.

"Personally, I prefer jobs that allow more flexibility. Stable yet repetitive work is just too boring for me. I would prefer to have more challenging tasks and spend each working day to my fullest," Yin said.

Acting cute, dressing smart and opting for flexibility and freedom are the most common descriptions of the Generation Z by local marketplace employers. Photos: CFP

Golden jobs

In terms of freedom, Yin said she preferred jobs with a flexible schedule in which she can decide her free time after finishing her work; jobs with simple interpersonal relationships instead of a heavy, bureaucratic system.

Based on these factors, she said she would probably prefer a foreign company instead of a Chinese State-owned enterprise or government agency, though the latter was once seen by previous generations as a "golden job."

Zhou agreed, saying that the view on employment among post-95s grads differs greatly from that of their parents, who were born in the late 1960s.

"Our parents want us to be civil servants or teachers, and to get married by 27. However we don't desire that kind of fixed life path."

Growing up in an environment of Japanese anime, computer games, smartphones and social media, many post-95s show a natural preference to work in the online world.

Their ideal emerging jobs include live-streaming, voice-acting, online writing, game tester or cosplayer, a survey from 2016 showed.

However, many post-95s graduates interviewed said that they would only do such jobs as a pastime, and eventually find a formal job once the novelty wore off.

A graduate student surnamed Huang from Shanghai University of Sport tried her hand at live-broadcasting in her junior year.

For one month, she sang and chatted with her online audience, which gained her 2,000 subscribers and 3,000 yuan ($440.10).

Ling Ling, a graduate student from Shanghai University, said for a time she craved to be a voice actor because she had a crush on some Japanese anime characters, but now this idea has been replaced by her new interest in writing fanfiction for characters of the Marvel comic book universe.

"One day we may end up like the previous generations and settle down with a stable job, but right now I have so many things to do on my checklist and we are still very young," she told the Global Times.


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