Volunteering offers students academic and career hints
Published: Oct 21, 2018 06:03 PM

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Over 5,000 university students in Shanghai have been selected as volunteers for the upcoming First China International Import Expo (CIIE) from November 5 to 10, local media recently reported.

Universities in the city including Shanghai International Studies University (SISU), Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and East China Normal University all announced through their websites or social media accounts that they encourage students to devote themselves to the event and serve exhibitors and visitors.

SISU claims to have the most volunteers for CIIE, as the school has an advantage in its foreign languages and trade majors. Fudan proudly announced that students of its reputed School of Journalism will play roles at the CIIE news center. Other universities are also promoting their respective involvement in the event.

I myself am very happy to see more and more volunteering in Shanghai and China, especially the participation of our young college students. The first time Shanghai recruited a large number of volunteers was for the World Expo in 2010. The 184-day expo greeted 73.08 million visitors from around the world with 246 exhibitors from 246 countries and economies, an expo record.

More than 600,000 people applied to be volunteers of the World Expo. University students became the primary volunteer force at expo pavilions. Shanghai University alone accounted for 8,000 students and staff members who volunteered for one month during their summer vacation, Xinmin Evening News reported.

Volunteers are also recruited for the city's annual international film and TV festival. Besides acting as on-the-spot guides or interpreters, volunteers help write multilingual subtitles for foreign films. These volunteers gained significant experience in serving people, taking and giving orders and handling emergencies. It becomes a significant part of their resume and a real skill which will later benefit them and their companies.

For college students who will serve at CIIE next month, I would suggest to them that they take this rare and important opportunity to do more than just volunteering. The event itself isn't merely a platform for buyers and sellers. It is a market where supply and demand ratio will be revealed. It's an occasion for new science and technology trends to be displayed. It's a place where innovative services and products will be showcased. And it is also an opportunity for new ideas to spring.

Most importantly, students may encounter their future academic or career development here. Young people today tend to feel lost when they talk about their future plans. They don't have any idea what job will be "hot" in the future and they lack information about the market requirements for certain talents.

This import expo will vividly display to students the most advanced products or ideas from around the world, which will inspire or at least offer a hint to them. Of course, there won't be anybody "telling" the volunteers these clues. The volunteers need to carefully observe and think about it while offering their services as guides and interpreters.

As a person who from time to time plays an HR role in recruiting new staff at my company, I can always tell the difference between applicants who have participated in volunteering roles and those who don't offer anything to the world except maybe good grades. The ones with real-world experience are always the ones we hire first.

Opportunities favor those who are ready. Students in Shanghai should take advantage of our city's wealth of resources and sign up as volunteers for CIIE. Donating a few days of your life will make a huge difference to your future.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.