Saturday, April 18, 2009

For my previous interviews with Group A and Group B, see my previous post.

In less than 24 hours, I had two last-minute interviews with Group C. The first interview was with one of their department managers the other night at 10 P.M. You can imagine my shock when I received a call from him that afternoon asking:

“Are you free to interview tonight?”
“Yes, that will be fine. What time?”
“Well I have a business dinner with customers, so around 9 or 10 P.M. Is that too late?”
“No…that’s fine…” {Meanwhile I’m wondering what the hell is going on.}

Talk about being eager to meet with me. Then the guy called again the next morning asking if I was available to meet with his boss. And as if that wasn't enough, after that interview they asked if I wanted to join them go to KTV with some customers. (I had to politely turn down that offer; I presume that they were bringing the customers to special KTV.) It's obvious that they really want me to join their group; I basically have an unofficial offer on the table.

To be honest, their offer is extremely tempting. I'd be working sales and project management for stand alone television and monitor displays. They anticipate another 3-6 months of training in China, and after that I'm on my own. After training, I'd have an incredible amount of flexibility to travel and visit different customers around Asia and Europe. It's an unbelievable opportunity to quickly move up the corporate ladder and get some valuable experience.

Sounds pretty awesome right? But there's still one major problem that I just can't look past:

I'd have to commit to working in China for an indefinite period of time.

They currently don't have any customers in the US, so I wouldn't be able to return back to the US and work from there. I'm still not exactly sure how I feel about that. "Indefinitely" is a long time to be away from my friends and family in the US. When I initially signed my contract and agreed to take this job I figured, "Okay Alan. It's just 6-12 months abroad. Work hard, put in your time, and then you can come back home." 

I wonder whether I can ever learn to call China "home." I've been living and working here for these past 9 months, but I still feel like a foreigner. I may be Chinese-American and this may be my ancestral homeland, but I don't really feel like I fit in or I belong here. You know, this is the first time I've been in Asia, let alone China. I wasn't born here and my parents weren't born here either, so I wasn't exactly brought up in this culture.

We've already began some discussions regarding the terms of the contract and it's seems like they want me bad enough that I can almost get whatever I want. I'll still be able to recieve my relatively expensive American worker salary without a pay cut. My housing costs will still be covered by the company. And most importantly, I'd get to come home for about a week every three months. In fact, my boss would be flexible and open to the idea allowing me to move dates around and come home when necessary for special occasions.

One of my best friends told me, "Alan, you should take it. If you asked 100 people, 99 of them would take it in a heartbeat." For me, there's a long list of pros balanced by one significant con. I still need to spend more time considering the offer. And let's not forget that there's still a number of other groups that I've been interviewing with as well.

Hopefully that all made sense. I'm thoughts have been a bit scrambled lately.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And so the search for my next assignment has officially kicked off. In the last two days, I've interviewed with two new groups. I'm really surprised by how quickly things are moving along.

For the first interview I got a call at 6:00 P.M. asking if I could interview that night. Talk about being hot to trot. I wasn't able to interview until 7:30 P.M., but they were willing to wait! And if that wasn't crazy enough, the entire interview was conducted in Mandarin. Granted he only asked me a few, simple questions (like "Tell me about yourself." and "Where are you from?"), but still it was pretty unreal. This group, which I'll call Group A, manufactures cases/enclosures for a major desktop and laptop computer company.

This morning I had an interview with one of the customer account manager located in the US from Group B. We chatted in Chinese for a few minutes before he learned about my background. When he learned that I'd been in China for 9 months and my parents never taught me how to speak Mandarin, he just laughed. And then he said, "You know we can just continue the interview speaking English, right?" Anyway, this group manufactures PCB and interconnectors for all of the major mobile phone suppliers.

I'm probably still have another round of interviews before actually getting selected by either of these groups though. I'm just hoping someone hires me before I head back to the US. It would be nice to have a job to come back to.

On an unrelated note, my supervisor wants me to stay in China until April 30th. So I guess I won't be back in the US until mid May. Again, still subject to final approval, etc.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Warm nights are great except for one thing: It's brings out all the mosquitoes. And recently I've been under relentless attack. I must have really delicious blood or something because I've always been especially prone to mosquito bites. Growing up, my family would always go camping the Labor Day Weekend before school started. I hated showing up to school that first day and having to explain the bumps all over my arms, legs, neck, and face. Damn my delicious smelling human body odor.

Anyway, I've just finished an un-intensive and unscientific evaluation of bites from the last two nights and I've compiled the following data and conclusions:

Conclusion #1: Mosquitoes in China are much more likely to feast upon my arms than any other section of my body.

Conclusion #2: Mosquitoes in China are twice as likely to feast upon the right half of my body.

Conclusion #3: Mosquitoes in China are rather indiscriminate about which part of my right arm they prefer to feast upon.

Silly or not, it's true. And I'm serious about all of those bites occurring within the last two days. The worst one are the bites on the bottom of my foot and the bottom of my palm though. UGH. Luckily, I found and killed one of the buggers this morning. It was rather disgusting just how much blood was in that little mosquito.

I've actually been getting so many bites that I haven't had a good sleep these last two nights. I kept waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of something buzzing in my ear. And then I think every once in awhile I'd wake up, scratch, and then go back to sleep. Talk about "sleep scratching."

I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this. One solution is to just stop exhaling (Apparently mosquitoes use exhaled breath to track victims down, especially when sleeping or exercising.) Somehow though, I don't think this is a viable optional. At least for now, I'm going to try leaving the air conditioner on while I'm sleeping.

I guess I should be thankful that the mosquitoes here don't have malaria...mosquitoes can't carry SARS or avian flu, can they?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In many ways, today was a pretty uneventful day. I didn't have any crazy adventures. I didn't go sightseeing. And I didn't take any pictures. I just went to play basketball and have dinner in Hong Kong. And yet, today was also one of the most difficult days for me.

In case you haven't heard, there is a very good possibility that I may be heading back to the US sooner than expected. (And I say "possibility" because nothing is ever promised tomorrow, today. Plus there's a lot of decisions that still haven't been finalized.)

I have a little over a week left to get ready to leave Shenzhen. The most pressing matter for me right now is informing my friends and coworkers here in China. I've always known that this day would come, but I never imagined that it I'd be leaving so soon and so suddenly. I just haven't had time to mentally prepare myself to break the news to them. I'm still trying to process everything myself.

Today, I told my friends the good/bad news. I didn't want to put a damper on the whole day, so I waited until after eating to make the announcement. I answered the usual bajillion questions about my situation. It was difficult, but it had to be done. It makes me sad to think that this may be the last time I see some of them. 

I don't have a lot of friends here in China. When you can barely speak enough Chinese to hold a conversation, it's hard to get to know people. And when you're working six days a week, it's hard to get out and meet people. Thus, it was really unique that I was become friends with these people grew up and went to school in the US. I may have only known them for about a month and a half, but I have come to trust them.

I remember the first time I met them: I was at this Shenzhen Young Professionals exchange event with one of my American coworkers. We both felt so out of place because the average age was like 30. Everyone else was networking and exchanging business cards; we didn't even bring any business cards. Two of us are standing there getting ready to leave when we spot these other two Asian guys across from us. We're all looking at each other probably thinking, "You don't look like a local Chinese person. Are you American?" It gave us the courage to introduce ourselves, and the rest is history. 

Tomorrow, I have to tell my coworkers. Imagine having to tell people you that you've seen 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for last 9 months.