Career Outlook for Vietnamese Students

As a developing economy, Vietnam has made significant strides in improving the infrastructure and curricula of the country’s school system. However, Vietnam continues to face huge challenges in providing qualified workforce for industry. Students while having increasing exposure to modern management methods continue to lag behind in gaining practical work experience to be successful in the growing number of multinational companies entering the Vietnam market.

One Vietnamese student asked such question on being successful in job search. You may refer to CyVee, a Vietnam professional networking site, for the full question and answers. Below is my response.

Hi Ly,
Great question. It also looks like you are a student yourself.

The biggest challenge for students is the lack of exposure to career counseling/advising. One of the learning outcomes of a university education, besides the academic studies, is personal development. In the US, where I come from, universities have Student Affairs and Advising offices, where students receive counseling and advising on academic and career choices.

So, how can students make informed decisions about career choice, despite the differences in resources available to you?

#1) Informational Interview
• Talk to your friends and students who graduated before you. Identify individuals who have similar experience and career interest as you. Ask them what like or dislike about their job. Ask them to describe their daily routines. Discuss the company culture and career path including training and development.

#2) Internship or Volunteer Opportunities
• Get some work experience. Find out first-hand what the work is really like your career interest area. Try to find an internship that gives you real work experience where you have responsibility for a project. It is still not yet a common practice for companies to offer internships and good internships are few. You will have to start looking early. Try to think-out-of-the-box. You can always volunteer at organizations and build up your “transferable skills.”

#3) Read
• This is so basic and yet, few students do this to learn about their career choice. For example, if you want to be a human resource professional then read HR magazines. You will find out that there is an array of functions including, recruiting, training, organization development, business partner, compensation and benefits and more. There are a number of websites dedicated to professional groups. Read and learn.

Lastly, one of my pet peeves is student negotiating for salary. Students should think about the opportunities for training and development. They should consider the company culture and opportunities for manager coaching. Perhaps, after students have gained some practical skills then they can negotiate for salary. And, if you are good, the money will come to you.

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