China / Education

Prospects rise for graduates in Silicon Valley

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-21 07:39

Chinese graduates looking to land jobs in Silicon Valley have more choices than ever, ranging from well-established companies or ever-mushrooming startups to projects of their own based in the United States or China.

Students born in the 1990s have more career choices than those who arrived in the US in the 1990s, said Olina Qian, founder of the Silicon Valley Association of Chinese Entrepreneurs, an organization that helps professionals and entrepreneurs connect to resources.

Qian herself went to the US for a master's degree program in 1999.

"At that time, every student wished to stay in the US after graduation, even if the job might not be their best choice," Qian said. "If you could be hired by a big-name company, you would be considered a lucky dog.

"But now, more and more graduates are not satisfied with a secure job," she said. "They want to launch their own startups or try their luck in innovative startups, partly because of China's rapid growth in recent years and the 10-year-validity visa between China and the US."

Some investment funds in China, such as ZhenFund and IDG Capital Partners, put aside special funds for startups of those born in the 1990s, the driving force of both consumption and innovation. Last year, IDG Capital Partners set up a $100 million fund for 1990s-generation entrepreneurs.

Those who can secure enough funding can acquire legal status in the United States and launch startups; if not, the 10-year visa allows them to travel between China and the US more freely, Qian said.

Kedao Wang, a 24-year-old Chinese engineer, chose to join RelateIQ, a business software startup in Silicon Valley, two years ago after graduating from the University of Michigan. The company was acquired by, a cloud computing company in San Francisco, for $390 million last year.

He said the experience at the small startup was valuable for his overall growth, as he was assigned important jobs in areas other than technology, such as marketing, product design and promotion.

"Compared with big companies, small startups allow programmers to see the developing result in a short time, so that they can receive users' feedback in a timely manner," he said.

Wang became a leader responsible for developing a high-user viscosity browser plug-in within a month of joining the company.

However, not everyone is as lucky as Wang.

"Most of the people in startups are working hard and seeking opportunities," Qian said. "My advice for them is to establish their network, participate in startup-related activities and share their ideas and challenges with others."

That's why her group has quickly become a popular startup community with more than 8,000 members since it was founded in June last year.

Among the members, including entrepreneurs, venture investors and technology professionals in the US and China, about 70 percent are high-tech company employees, while 20 percent are recent graduates and the rest are students.

By holding various lectures, group discussions and road shows, the group helps entrepreneurs connect with investors and members to share their ideas and experience.

"But startups are not for everyone," Qian said. "You should be fully prepared for hardships and have a clear vision as to what you want to be before you make a decision."

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