The improved economic climate has seen many Vietnamese who studied overseas have better career prospects upon their return, with most seeking jobs at international companies.
Every year increasing numbers of Vietnamese students go abroad to study in a better educational environment than found here and with a foreign degree being held in higher regard by employers. Many choose to stay in the country of their studies, but most return home. Those who do come back more often than not want to work at international companies because of the higher salary, more professional working environment and so on. But this is easier said than done.
Thu Trang, a third-year student in banking and finance at a US university, said she will definitely return to Vietnam after graduating. “It’s always been my intention to return home,” she said. “There are many large foreign enterprises in banking and finance in Vietnam, such as HSBC, ANZ, and Prudential, so there are more opportunities for people like me. I don’t want to work in a local company, because the salary and working environment are not as good. I need a good job in a dynamic working environment where I can use English skills regularly, with a salary in proportion to what I’ve invested in my studies.”
Of a similar mind, Thanh Binh, a marketing graduate from a US university, said: “With the knowledge I gained I wanted to work at a foreign company where I could show my ability. Foreign companies also have a competitive working environment, which allows staff to improve themselves and earn a better salary than at a local company.” He now works for an FDI enterprise in Hanoi and is happy in his job.
It seems that salary and working environment are important criteria for Vietnamese students graduating overseas. With the money they are their families have spent, the salary aspect is easy to understand, according to another overseas student, Thuy Linh. “I believe that studying banking and finance in the UK gives me an advantage when I return to Vietnam. I want an international working environment where I use my abilities and learn from experienced people. I am confident of finding a good job with an international company when I graduate, and my friends studying in the UK feel the same way.”
Mr Lam Tuan, head of the personnel department at a joint venture real estate company, said that with advantages in foreign languages and the dynamism and self-confidence gained from living independently away from home, upon returning to Vietnam students will be competitive in the labour market. “I can understand why they want to work at international companies, and with their skills they should be able to,” he said.
According to Mr Paul Huynh, Senior HR Manager at KPMG Vietnam, his company takes on some 30 graduates of overseas universities each year, as they have advantages in communication skills and English, as well as confidence and a “can do” attitude.
Working at an international company with a dynamic environment, having the opportunity to use their foreign language skills regularly and, especially, having a good salary are legitimate aspirations for many Vietnamese students after graduating overseas.
Vietnam’s economy is developing strongly with the presence of many international companies and creates many opportunities for students when they return home. But it’s not so easy if they lack experience and professional knowledge or seek too high a salary or position.
Learning from every recruitment period at his company, Mr Lam Tuan said: “I find that many Vietnamese students simply have a university degree with a ‘foreign label’, but their knowledge and capacity are limited, sometimes even less so than graduates of universities in Vietnam.” Besides that, overseas students who have just returned to Vietnam and didn’t work before going overseas usually think too big, asking for ambitious salaries. “This will give them problems when they apply for a job,” he said.
To save time and make a better impression on potential employers, he continued, overseas students should research company websites to know the functions of a typical position. He also suggested overseas students not set their targets too high. “Overseas students with little experience should first try to work in different jobs to gain experience,” he advised. “Then they will be better appreciated when they apply for jobs at international companies.”
Understanding the psychology of over-confidence among returning overseas students, Mr Paul Huynh suggested their expectations need to be managed in terms of salaries and the type of work that they may be performing, and they need to understand that they are still on a learning curve and should not be considered above local graduates. “Their strong attitude can also sometimes be mistaken for aggressiveness, so this needs to be channelled the right way,” he said.