Forbes: A New Alumni Network In Asia Is Linking International Graduates With Jobs
Tens of thousands of young Vietnamese head abroad every year to pursue university studies in foreign countries. There are more than 30,000 Vietnamese students in the US at any one time, even more in Australia. The UK and other ASEAN countries such as Singapore are also popular destinations for Vietnamese students.
The impact of this generation of Vietnamese educated internationally is having a significant impact on the local labor market, and on the students themselves. Positions at multi-national companies that once would have been filled by expatriate employees and now more often than not staffed by internationally-educated, bi-lingual locals at a fraction of the cost.
Students look at books during a four-day book fair at a public park in downtown Hanoi. (PHOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
While that education can certainly open up opportunities, it also comes with its challenges. That exposure to different ways of thinking can cause some frustration when they return. I was recently speaking with an acquaintance who studied at an Australian university, who was chaffing at the behavior of some of her colleagues and their more traditional mindset. It seems an international education has many advantages, but in some ways it can be isolating.
It was just this kind of scenario that brought about the creation of the International Alumni Job Network (IAJN), which was recently officially launched in Vietnam and now has a presence in 15 countries across Asia. Founded by Australian pair Shane Dillon and Kate Harden, the idea for a network of international alumni came from a chance encounter at a resort on the island of Phu Quoc.
Dillon, who works in the insurance industry, ran into a young graduate at the resort who had returned from studying overseas but was feeling a sense of dislocation and felt he was unable to leverage his education into a suitable job.
“That was the starting point, we thought ‘how can we make a social group and employment group for these guys?’,” he says. “They want to be connected to good jobs and they want to connect with each other because they have become almost third culture.”
The IAJN membership has grown organically in a few months to around 8,000, with up to 200 new registrations per day. They are aiming for 100,000 members by the end of the year.
Harden, who runs the IAJN’s day-to-day operations, says the strength of the concept is backed up by the fact many of their members are working for companies that are looking to recruit local staff with an international education.
“We are finding we have got a lot of buzz in the community in general because [our members] are referring us to their HR managers, or they are the HR manager or the owners of the business,” she says. “There is a really interesting synergy we’ve got with this cycle of education to employment.”
Some of the companies tapping into the IAJN pool of talent include Microsoft, Zalora and Prudential. Companies post their vacancies on the network’s site, or organizations signing up for the premium service can make use of a candidate matching service. There are also plans to begin a series of social events for the alumni, allowing them to connect with those with similar experiences.