WildChina > WildChina > China’s Next Generation

I must be out of touch with China’s next generation. The son of a friend of mine called me up for some advice on career. This is how the conversation went:

Son of a Friend (SOF): “Shall I pursue a PHD in engeering?”

Mei: “That depends on what you goal is. What do you want to achieve? What is your goal?”

SOF: “To make money!”

Mei: “Hmmm, tell me why that’s so important for you?”

SOF: “Well, last time when I was in Beijing, I went to a dinner with my father to entertain a retired chief of China’s Central Bank. He was driving a Nissan, which couldn’t have cost more than 50,000 RMB. I felt really sorry for him. There is such huge difference between being in power and not being in power. I am sure when he was the central banker, he was surrounded and served by tons of people. So, I decided that being a government official is not what I wanted in life. Making money is the best way to go.”

Mei: “ Why do you think a PHD would help you get closer to your goal of making money?”

SOF: “I plan to go back to China to work in transportation engineering. Those are all government projects. So, I have to be chosen by someone in power to win those projects. I believe they would choose the ones with a good resume, good degree from one of the well known schools.”

Mei: “Well, let me tell you what. PHD is probably a long winded way to get to your goal of making money. Being someone who has a good degree from one of the famous school (yes, I do have a Harvard MBA), I know, a good degree might help to open the door for you. But whether you make money or dirt inside the door is entirely dependent on who you are and what you can deliver. “

The snap shot might only provide a snap shot of our conversation, which I am sure didn’t help his decision making. But, it had a huge effect on me. I couldn’t stop asking myself, what’s wrong with me? Just becoming too old fashioned or has money sucked the air of China’s next generation?

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