If you've been questioning my sanity in moving to China without a job lined up, or for turning down positions that were offered but did not interest me, I invite you to relax: I have an amazing job.
Against my better judgment, last summer I posted my resume to one of the more promising local job boards, called Matchdragon. In January I received an email from someone who found my resume online and was interested in talking with me about a position with a major international NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), working in economic development, clean energy and finance. At first it sounded too good to be true, so I did some research and asked friends in Beijing and around the world with connections to the NGO if they had any knowledge of the particular group or of the position. A week after, late Friday afternoon, I went for my first interview. One friend had advised me that interviews within this organization tend to emphasize teamwork, intercultural awareness, technology and several other issues, which helped me to be prepared with appropriate discussion points.
I had already planned a trip to the U.S. for the following week, which I mentioned. Tuesday evening, when I arrived in the U.S., I received an email notifying me that I was chosen for the second interview, to take place several days after I returned to China. I met the head of the office and we discussed the position and my background.
Last Sunday afternoon I received a phone call officially offering me the position. Monday morning I started working, and late in the week I went on my first official trip - to be followed by many others. I need to improve my Chinese drastically, and I've already started telling people that I'm allergic to alcohol (to avoid having to drink endless rounds of baijiu (a local hard liquor)), but the people in my office are smart and motivated, and I'm going to be doing a lot of work in areas that interest me.
Balancing work and school is going to be a challenge but I am thrilled by the wonderful opportunities I am encountering here and the work I will be doing.