I recently got a job at an internet marketing company in the city of Hangzhou, a city in central China, where the job market is so crowded that I had to walk for miles just to get from the office to my cubicle.
I worked there for three months and, by the time I was finally released, I had made about $25 an hour, and that was just on top of the $1,000 I had earned at my previous job in a restaurant.
I thought I was done working there.
But the next day, I was offered another job in the same location, this time at a local newspaper.
I turned it down, but then I saw the same job ad on the other side of town, and the company was still hiring.
And, after I read it, I started to panic.
So I asked the guy next to me what was going on.
“They want to hire you,” he said.
“You can be a reporter, a blogger, a photographer, a videographer, a web developer, a copywriter, an editor, or whatever.
They’re hiring all of these people, and you’re just a reporter.”
I asked why he had said that.
“Because I’ve been there before,” he replied.
“And I know what it feels like to work there.”
So, I went back to the office and sat down to talk to the manager.
He explained that the company wanted me to write about a certain company for a certain website, and he needed to see my resume, a video interview, and a cover letter.
He gave me a week to write it up and send it in, and then, after two weeks, I got an email back with a link to the site’s website.
I sat down and wrote my cover letter, and I got a call from a few weeks later saying that the new job had arrived.
I was ecstatic.
I had finally landed a job!
I had written a story about this company, and now I was a part of something big.
But I soon learned that the work was not the only thing that was going to be on my résumé.
I soon found out that my job was actually part of a marketing campaign to promote a company called Peking University.
I asked for the company’s name and a brief bio of the company and the people who run it, and they told me they were using a “strategic partnership” with the company to “make the Chinese university experience easier.”
I wanted to know more.
So, after several days of phone calls, emails, and phone calls with Peking’s VP of marketing, I wrote a piece about how the company had “adopted a model of education and learning to engage students” and had been “pushing for” Peking to hire more foreign students, and how the university was trying to “improve the quality of life for students by strengthening cultural ties with other nations.”
The university was “a unique opportunity to strengthen cultural ties between China and other countries,” I wrote.
It was a “great opportunity” for the Chinese, I concluded.
But, as I wrote in my piece, it was also a “very risky opportunity” because, “while Peking is trying to recruit more students from abroad, it has not managed to create any new graduates in China.”
I didn’t think much of the story.
But then, I read the second part of the piece, which was about the same subject: “A recent Peking study found that more than half of the Chinese students who take Peking courses end up with jobs in the IT sector.”
I was taken aback.
“That’s a big discrepancy!”
I thought to myself.
But Peking was the leading international university in China.
What was the university doing here?
“This is the first time I’ve heard of Peking, so I’m sure it’s not a coincidence,” the VP of Marketing told me.
He had been looking for an English-language university to help boost its English-proficiency program.
“We wanted to recruit foreign students from a variety of backgrounds, but the university is very focused on recruiting from its own population,” he explained.
I wondered if Peking had been the one that had been using the term “strategy partnership.”
He assured me that, “the Peking team has never used the term strategy partnership.”
But I didn’st want to believe him.
So then I asked him why the university had used the phrase.
“The university used the word strategy because we had an international students’ program, and Peking offered us a partnership,” he told me, explaining that the university wanted to “help Peking build a program for more international students to study at Peking.”
“So, they said, ‘Okay, what’s our strategy?’
We said, what is Peking trying to accomplish here?”
“The program’s the goal of P