Nice Work if You Can Get it

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One day in early December 2014, a group of designers was scolded by the boss for a negative working attitude. As the youngest one in the design department, Zhong Weiwei was silent. Two men were fired after the meeting, including his best friend. Zhong Weiwei went out of the office, took a cigarette out of his pocket and began to smoke. At that moment an idea flashed into his mind: he had to resign.

Zhong Weiwei had worked in that company for two and a half years since he graduated from Huaiyin Normal University which is an ordinary university in the north of Jiang Su Province. It was hard for him to find a place to stay when he went to Nanjing alone in the summer of 2012. The boss gave him an opportunity to become a designer in the ad company although his major was comic in the college.

Several rival companies had successfully lured other designers away from that company with offers of more money and fewer overtime hours. Zhong Weiwei had got a similar promise, but refused. “I couldn’t do that at that time. It was ungrateful,” Zhong said.

Zhong finally resigned the job at April 10, 2015. The ultimate reason for the resignation was occupational planning, not the salary or overtime-working, said Zhong. “I can stand the endless overtime-working, but I can’t stand working without target or progress.”

As a designer, Zhong Weiwei could only take the painting part of the whole design, which made him far away from being a design director. And the company always gave Zhong a blank cheque, promising to cultivate him next time. He grew annoyed. So he quitted, in search of new employer who could offer him opportunity to do graphic design works all by himself.

There were a lot of young people like Zhong resigning after working one or two years after graduating from college. According to the Chinese college graduate’s employment annual report (2014), 34% of the 2013 graduates had quitted from their previous jobs. Among these resigned graduates, 98% were leaving voluntarily. Two reasons led to the active leaving, the potential for growth and the welfare treatment. Although experts and some enterprise owners consider the resignation trend as a sign of employee dishonesty, young graduates disagree. “I think I am an honest person,” said Wang Xiaoxiao, a 2012 graduate from Nanjing Normal University, who had switched three companies within two months, “But I would never start to make a career plan if I didn’t jump ship.”

Wang, 25, cited working too late, moderate wages, hopeless promotion or no interest as reasons. Apart from those reasons, Wang said she found the most vital factor during her jumping-working time. She didn’t have a clear career goal.

Since graduated, Wang had got a job as an AE (Account Executive) persuaded by the HR in an ad company which served the real estate. Doing the AE’s work for one year and a half, she changed to be a copywriter in the same company which was her first choice when she applied for the company. When she resigned a half year later, she was exhausted and fed up with the real estate industry. “I always do things I was told to do. I can be an AE or a copywriter, and maybe tomorrow I will be a secretary. It’s time to make a change for myself.”

Wang‘s parents are not satisfied with Wang’s work in Nanjing. Wang’s father is a civil servant, and he asked Wang to take the civil service exam. In the parents’ opinion, being a civil servant is stable for life. Wang took the exam during her senior year, and she got the fourth place (only the top three could get to the interview stage). That was her first and last time to take the exam. “I would never take the civil service exam if my father didn’t force me,” said Wang, “Being a civil servant is boring, and I hate exams.”

Wang didn’t tell her parents about her job-hopping. She said she doesn’t want to add worries to her parents. They might call her back if they knew the frequent job changes. She said she might tell her parents later when she makes a clear career plan.

Having a stable job as a civilian official, Cai Mengze should not resign in other people’s opinion. But he never stops thinking of it. Cai’s daily work is serving the foreign doctors who went to China to take part in the international exchange activities. He got to know the importance of learning languages during his work time. When there are no visiting doctors, Cai takes the free time to learn French and Japanese. He believes that France is a magic country. He may find something new and something he really wants to do in France. So he decides to quit the stable job which he does the same boring things every day.

People around Cai are confused about Cai’s decision. They have no idea why the young man decides to quit the enviable job that with high welfare and more free time. “If I keep doing this job, I could predict my life would remain the same in two decades,” said Cai, “I have to go out to find a new way. It’s time to take action. ”

A generation or two ago, graduates were assigned to work. They are used to staying at one place for a long time. Most of them did the same work until they retired. So it’s not strange that they would be surprised by their children’s job-hopping. Cai needs to convince his parents that his life would be better after resigning. His parents might agree with him if he could provide a plan, he said.

Quitting a stable job sounds crazy, it’s hard for Cai to make the decision. Cai is interested in taking photos, but his dream job is to be an archaeologist. “It seems like there is no connection between an archaeologist and a civilian official, and I know I need to learn more about archaeology. Anyway, I just don’t want to the civil work anymore.” Cai has bought many books about archaeology, but he doesn’t have much time to read them.

“I can’t resign the job if I don’t have a clear plan. But I would never know what I should do if I didn’t resign to see the outside world,” said Cai, “It’s a paradox.”

Now he still does the job. No plan, no permission to resign.

In May, 2015, Wang Xiaoxiao got a new job as a designer after taking a design training courses. Some of her friends were confused about her decision, but Wang decided to follow her own heart this time. The friends thought it’s very hard for a girl to do the design job as it took much more time and energy. Wang said she will try to stay at this new company for at least one year. “It’s a new area for me, and I need to be patient to learn enough.”

And things became better for Zhong Weiwei. He wasn’t anxious to find a new job after the design job. Instead, he spent a month relaxing, painting pictures, and reading design books. A company contacted with Zhong Weiwei and committed him as a design director. He accepted. The first day Zhong Weiwei went to the new company, he worked late, until 11 pm. A week later, Zhong’s own design work appeared in the street. “It’s just a start,” said Zhong, “I can do more.”