High expectations a problem for Vietnamese returning with foreign degrees: experts

By Binh Minh   January 16, 2024 | 02:01 am PT
Vietnamese returning home after studying abroad often find it challenging to adapt to the working environment possibly due to high expectations and low salaries, analysts say.

Nguyen Thi Hai Thanh of Apac Dao, a group of companies operating in the Web3 and Blockchain sector across Asia, said the advantages returning students have are confidence, language skills and open-mindedness.

Le Thanh Ngan, head of recruitment at FPT Education Organization, said students graduating overseas generally have good English proficiency and a professional demeanor.

Vietnamese students in a trekking trip in Tokyo, Japan, 2021. Photo by VnExpress

Vietnamese students in a trekking trip in Tokyo, Japan, 2021. Photo by VnExpress

Both agreed they are also quick-witted, well-connected and possess critical thinking skills.

Yet they often face challenges when working in Vietnam, they said at the "Connect the Dots 2024" career fair organized by the British Council and the U.K. Alumni Association in Vietnam (UKAV) at the National Economics University in Hanoi on Jan. 13.

Ngan said returnees are well-suited for international cooperation jobs requiring English, but often lack experience in administrative tasks or communication with government agencies.

Another challenge is that their self-expectations are high and want to play important roles right after returning and starting to work for a company in Vietnam rather than work their way up, she said.

"That's why not all international students returning home can easily find jobs."

She advised them to manage their expectations and accept ordinary jobs to gain experience first.

Both said lower-than-expected salary levels are another challenge for returnees.

While starting salaries vary among businesses, there is a tendency to pay foreign graduates slightly higher at VND13-25 million (US$500-1,000) a month.

Dang Vu Diem Anh, who has a bachelor's degree in corporate finance from the University of Essex in the U.K. and returned to Vietnam to work in 2017, said salaries are low compared to abroad.

She advised other returnees to research the market before applying to "avoid disappointment."

She also said those who had studied abroad should initially focus on understanding which levels they are categorized in when starting a job and how they could thrive in that position.

"Nothing is a wasted effort. This will bring you a lot later."

She also warned that returnees might experience "reverse culture shock."

"In the U.K., the community culture is not as prevalent as in Vietnam and there is a higher emphasis on individuals."

When starting to work in Vietnam, she had to readjust and then began to appreciate the warmth and care in the Vietnamese community culture, she said.

Returnees often need more time to adapt to work here than local graduates, she said.

Despite being trained in teamwork and presentation skills and doing internships, the operational methods at foreign enterprises differ from those in Vietnam, and local graduates quickly adapt to the work culture and communication style, while returnees need to learn and integrate, she said.

The Ministry of Education and Training said earlier this month that around 40,000 people go abroad every year to study, a 2.5-fold increase from before 2013.

go to top