Alumni Awards 2016 finalist - Cynthia Chan

Cynthia is Talent Innovator at The Next Innovation Group, an innovative headhunting start-up that helps recent graduates find their path and achieve their dreams. Cynthia credits her UK education, and the opportunity she had to meet people from all over the world, with shaping her into who she is today: an independent and responsible woman with an open mind to new possibilities.

1.    Why did you choose to study in the UK?

When I was little, Hong Kong was my entire world and I was not interested in anything that happened outside of it. Before I studied in the UK, my life was about studying, achieving good academic results and surfing the internet. 

A summer camp to the UK changed my perspectives. That was my first time to get a chance to meet with people from other parts of the world and I spent an entire three weeks with them. It was an exciting experience. I fell in love with the scenery in the UK and people there were friendly. The class size was small and teachers would interact with students in ways which made learning engaging and fun. After the camp, my parents agreed to support my study in the UK by sending me to boarding school, and later on to the University of Nottingham where I studied economics.

2.    How did studying in the UK shape you as a person?

I felt that my study in the UK gave me various important qualities to become the person I am today.

In class, teachers would encourage us to strike a balance between education and extracurricular activities to enhance the quality of student life. My classmates were all very keen on asking questions and teachers always answered them patiently. There were no right or wrong answers but the opportunities to express our views. A positive and encouraging environment made a huge difference in learning and I became more responsive in class.

Making friends with people from all over the world has definitely changed the way I think as we grew up with different upbringings and practices. I became a more open-minded person and learned to embrace the beauty of diversity.

Every step we took was one step closer to where we wanted to be and the support from our teachers and friends helped us go further.

3.    What did you enjoy most about living in Nottingham?

I loved our campus very much and used to spend a lot of time on the lawn with my friends reading and chilling out. I enjoyed every tiny little thing that happened during my time in Nottingham - the University campus, the study time I had with my friends in the library, shopping with friends in the city center and  the festive environment during Christmas time.

4.    You started a business on executive search and your work involves advising young graduates about their career options – can you tell us more about Next Innovation?

Our objective is to break the traditional ways of recruitment and support younger generations. We have encountered a lot of cases where students do not know what they can do after graduation. We offer advisory and interview skills sessions to fresh graduates to discuss their goals and the possible options they can choose to help them identify what they want to do and perform better in a formal interview.

5.    How should prospective students going to the UK prepare for their future careers?

It’s easy for us to stay within our comfort zone, especially when we are with people like us. It’s also easy for us to forget that we have a lot of potential and that we can make the impossible possible. Taking internship/ part-time job is a good way to get a taste of what it’s like to work in a company. Taking part in volunteer work or even freelance roles can give you an opportunity to connect and expand your network which can be very useful when you are looking for a full-time job.


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