Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Certificate Program Alum Finds Joy in China

February 13, 2014

A trip to China with the Certificate Program changed the life of political science major Jessica Davis (BA ’10, political science). She had planned a law career, but today is host of a Chinese television show and acting in a historic drama that draws an average of about 30-50 million viewers. She’s gotten there by recognizing opportunities and applying entrepreneurial skills to craft a career.

“Political Science was my major, but my passion was entrepreneurship,” Davis says. “The capstone course – Maymester in China – changed my life. During the trip, I saw inside Chinese corporations and the ways they operated. I also learned about Chinese entrepreneurship and my eyes were opened to the fact that China is the new land of opportunity.”

After graduation, Davis considered law school, but was it would mean spending years paying off debt in a job that was not her true passion. Instead, within a period of two months, she decided to move to China and taught Introduction to Business Management for three years at SIAS International University. She also earned an MBA through a partner school of SIAS, Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas

When “Joy in China,” a television show on the American ICN network and Chinese Henan TV, needed a travel TV show host, Davis volunteered for the job. The weekly program showcases small Chinese cities that want to boost both foreign and domestic travel to their city or region. 

In addition to being on-camera, Davis is trying her hand at acting with small parts in historical TV dramas and has used her entrepreneurial skills behind the scenes to improve the show. “Joy in China” featured a different foreigner every week, which Davis says led to disorganization and having to constantly train inexperienced foreigners. She saw an opportunity to create a job for herself.  “I submitted a proposal listing the reasons why having a continuous foreign host would improve the show,” she says. “The proposal also included why I was the right foreigner for the job and salary requirements.

In China, official government authorization is needed to hire a foreigner. The TV station found an English teacher placement agency called CZZ China and worked out a deal: CZZ China would pay for Davis’s Chinese visa, living expenses, and salary. In exchange, she would work for the placement agency two weeks a month as a substitute teacher, and two weeks a month for the TV station. 

With CZZ, a new company, Davis saw yet more opportunity. “I realized that by implementing some basic business principles and adopting some simple policies that it could greatly improve,” she says. She proposed that she stop teaching and be appointed the company’s new director of HR and events coordinator. She is hoping to own shares in the company and possibly become a partner, “because this is what I have focused on since my sophomore year at Purdue: build a business in China that could one day be successful.”

“I love my job, traveling all over China and being paid for it. Every day, I feel like I’m pursuing my dream and that I am always one step closer,” she says. “I have no idea what the future will hold for me, but I wake up every day excited to see what will happen.” 

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