Connecting your CIO to your Future: Chinese Students and Scholars Society

Career Administrator

Check out the following spotlight on Chinese Students and Scholars Society (CSSS) featuring Chengxing He, who is a third year obtaining his PhD in Physics. CSSS at UVA consists mainly of UVA students, scholars and staffs from China. CSSS at UVA is dedicated to provide support for the local Chinese community, as well as promoting Chinese culture on grounds. CSSS is responsible for holding and sponsoring multiple large-scale Chinese students’ activities including annual Spring Festival Gala, and Annual Chinese Drama Club production. CSSS is an organization that consists of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of majors, such as Commerce, Statistics, PPL, Psychology, Math, etc. Read on to learn Chengxing’s journey with CSSS.

What is the benefit of joining CSSS?

CSSS is responsible for multiple large-scale activities, which would often involve ~50 staffs and hundreds of participants. Close collaborations and precise cooperation throughout our organization would be crucial for all those activities to happen, thus CSSS is a great platform for fostering leadership and teamwork skills. In addition, thanks to the variety of the background of our members, which range from first years to graduate students, commerce school to engineering school, it is never hard within our organization to appreciate diversity in how different people tackle the same task differently, and to learn from each other. On the more practical side, CSSS established a strong online platform, including CSSS newsletter, where we will post lots of career opportunities and on-grounds activities, and CSSS ads, which works like an online P2P selling platform.

What is your current role and overall experience of being involved in CSSS? How have you achieved, or hope to attain personal development?

This is my second year as the outreach chair of CSSS. Thanks to the vast resources that CSSS can access, both monetary wise and network wise, I really feel empowered to launch new projects and also connect with others, within and outside the group. The workload from CSSS can sometimes be pressurizing, but this is exactly the ingredient that pushes me to evolve as a leader and as a team member. Through peer review before and after every activity we hold, I learned how to tackle problems in different and more efficient ways which I would otherwise never have come up with just by thinking alone. The network I gained through CSSS is also extensive, from local churches which helped us pick up incoming students from the airport, to officials in Chinese embassy who advises us on how to organize better events, let alone lots of excellent students within our organization and in sister organizations in other universities. I doubt that only a few organization on grounds can provide network that is as extensive as CSSS.

What are some transferrable skills gained from being a member of CSSS that can be mentioned in a resume or interview?

CSSS is a big organization with members of variety backgrounds doing large-scale works. Within this organization, our members can expect to gain self-awareness through their constant collaboration with others, as well as accountability since our tasks for each participating member is well defined. Going up the ladder, council members of CSSS would be responsible for organizing activities from planning to executing, this would require and foster their strategic thinking and action skills, and decision-making skills. Organizing a group in such a scale also requires significant organizational skills and time management skills, which I found myself improved a lot during the past two years. Additionally, soft skills are also crucial since we have to communicate externally with many CIOs on grounds to co-sponsor events and internally make sure all messages got distributed throughout the organization timely and accurately.

How does CSSS help undergraduate students explore?

Our organization consist of students from a variety of grades and majors, so for lower-grade students, it is never hard to find a higher-grade student in the major he/she is interested within our organization. Want to go to grad school? Consult a graduate student. Want to go to commerce? Talk with a senior student who just got a job offer. Besides this, we also hold Darden coffee chats, Comm School panel and other career panels to help students learn more about possible career paths and be more certain about their futures. We are also planning to organize company tours in which students can gain insights into different industries and their daily works.

For lower-grade students, they can find examples of what they want to be within CSSS, and I am proud that some of the best performing students within their majors are in CSSS. In terms of the career culture within our organization, I think we really embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship. If any of our member has a great idea of organizing a new event, we pretty much have all the resources we need to make it happen, and would encourage and urge ourselves to bring those ideas to come to life.

What advice/information would you give to UVA students interested in exploring CSSS? What is the time commitment?

I would encourage students to communicate with our members, the more the better. Our organization is a giant sophisticated machine, to be able to see and analyze how this giant machine as a whole works would be very beneficial. If a student is only seeing or being part of the machine and not care about the rest, then he/she wouldn’t learn quite as much. Time commitment for members would vary, it depends on how motivated you are, it would range from 1-5 hours per week for a typical member.

What general advice do you have for students who are uncertain in what they want to get involved in? How can they start exploring?

I would advise them to participate in the activities we organize and start talking to our members. For those who maybe themselves in some kind of CIOs, I think they should make good use of their membership and consult some of their senior members, learn more about their experiences (clubs they joined, classes they took) and takeaways from their college life. Also, start from something they truly interested in, something that might be trivial now, and do not follow what's everyone else's doing. Last but not least, consider subscribe to our mail list, there are lots of valuable information on it.

CSSS recruits new members at the beginning of every Fall semester and will form a new council every Spring semester. For joining CSSS or seeking collaboration with them, please contact Alice Xu