Kirsty Armstrong, class of 2007

Kirsty with a friend

I’m not sure when I plan to return to the UK, or if I ever will long term. I like to go by the theory that you only live once and you should seize every opportunity while you can, so for the time being at least Beijing is my home!

I graduated from Lincoln University in 2007 with a 2:1 (BA HONS) in Media Production.

Being at University and away from home gave me the life skills I desperately needed; independence, exposure to people from all walks of life, confidence, open mindedness, initiative – the list goes on and on but none of these nearly compare to the incredible friendships I had made and the knowledge I gained. By the time I graduated I wasn’t at all ready to leave all of this behind.

The three years flew by incredibly quickly- so much so that I hadn’t actually had time to think about what I wanted to do in the future, though one thing I was certain about was that I would never be able to settle in a normal 9-5 job – Lincoln University opened my mind to endless possibilities, if I had got this far I could do anything – but the question was, what exactly?

I knew I wanted to work in the media industry, I wanted to be creative, I wanted to see the world and most importantly I didn’t want to move back in with my parents!

In the summer of 2008, I decided to join a program teaching English in China for 6 months where I received a TEFL qualification, and then the plan was to travel Asia. So I left England with promises to return after Christmas, hopefully having learnt some Mandarin and to have seen some of the world.

Once I arrived in China I instantly fell in love with the place, the people, the culture and the language. I loved teaching English, but I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do for a career. Christmas came and went and I stayed put in China. I moved to Beijing to take another teaching post but having more free time I began concentrating on securing some media work.

I was offered an internship position for a month over the summer with the company I originally came over to China with, making promotional videos and doing freelance photography and soon after I was lucky enough to be offered a full time job. My company is an Australian based International company, which brings over 500 westerners a year from around the world to China to partake in Internships, cultural exchanges and to study Mandarin.

After a year in China everything had changed for me and I knew I wasn’t going to return to the UK anytime soon. I began volunteering as a photographer for a wonderful UK registered Charity, (The Migrant Children’s Foundation) ran by Beijing expats, which raises money to support Beijing’s migrant workers, their children and the community and this led to me being offered a position as their media manager. The majority of my time was soon filled visiting half built schools and marketing the charity to make people aware of the situation, raising money to help buy materials and to offer the migrant workers and children a better life.

Two and a half years later I’m still here settled in Beijing! I have worked my way up in the company and I am now a media coordinator – responsible mainly for filming and editing promo videos, website design and administration, making short documentaries about China and article writing. 

I have also done far more traveling than anticipated, spending time in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and of course traveling throughout China from the far south up to the border of Russia. I love that with my job I get to travel too – visiting our interns, blogging and filming as I go! 

A few months ago I was sent on a 32 hour train Journey across China to Chengdu, Sichuan province, and it was an incredible experience.

The opportunities in China are endless, last month the annual World Youth Student Travel Conference was held in Beijing and I was asked to help cover the media as my company was a gold sponsor of the event. Delegates from all around the world came together to speak about the student travel market and overseas education opportunities and I was responsible for designing and producing a daily newspaper and also filming and editing seminars and conferences over the duration.

Since the conference I have been working on a project for my company to market our internships to UK Universities, encouraging cultural immersion by focusing primarily on promoting the media industries. 

Having partnerships with China International Radio, web design companies, famous expat magazines and television production companies in Beijing and Shanghai my goal is to bring more western ideas and influences into the creative industries here in China.

I hope that more people can realise the endless possibilities of furthering your career path in another country, like I did.