Six months ahead of graduation day, college seniors are thinking about the future. Sure, there are always the standard career choices, but there are plenty of other options you may never hear of. We interviewed three young people to see what their “odd” jobs are like.
1. Fly counter
It was a hot summer day, and Yu Jun, 24, had been kneeling by the train tracks for more than 30 minutes. Sweat dripped down his face. He was getting strange looks from passersby. But none of that concerned him. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen ... he murmured every now and then. His only concern was to count how many flies had just landed on the train track.
Yu, a chemistry graduate from Peking University, describes himself as a fly counter. His actual profession is to monitor a rail’s impact on the environment.
"Constructing a railway always affects its surroundings. The noise of a train passing by is harmful to people’s health. Human excrement left by the train not only attracts insects and disturbs the ecological environment, but also poses threats to the soil and water,” Yu said. His job, therefore, is to observe and test the rail’s impacts. He and his colleague will then find ways to mitigate them.
Taking a casual snapshot that still makes you look good can seem almost impossible. But Yang Xiaojing is trying to bridge that gap by becoming a photo editor.
Yang, 23, is a business management graduate from Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics. Ever since she started using Photoshop, a photo editing software, she can’t live without it.
"I’d never post a photo online without Photoshopping it. The compulsory need to look good is shared by other people too,” she said. So during her college years, Yang volunteered to work part-time at her campus’ photo studio. By editing more than 300 photos a day for three years, Yang can now beautify a snapshot within 10 minutes. That efficiency won her a full-time position at the studio after her graduation.
For beginners, it may take hours to edit a photo. But while speed helps, what’s more important is quality, according to Yang.
"Customers want to look good but not too artificial. Striking a balance between the two does not necessarily require a diploma in art or software. Practice is the key to success,” she said.
3. Sleep expert
As she checks in before entering her hotel room, Chen Cheng looks no different than any other tourist or business traveler. But instead of paying to sleep at a hotel, she gets paid. Chen is a freelance hotel test sleeper.
Chen, 25, took a year to travel around Europe after she graduated from Edinburgh University in the UK. During that trip, she got to experience different hotels and meet different people. She shared those experiences on Qyer.com, where she got her first job to write a review for a newly opened hotel in Chengdu.
"To put it simply, a hotel test sleeper is a role-play traveler. You imagine yourself as travelers of different types, ages and genders, and see how each hotel fits their particular needs,” Chen said.
"It sounds simple, but you have to be attentive to do it well. You also need to be a good writer, because after each trial, you need to produce a comprehensive report on the hotel’s facilities, location, prices, dining and cleanliness,” she added.