By Chongpu Zhang
Keeping a woman’s age a secret not only means a respect for Jufang Wang, a Chinese immigrant who lives in Waltham, but also represents more chances being hired. Since age information is required in most job applications in China, “It is impossible to find a job at my age there, but here no one can judge me based on my age before interviewing,” Wang smiles.
Wang is taking a training program with a finance concentration in YMCA Training Incorporation. After being a manager herself for 17 years, Wang decided to gain some skills required by the market and work for other managers.
In 1995, after struggling for a long time, Wang finally gave up her decent life in Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China, and came to Boston to be with her husband, who came here one year early than her. “We were the first group of people in China to have the phones, to buy our own house before 1989, and we even could afford a housekeeper,” Wang recalls. Coming to America meant they had to start from zero.
Wang’s husband set up an automobile radiator corporation, General Trading International Corporation, in Newton in 1995, and only hired one employee to work as a translator due to the limited budget. It was a hard time for Wang and her husband during the first 10 years. They usually worked 10 hours a day. They got up at 7a.m., and then drove to office before 8a.m. “I could not open my eyes, so I just lay down in the car while my husband was driving,” Wang says. They worked all day long until 8p.m., then got home to cook dinner, and went to bed around midnight. “Then the next morning started again,” Wang says. Since there were not enough employees, so they not only needed to do the office work, but also had to download and upload the products by themselves. “I worked as a sales lady, a customer service, an accountant, and even a driver,” Wang says.
Besides the automobile radiator business, they also opened other businesses, such as leather jackets in retail stores and renting units. “During the busiest time, I had to manage three retail stores and our radiator company at the same time,” Wang says. Although it was a bitter memory for them, they finally lived a better life compared to that in China. “It is a land you can get success as long as you work hard,” Wang says. “Unlike China that everything is talked over the dinner table, customers here just ask a good price and a good service.”
In the December of 2011, Wang’s husband closed their radiator company because of the economic depression. “A lot of people just took the public transportation rather than taking a car,” Wang says. They could have closed it earlier when the sales decreased sharply around 2008. “But it was like our baby, and we didn’t want to give it up easily,” Wang says. When the revenue could just cover the rent, they decided to close it and only focused on their business of units’ renting.
Instead of staying at home and enjoying life, Wang chose to continue to work. “I always think I am a career woman,” Wang says. But unlike working for herself, Wang needs to gain some new skills. Although English was Wang’s major when she was in college, she still thinks she needs to improve it. There were some language problems during the conversations with customers when they run the radiator business, but these problems didn’t have big influence. Once Wang called one customer and said that “your radiator is coming.” But Wang did not see anyone coming after two hours, so she called the customer again. Finally she found out that the customer thought Wang would send the product to him soon, but in fact Wang was telling the person that he should come and pick up the product himself. “You are the boss, so people will get used to you,” Wang says. “But I will work for others, so I need to improve my language first.”
Wang not only needs to improve her English, but also gain some office skills. The basic qualification for a data entry clerk is typing 70 words per minute. “I tried but I could only type like seven words,” Wang says. When she told the consular that she knew how to use the Peachtree, a kind of software she used as an accountant in her own company for 17 years, they sent her a link to have a test. “I failed,” Wang says. “There are so many functions that I have never touched before.” But Wang did not give up. She applied for the training program sponsored by the government to strengthen her language skills as well as office skills.
After Wang finishes the five months’ training, she will go to the recruitment market, send resumes and wait for interviews. “In the past 17 years, I worked very hard for myself, no one tells me whether I am doing things right or wrong,” Wang says. “Now my future boss will have the answer.”