Profiles of Graduates from AIS Master's Programmes

Name: ACHTHOVEN Mirjam
Programme: Master of Arts in Asian and International Studies
Cohort: 2011
Current job: Senior Executive at Edelman Public Relations, Hong Kong

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

Working with professors and students from all over the world was a great learning experience. Coming from Europe, the programme opened my eyes to Asia's role in International Relations.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

The topics discussed in the AIS programme are more relevant than ever in this day and age. Make sure you stay up-to-date about the latest developments in International Relations in Asia by following the news closely, joining discussions with your professors, and getting experience in the field through volunteering or working at organizations outside of the university. For example, I volunteered at the Dutch Consulate General to get a sense of what working in International Relations is like in practice.
Name: CHAN Wai San, Edith
Programme: Master of Arts in Asian and International Studies
Cohort: 2011
Current job: I have worked in policy and advocacy at Oxfam (my current job) and the British Consulate-General (my former job) on issues related to climate, energy security and development finance.

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

I took the MA Asian and International Studies as I wanted to develop more understanding of the Asian context that was relevant to my work but was lacking from my environmental background. I was amazed at the depth of insight and analysis on contemporary politics from the faculty - many of them are experts on Asia it was rewarding to work through country analyses to not only test theories and concepts but understand situations in real life. The programme constantly exposed students to debates on current and practical issues, be it socio-economical, environmental or governance, topics that are highly related to my work.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

The discussions and case studies mean students are bound to learn as much as they are prepared to! AIS teaching staff are welcoming; do engage with them wisely and enjoy your study at AIS.
Name: DE SILVA Suren Mark
Programme: Master of Social Science in Development Studies
Cohort: 2012
Current job: Assistant Manager, Policy Research and ESG Advisory, Business Environment Council

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

What stands out were the insightful debates and discussions that we had in class. The lecture and discussion would finish yet my mind would still be racing, analysing and going over everything that was said and discussed on into the next day.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

Be willing to participate! What made the programme for me was the cohort of students who came from across China, South East Asia, and Europe. Each one brought with them a unique perspective and experience from their own respective fields – it was fascinating to hear about their experiences and the realities of the many theories that we discussed in practice.
Name: EI Thant Khing
Programme: Master of Social Sciences in Development Studies
Cohort: 2013
Current job: Programme Manager, Department for International Development, British Embassy, Myanmar

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

Studying at AIS in CityU has been one of the most transformational experiences of my personal and professional life. I learned a lot from my peers from different countries and count many of them as close friends.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

I had opportunity to take different courses such as International Development Theory and Practice, Development Policy and Advocacy, Gender and Development which empowered me to continue working in humanitarian and development programmes in Myanmar. What I learned at CityU helped me to contribute to the development of my country in terms of practical application to address specific development problems in a range of settings. Take every opportunity to learn, share and challenge yourself to make the best use of your time in CityU.
Name: GUO Hui
Programme: Master of Arts in Modern Asian Studies
Cohort: 2014
Current job: PhD student, Department of Government and International Relations, The University of Sydney
New Oriental Education and Technology Group (Tianjin School), The Department of Overseas Test Centre, TOEFL teacher

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

Before I came to Hong Kong, I had no experience in International Relations. Guided by my professors, I learned new knowledge, developed an interest in foreign aid and designed my own research projects in the comparative study of foreign aid. The courses, especially the methodology course, provided provided a key foundation in my intellectual development. Professor Mark Thompson, and Drs. Federico Ferrara, Nick Thomas and Brad Williams served as mentors as I made the decision to pursue postdoctoral studies and I am now building on the knowledge I gained at CityU as a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. There is an old saying in China that “he who teaches me for one day is my teacher for life”. I am very grateful for what I learned in studying Modern Asian Studies at CityU.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

AIS is an excellent choice to commit yourselves to study with high quality education and abundant resources. A Master's degree at AIS offers you a platform to then make an informed choice about your career.
Name: LIU Mingtang
Programme: Master of Arts in International Studies
Cohort: 2014
Current job: Research Associate at City University of Hong Kong

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

AIS is a place where different ideas and disciplines collide. The courses I selected range from social sciences to humanities, mainstreams to critical theories. Under the open academic environment, we were exposed to multiple realities of the world and different ways of thinking. And more importantly, I’ve met many interesting professors and students here, from whom I’ve learned and benefited a lot. And by the way, AIS is a highly international department, especially in terms of its teaching staffs, which I think will undoubtedly broaden your horizon.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

If you keep a curious and open mind, and work really hard, then your experience in AIS may change your life.
Name: SIU Mei Kuen Kanie
Programme: Master of Social Sciences in Development Studies
Cohort: 2008
Current job: Chief Executive Officer, Plan International Hong Kong

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

The course contents, the professionalism of the teachers as well as the diversity of the cohorts are the major aspects of the programme that I appreciated. As AIS students, we are equipped with better theoretical and practical knowledge related to the development world. The programme that I studied is of limited provision in the institutions in Hong Kong.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

The professors are all experts in their fields. Students can get the most out of the lectures by asking in-depth questions. The professors will be able to explain the issues thoroughly and illustrate them with abundant examples in tandem with rich personal experience. In addition, students can also request if the professors could arrange field trips with them. They can learn a lot from the trip experience.
Name: TAN Hian Hui Cheryl
Programme: Master of Arts in Asian and International Studies
Cohort: 2011
Current job: Deputy Director (ASEAN), Singapore Institute of International Affairs

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

I had a wonderful time pursuing my Masters at City University of Hong Kong. The professors were very approachable and encouraged me to stay curious and ask questions about the world's politics. This helped to deepen my interest in international affairs and to pursue a career in the field.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

Rapid changes are taking place in global politics and security. It is an exciting time for those in the field of international affairs, and the things that once existed only in textbooks are coming alive. Stay curious, ask a lot of questions, and there will never be a dull moment.
Name: TANG-Lee Diane
Programme: Master of Social Science in Development Studies
Cohort: 2011
Current job: Senior Program Officer, International Council on Mining and Metals; prior position: PhD student at Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

The program attracts international students and people with experience in many different fields including development, which make class discussions and interactions lively and interesting. It gave me fresh perspectives on many development issues that were important for shaping my subsequent doctoral research and career.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

It's a cliché, but do keep an open mind, be curious and ready to absorb any new knowledge – you never know when it will become useful. There was a course at MSSDS that I thought was not very relevant to the development topics I was interested in, but the concepts and theories from that course turned out to be fundamental for my PhD thesis.
Name: ZHOU Yang Johnny
Programme: Master of Arts in International Studies
Cohort: 2015
Current job: Civil Servant of Liaoning Province, China

Memory of AIS/ quote on learning experience:

The tuition we paid did not only buy us a diploma, but the access to academic database, the rights of using campus facilities and the qualification to participate in university activities. When racking your brain on your thesis, trust me, the library has more accurate and reliable information than Wikipedia. As well as other departments, AIS organizes many activities every year: inviting prominent scholars to deliver a speech, calling students to experience Japanese tea culture, and holding international academic conference. Taking part in these events can enrich your campus life.

Advice for current/ prospective Master's students:

Hong Kong is an international city where celebrities and thoughts come together. As a CityU student, you have chances to talk to Nobel Prize winner, foreign heads of states, masters of arts and other great names who have worldwide influence. AIS has a good relationship with Asia Society of Hong Kong, an organization which often invites celebrities to give speeches. Through AIS, students can secure free tickets of many events and have a face-to-face conversation with those giants.
Career Promotion
After graduation, whether you want to continue your studies or start working, the reputation of CityU is strong. CityU ranks among the best in Hong Kong employer feedback. For mandarin students, quite a lot of my classmates find a job in mainland China with a good salary (>10,000 rmb per month). Many of their competitors were graduates from Tsinghua and Peking University and other top universities in China. In addition, overseas study experience will benefit your future career.
Other tips:
  • For mandarin students, it is much easier to apply for a foreign visa in Hong Kong than in mainland China. Go to see the world during semester break and holidays.
  • If you want to find a job, the first 3-6 months after graduation are very important because many companies want fresh graduates who have no working experience. The management trainee program of big companies usually have a good pay.
  • AIS always tell us to think critically. Critical thinking does not only apply to theses, but to our daily life. We live in a time full of rumours and hearsay. Maintaining your judgement in all kinds of media reports and trying to do your own research. Do not follow the path, make your own trail.
“Taking life seriously” is the motto of AIS instructor Dr Sean Starrs. I want to share it with you. Taking your life seriously, but not yourself: Do not skimp on your talents and efforts, try as hard as you can.

Good luck and best wishes for everyone!