NYU Alumni Club in South China: Ziang “Jack” Xu (CAS ’15) [he/him]
June 15, 2021
“NYU also has such a strong global presence, you find community no matter where you land,” says Ziang “Jack” Xu (CAS ’15) [he/him], a member of the NYU Alumni Club in South China. As an undergraduate, Jack studied away at NYU Shanghai where he attended a dinner hosted by the NYU Alumni Association—little did he know that was the start of his journey with the alumni community. Happy hours, special dinners, career networking, and much more, read how the NYU Alumni Association has fostered connection and community across the world.
How was your experience shifting from student life to alumni life? How did you find community?
The transition into alumni/volunteer life came naturally. During school, I was on the NYU Student Activities Board and served as president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA). I already had a hand in extracurricular NYU matters such as the formation and suspension of student clubs, or the creation of a welcoming environment for my fellow Chinese international students through CSSA. Having witnessed the many accomplishments of our student clubs, the beautiful friendships formed, and career aspirations achieved, it just made sense for me to continue connecting students and alumni together post-graduation.
I highly encourage the graduating class to contact the NYU alumni office for more information on alumni clubs around the world. Additionally, I know of many alumni who were able to find their community simply through word of mouth.
What inspired you to get involved with the NYU alumni network?
Definitely the people. When I think about it, the people I met through NYU, peers or otherwise, are the ones who made my NYC life so memorable. Many of the life-long friends I have, the partners I founded new ventures with, and so on, are people from NYU.
I wanted to continue being involved with the alumni network post-graduation to continue meeting these amazing people; some of my best friends today are alumni who I barely knew during my time on campus.
How has being an alumni club member shaped your life after graduation?
Due to the nature of working at a start-up, my work-life balance can be unpredictable at times. But as an alumni club member, I have a consistent schedule of events to attend or things to organize. I have the opportunity to constantly meet new people at events organized by our club, which gave me a constant in a world of variables.
How has being an alumni club member kept you connected to NYU?
Staying connected gives continued meaning to our precious four years at NYU. Club members and alumni get to share the most recent news about NYU together. We get to go to NYU happy hours and share meat and Moutai together, or mourn the closing of our favorite restaurants in NYC. As an example, in the NYU South China Club alone, we have a group of 700+ (and growing) members regularly contributing to and participating in events; I know this dedication and NYU community sense is just as strong in the other clubs scattered across the world.
What is your favorite memory with your alumni club?
I was one of the first classes of the Liberal Studies Program and studied away at NYU Shanghai in 2011. In 2019, the Chancellor of NYU Shanghai, Yu Lizhong, arrived in Shenzhen to introduce the NYU Shanghai master in finance programs. The NYU Alumni Club hosted the talk. I had the unique opportunity to have dinner with the Chancellor and learn about his years dedicated to the China-US education partnership and navigating policies to get things done. How a NYU program at East China Normal University evolved into a global campus that is NYU Shanghai. He also shared a tale or two about President [Emeritus] John Sexton and his visits to China. That was one of my favorite memories.
What has been your favorite alumni club event?
The NYU Alumni Club in South China has a tradition of organizing Thanksgiving dinners. Thanksgiving isn't observed by the Chinese calendar, so being able to enjoy a turkey feast in China is a very rare opportunity. In light of this, each year our club books a hotel with amazing chefs who can prepare a feast with turkeys and we invite alumni to join a family style gathering. The turnout has been incredible, to the point where we’ve recently begun having trouble finding venues big enough to fit all the alumni and their family and friends!
What advice would you give to new graduates?
We often regret not doing something instead of just doing it. So please show up at your alumni events, job interviews, and other engagements that could open doors that you don’t even know. Ninety percent of success in life is just showing up.
What was the first NYU alumni club event you took part in?
I started inviting professional NYU alumni back to campus to coach and mentor juniors and seniors in Kimmel Center classrooms before I graduated and became an alumnus myself. I have always been a person who makes events happen rather than a person who attends and there is a sense of fulfillment in that.
What are you looking forward to with your club this year?
We have hosted a couple of career-oriented events throughout the years in South China, mainly finance and investment related. Chinese alumni do have an extremely strong presence in the Chinese finance market. But as an entrepreneur in the field of software, I am trying to put together an event that is focused on technology and entrepreneurship, especially within emerging markets. For those of you who are interested in organizing or attending, please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are also organizing bi-weekly happy hours on Friday nights with alumni clubs from the west coast, so far turnout for each cocktail party is around 400 (we all love a good cocktail). I’m definitely looking forward to those.