Fortress Besieged: New Graduates flow out of and into Internet Company

A young girl working for Internet company Pinduoduo died suddenly due to too much work intensity. Why did many new graduates choose to join the Internet education industry after graduation?

On October 8, 2020, an employee of the e-commerce platform Pinduoduo posted the news: Pinduoduo started the “Hardcore mode”: the lunch break get cut in half, all the employees had to work 300 hours a month, which is equivalent to working six days a week and 11.5 hours a day. As soon as this “Hardcore model” was released, everyone in the Internet field talked about this, accusing Pinduoduo of having no humanity left inside this company. Furthermore, people also say that Pinduoduo will reflect deeply until many cases of sudden cardiac death happen.

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Wu Di was a junior student when he heard about this shocking news. He decided to work directly after he got his bachelor ‘s degree. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he heard that many companies had to lay off and cut salaries, but most Internet companies were booming. After asking several seniors, he plans to apply for Internet companies. “Working at an Internet company like Pinduoduo is under great pressure, but I can make great progress in a very short time. I am only 21 years old. I would still make sure I try to give my best effort in my younger age.” In the second semester of junior year and after multiple iterations, Wu Di got an internship at a head Internet company during the summer vacation.

At 1:30 a.m. on December 29, 2020, something worried happened: a female employee of Pinduoduo suddenly fainted on the way home from work. Her colleagues sent her to hospital, but she died after rescue. The female employee who passed away was born in 1998, and she was only 22 years old and was about to get married.

Young lives are gone, and the overwhelming work pressure Chinese Internet companies have been reported successively by various newspapers, and it also silently affects the choices of fresh graduates.

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According to “Talent Attraction Report 2020” released by Maimai, a workplace communication platform, the Internet remains the most popular industry. However, the two areas with the lowest satisfaction among Internet employees are pressure and workload.

The top Internet companies have become dream companies for many 211 and 985 fresh graduates. Wang is a new graduate, he said, “The salary package of the Internet company is much better than that of traditional enterprises. For example, the annual salary offered by top Internet companies is 300,000 yuan(3,400 pounds), while the state-owned enterprises in the same city can only offer me 150,000 yuan (1,700 pounds).” From the perspective of the remuneration package, the attractiveness of Internet companies is much higher than that of traditional enterprises.

However, the Internet industry is not a charity organization. It is an arena where efficiency is the priority. Issues such as “Neijuan”(a rat race), 996 work culture(where people work 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week), workplace PUA, and 35-year-old risk of losing job have become the “curse” that young people cannot avoid in Internet companies. If we compare the hourly salary of Internet companies and the state-owned enterprises, Internet companies don’t have an advantage.

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For example, if the Internet company has an annual salary of 300,000 yuan(3,400 pounds), only one day off in a week, 12 hours a day, then the hourly salary is 79 yuan(8.87 pounds); a state-owned enterprise has an annual salary of 150,000 (1,700 pounds), two days off per week, 7 hours of work per day, the hourly salary is 81 yuan(9.10 pounds) hourly salary. In this way, the salary is actually not very much compared with state-owned enterprises. Moreover, the health problems caused by overtime should not be underestimated.

Moreover, the instability of the China Internet companies is becoming more and more obvious. Companies such as Keep, Little Red Book and Soul have cancelled plans to go to the United States for IPOs. Many star start-ups have also closed down. For example, the “Shared Wardrobe” company “Yi Er San”, which has completed six financing rounds, has officially announced its closure.

Chinese companies are easily affected by government policy, especially for fast-growing Internet companies. On the evening of July 24, 2021, the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council issued the “Opinions on Further Reducing the Burden of Compulsory Education Students’ Homework and Off-campus Training” (“Double Reduction”).

According to “Double Reduction”, existing course training institutions are uniformly registered as non-profit institutions; off-campus training institutions shall not occupy national statutory holidays, weekends and winter and summer vacations. As soon as this policy came out, it basically shut down all online K12 education businesses.

In the past year, the surge of capital stirred in online education industry concern government officials. According to the statistics from iResearch, the market size of Chinese online education industry had reached 485.8 billion yuan(54.6 billion pounds) in 2020, and a total of 103.4 billion yuan(12 billion pounds) had been transferred to the online education industry, and 80% of them went to the top five online internet companies. Education is too far off track, and the Chinese government has start to take control.

Two weeks after the “double reduction” policy was introduced, the largest layoff in education and training institutions in history has begun. The media reported that Zuoyebang, Tomorrow Advancing Life, VIPKID, GAOTU, etc., are undergoing large-scale layoffs.


Two weeks after the “double reduction” policy was introduced, the largest layoff in education and training institutions in history has begun. The media reported that Zuoyebang, Tomorrow Advancing Life, VIPKID, GAOTU, etc., are undergoing large-scale layoffs.

After the “double reduction” policy, some young people tended to go to state-owned enterprises. Young people started to resist taking risks. A stable job has become a dream job of many young people who have experienced the great shock of the Internet.

State-owned companies and public institutions that new graduates used to look down on in the past have now become “Safe places”. At least employees can leave the office on time, and the most important thing is that they will not be as deeply affected by policies as Internet companies.

According to the National Civil Service Website, 1.576 million people signed up for the National Examination in 2021, and it has been the largest number of applicants in the past three years.

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When working as an intern at an Internet company, Wu Di envied the civil servant friend who could leave work early. 2021, Wu Di Li was admitted to a civil servant position in a first-tier city, and her salary is even higher than that of fresh graduates who have just joined the Internet company.

Job seekers began to prioritize the company atmosphere and working hours. “Although the salary of Internet company is relatively high, when looking for a job, you will be more concerned about working hours.” Wu Di believes that if a company has a lot of late nights, she will doubt whether the company’s corporate culture is problematic.

To some extent, young people nowadays become more rational in their job hunting and no longer blindly chase Internet companies. This tendency may be a good thing, because more people are beginning to know what they really want.

Some people were worried that they would be unemployed in their 30s, so they fled from the Internet companies and spent a lot of money on civil service exam training fees. All they want is nothing more than one word: stability.

Especially in 2020, companies are hiring less, but the number of fresh graduates has increased. According to the “2020 Fresh Graduates Spring Recruitment Job Application Report” published by the Liepin Big Data Research Institute, 38.73% of fresh graduates choose to take the civil service examination.

The income of state-owned companies and institutions is gradually higher than private enterprises. In Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and other economically developed areas, work in state-owned enterprises have become very popular. The annual salary can reach 300,000 to 500,000 yuan and many graduates of Tsinghua University also work there.

The teaching profession, which used to be a lower-paying career, now has a decent salary. At the beginning of 2020, China has issued “Implementation Opinions on Comprehensively Deepening the Reform of Teacher Team Building in the New Era”. Hangzhou City has clarified that when the district and county (city) governments issue civil servant bonus policies, they must consider primary and secondary school teachers at the same time. The average salary income of teachers is higher than the average salary income of civil servants.

In Zhihu(Chinese Internet high-quality content community),one question is “Why are so many people taking the civil service exam?” Some people answer: ” I found out that I had more time, and I picked up my interest. I don’t worry about working over time, I don’t worry about being fired.”

Once we were unwilling to be “Mediocre” and “safety”. But as you grow up, you realize that you must either work very hard or be very smart to barely live that kind of “Mediocre” life.

In this way, switching from the Internet company to becoming a civil servant is also a natural choice.