Rent a White Guy

By Me-Linh Riemann

Graduated? White? Male? Here’s a career path you never would have thought of…

As a third year student, many people have asked me lately what I am going to do after my bachelor. And as much as I try to avoid that question (given that I have no clue), there is no escape from the inevitable: one day, sooner or later, we will all have to leave our cozy Maastricht student bubble and enter a scary thing – called real life.



The question that comes up is what to do? Doing a master right away? Travel the world? Do internships? Or try to find a job?

The last option might be a bit tricky. Although the Maastricht University brochures and advertisements promise us “excellent job opportunities”, companies are not exactly fighting over recent bachelor graduates with little or no working experience. Many will find their hopes and dreams of an international career crushed, as the first rejection letters arrive.

However, there is hope – especially for the faired skinned among us!

In China, there has been a recent trend to hire Westerners as fake employees or business partners. This is to create the impression that a company has money, prestige and crucial connections to businesses abroad. Zhang Haihua, the author of “Think Like the Chinese” argues, “Face, [as] we say in China, is more important than life itself. Since Western countries are… [more] developed, people think they are better off [than people in China]…people think that if a company can hire foreigners, it must have a lot of money and have important connections overseas. So when they really want to impress someone, they may roll out a foreigner.”

The job requirements are surprisingly simple: be white, preferably male, wear a suit and do not say anything unless you are asked to do so. Your mere presence is supposed to give the company more credibility in front of business partners and clients.

When I first read about this phenomenon, it somehow made me think of a toy I once had when I was a kid. When I first saw this doll in a store, it was love at first sight and I knew that I had to make her mine. My mum, however, not a big fan of made-in-China products, refused to buy it.  I then felt forced to rob my piggy bank and buy the doll by myself. I was really excited about my purchase… until her head fell off the first time I took her out of the box. Given that I had just invested my entire fortune in this toy, I felt incredibly betrayed.

In a strange and twisted way, I think that the Chinese companies, which hire white guys to impress others, are doing exactly the same. They are selling real-life dolls with blue eyes and blond hair to their costumers and business partners, who are enchanted – until the awkward moment of truth when the alleged CEO of a multi-million business turns out to be a random dude, just trying to figure out what to do with his life after college.

Mê-Linh Riemann

Picture courtesy of


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