Jingjing Zhang, assistant professor of operations and decision technologies, Kelley School of Business (right); Ge Yan, information technology, Kelley School of Business
Jingjing & Ge
It didn’t take long for Jingjing Zhang, Ge Yan, and their young son Han to feel at home in Bloomington.
Coming to IU was an easy choice for Jingjing. Kelley is a leading school in her area of expertise, and with the faculty in her department very active in research, she saw lots of opportunities for collaboration and career development. She also found her department “very collegial” from her earliest contact with them. It was just “the kind of culture I’m looking for,” she says.
The same day Jingjing received a job offer from Kelley, her department chair called Ge to talk about how the school could help with his job search. Kelley put him in touch with the Dual Career Network, who discussed his preferences and concerns, then provided a list of positions that fit Ge’s expertise and interests. They coached Ge through the search process, facilitating communication with campus units with openings in Ge’s field. After interviews, they followed up with the hiring units on Ge’s behalf.
It was a great relief to Ge. He was leaving a job he’d held for five years to follow Jingjing, who had just completed her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. Once he saw all the support marshaled on his behalf, he stopped worrying. “There’s a team of people and my job hunting is on their agenda,” Ge realized. Ge found a position as a senior support data analyst in the IU Office of Research Administration, and eventually took a position in information technology at Kelley.
Once here, Ge and Jingjing began to appreciate the social cohesiveness of their respective departments. Jingjing and her colleagues often lunch together and gather regularly outside of work to socialize. Ge’s colleagues are also a close-knit group.
The city of Bloomington had a strong influence in their decision to relocate to Indiana. “In China my home town is actually about the same size,” says Jingjing; “I’m very comfortable with Bloomington.” The couple enjoys the city’s varied restaurants, as well as IU’s arts offerings, especially the opera, cinema, and IU Auditorium events.
And then there’s basketball. Many newcomers to the area are aware of IU’s men’s program; Jingjing and Ge are also big NBA fans. The league is very popular in China, and the two have followed the 76ers, Timberwolves, and now the Pacers.
Their son Han has adjusted well to small city life. “This is a great town for kids to grow up in,” says Ge. They regularly take Han to auditorium shows like “The Grinch”—which are much more affordable and accessible than in a large city—and visit the children’s science museum, Wonderlab, almost every weekend. Han’s become fond of visiting horse farms and riding ponies. The Farmer’s Market is a family favorite.
Of Ge’s search, and their relocation generally, the two agree on the best advice for dual career couples like themselves: “start early.” Take advantage of help as soon as it’s offered and connect with community resources like childcare early, they recommend. Ge checked out preschools and primary schools on their first visit, and the two started looking for a place to live, with the assistance of contacts IU helped establish, on that same visit.
All of that effort paid off, helping Jingjing, Ge, and Han to integrate quickly into campus and community life. Ge sums up their experience, both at IU and in Bloomington: “It’s like a big family, and you’re part of it.”