The journey to a job as an international student
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In August 2019, I took a plane from Taiwan to Chicago and then got on a bus to UIUC. It was two years ago, but all memory is still vivid in my mind. At that moment, I realized that my master’s program only had three semesters, that is, I would face the pressure of looking for a job one year later. I was worried about finding a job before school started. (I’m a nervous person, I prefer to be fully prepared before doing).
In the first few weeks of the new semester, there was a QUAD DAY event on campus, held every fall semester. Many student organizations and clubs have their own booth, introducing what they are doing to new students (also providing all kinds of free stuff and free food).
After Quad day, I listed out some clubs I was interested in and then participated in the info session of these associations.
I understood that my workload was very high in the first semester, however, I would like to gain more practical experience. Moreover, I am an introverted person and usually don’t talk much, so I told myself to take some challenges and get out of my comfort zone. It’s exciting but also nervous.
Therefore, I joined the ICON, a student organization of consulting, the first semester. And in my second semester, I went through two stages of application and joined Illinois Business Consulting (IBC).
Why had I decided to join similar student organizations in my master's life? I would like to have more communication with other students from different departments and learn different perspectives and the way of thinking from them too. After all, this was very different from communicating with people in the same group.
In April 2020, the graduation is almost there, with only 4 months left. I became more intense, worried about whether to find a job or not. If failed, I had to pack my luggage and went back to Taiwan. During these months, I was focusing on job searching rather than schoolwork and utilized school resources before graduation. I went to the writing center and booked a time with the professional. She helped me to improve my cover letter and gave me some suggestions on how to being a good storyteller. I also went to the career center and HR students helped me polish the resume. I participated in some social activities, listening to the sharing of career development from seniors.
Key resource: library, writing center, career center …. and good partners
At the same time, I received the rejection letters as many as you can imagine. The feeling was very discouraged, and I somehow doubted my personal value seriously. Of course, there were also some interview opportunities happening. In some interview conversations with HR team, I almost knew that there is nothing in the next round during the talking. In other conversations, I thought the talk was good and smooth overall, but there was no follow up unfortunately after a while. Much frustration was adding to my mind. I kept telling myself that I can definitely get a job, just like following the law of attraction.
Someday, I suddenly received a call when taking graduation photos with my classmates on campus. Oh my god, I got an oral offer from that call! I felt unbelievable and can’t say any words at that moment. I finally got my first full-time job in the United States before graduation, and I have been working on it for more than a year so far.
The above is my journey of part of life. I want to share some tips for job search:
- During school, do some time management and participate in the clubs/student organizations that you are interested in, having some experience and building up your network.
- Remember to think about it when participating in these associations — **What would you learn from this experience? What was the result you have/achieve? **(You can write down those content to cover letter or Linkedin later)
- Utilized school resources from different departments and go to the activities held by the career center.
- In the career center, some of them are Ph.D./master students majoring in HR. You can ask them for suggestions as much as you can and don’t be shy. Try to do more mock interviews as well. You will be super nervous in the real interview and the interviewer probably can tell you are not in a good situation if you turn not to practice interview.
- Of course, you can practice with friends or classmates to figure out the pros and cons of each other. You mirror them and they mirror you.
- During the job hunting, even if spreading out your resume to many corporates, you must record your job-hunting process (I use a spreadsheet to record). After the data is collected, you can observe some patterns, such as a certain industry has high demand of human resources, the name of a certain position is often used, and/or some common keywords, and then you can add it to resume to increase the acceptance of the application.
- Remember to reply. Regardless of the attitude of the company or HR, suggest replying a message to HR, even it’s short within a day after the interview. Be polite. :)
This is an opening, and I would like to share more details and/or different topics in the future.
Feel free to communicate together and wish everyone a great job search!
By the way, my side project, Jobbly, is (slowly) in progress. It is a tool that makes it easier for international students to find jobs.
It is still under development, stay tuned :) https://www.facebook.com/jobbly.io