International alumni share tips on U.S. job hunt
The job search is a daunting prospect for any recent graduate. But for international students, there are a few added challenges, such as building a network in the U.S. and navigating the work visa process.
No wonder a crowd of more than 55 Weatherhead School of Management students gathered on a Saturday morning in February to hear a panel of international alumni tell how they landed great jobs at prominent U.S. companies.
The speakers hailed from both coasts and points in between. The panel included:
- Nikhil Khanna, MBA ‘09, director of marketing, Saks Fifth Avenue (New York City, NY)
- Amit Awati, MBA ‘10, senior consultant, Deloitte (Los Angeles, CA)
- Fiona Gao, MSM-OR/SC ‘11, Capital One (Richmond, VA)
- Shuxin Zheng, MAcc ‘11, experienced associate, PWC (Baltimore, MD)
The Panelists' Advice
The panelists suggested ways of replicating their success in conducting a national job search; for example, attending national career fairs to gain exposure to companies that don’t come to recruiting events in Cleveland. They encouraged students who are offered a good internship in their home country to take it rather than opting for a less exciting position in the U.S. Companies look at the content of a candidate’s resume, they said, not where in the world the candidate completed his or her internship.
Cultural differences can come into play when seeking employment in a foreign country. Networking, for instance, is key to the job hunt in the U.S., but it is an uncommon practice in many other countries. In countries where hiring decisions are more exclusively merit-based, hiring a candidate with connections inside a company can look like cronyism. In the U.S., by contrast, the old saw claiming that “who you know is more important than what you know” can often seem accurate.
The alumni advised students to start their networking at school by making friends from outside their home countries, tempting though it may be to gravitate toward people with a common background. Because international graduate students have only two years to grow their network in the U.S., it’s important to start developing relationships early. After all, says Meenakshi Sharma, assistant dean of career and student affairs, “You don’t meet an alum and immediately get an internship at that person’s company. It’s a long process.”
After the panel discussion, students and panelists joined 20 more international alumni for a networking luncheon. One student attendee commented, “I sincerely hope one day that I can be the person that sits opposite to where I am now, to provide tips for new students at my best.”
Learn how Meenakshi Sharma and the Career Management Office help current students and alumni.