First off, congratulations! You’ve accomplished a great milestone in life, and I am so proud of you. It’s hard studying abroad. After spending all the time studying and staying competitive among your peers, you still have to face an even more brutal challenge: finding a job and staying in the States.
Nobody is saying it will be easy, and you have to be prepared to encounter many obstacles and roadblocks before landing a job.
But you will find hope, gain experience, and meet a few people who are willing to help you out along the way. Here are four pieces of advice I’d like to share with you based on my own experience.
1. Mind cultural differences & have the right expectation:
It’s common to rely on our parents’ network or your alumni to get a job in Taiwan. Even though networking and building connections are still crucial for career establishment, in the States people tend to be on their own, especially for their first jobs. Most of their first job experiences come from working at retail stores or fast food chains in their high school years. So when they graduate from college, lots of them tend to be better at selling themselves than someone who has zero experience. As an international student, you need to take extra steps to make things happen. No one is obligated to help, so you have to adjust your expectation and learn from experiences.
2. Be genuinely curious about people:
What can you talk about when networking with people? In my opinion, genuine curiosity about others’ backgrounds (not just what they do at their jobs) is the best and only way to start. Developing professional relationships also takes time, so make sure you don’t ask someone you just meet the first time to bend over backwards to do you a favor.
3. Be respectful:
The reality is: the majority of people you reach out to won’t respond at all, no matter how many times you try. But once in a while, there will be someone who is willing to spend a few minutes to point you in the right direction. Show your gratitude by respecting their time and efforts.
4. Don’t give up:
When I graduated about 5 years ago, I submitted 300+ resumes and attempted uncountable times meeting with my mentors and alumni just to get a better idea about the job market. In the end, I didn’t get my job through networking, but through a Monster.com job listing with a company that I’d never heard of. I am urging you to be patient. Try again (and again), and don’t give up. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” (Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Remark)
Good luck. I have full confidence that you will soon find what you’re passionate about.