Fresh Off the Boat
This post was written by Peer Career Ambassador, Swapnika Yarlagadda ’19.
I came into Babson with a full-fledged 8 year plan.
If you can’t tell by now, I really like to plan everything in my life ahead of time. A year ago, I thought my 8 year plan was solid and unbeatable. All I had to do was find opportunities along the way and make the most of them. One year into college, I still like to think that I have the capacity to precisely follow this timeline. My ambitions and career expectations haven’t changed as much, but my awareness of job opportunities I can seek out as an international student has.
As a first year student, I knew that the number of internships I could apply to were limited. But what I didn’t expect was that my internship search would always start with about 30 opportunities and narrow down to 5 – not because I was only interested in them, but because they were the only ones open to international students. That’s when I realized that if I really wanted an internship, I had to make an extra effort. I applied to almost every internship, externship, career center workshop etc. that would pop up on my Career Connections account. I would frequently visit the CCD and meet with various advisers to obtain a feel of each industry. However, despite all this external support, my chances of getting a summer internship (in my freshman year summer) continued to dwindle.
After many unsuccessful applications, I was almost ready to book my flight back home and work for my dad’s business over the summer. Oddly, that is when I heard back from the last internship I applied to. And saying that it was my best work experience as to date would be an understatement.
To every international student just about embark on their internship search journey:
- Do not let your visa status dictate your mindset in approaching career opportunities in the US. Sometimes it’s all about persistence and using the right resources.
- Utilize career connections as a guide to explore opportunities but do not limit yourself.
- Understand that your needs and requirements as an international student are different from your peers, and try to prepare yourself for that from the very beginning. There is a career adviser in the CCD, Emily Besen, dedicated to supporting international students and the Glavin Office can assist with immigration specific processes.
- Expand your search by using online resources such as indeed.com, look sharp and going global.
- Networking might first seem awkward and superficial but you will never reach a level of comfort if you do not try. Try to leverage your connections by indulging in career related conversations with them. Start with family and slowly venture into your external social circles. People are more willing to help than you would imagine.
- Most of all, please don’t make excuses for yourself. There have been numerous instances when I told myself that I was just pouring my time and energy into something with no foreseeable results. That’s not true. Even if I didn’t get offers from every internship I applied to, I at least learned how to market my skill set to employers. All the effort I put into my internship search process last year has paid off in the form of higher levels of confidence and ease of applying this year.
Remember that there is always going to be an opportunity – the path to get to it might not be the easiest, but the experience of cracking it is definitely rewarding.
Upcoming Event: International Alumni Panel
Network with international student alumni currently working in the Boston area. Learn U.S. job search tips and gain insight on companies and industries hiring international students. Light refreshments from alum owned business, Thai Moon, will be served. Wednesday, Nov 9 / 5:30-7pm / Needham-Wellesley / RSVP in Career Connections.