Easing the Employment Puzzle for International Students: An Interview with 2016 Post-Grad Fellows
One of the biggest challenges international students who study in the U.S. face is employment in the U.S. upon completing their degree. According to a recent GMAC Corporate Recruiter Survey, only 25% of U.S. companies have plans to hire and sponsor international workers this year. Reasons for this include the high legal costs associated with the visa sponsorship process and the limited number of H1B visas available.
In an effort to provide support to our international students, Babson’s Graduate Center for Career Development piloted a Post-Graduate Consulting Fellowship program in 2015. The purpose of the program is to give international graduates the opportunity to gain valuable U.S. work experience on a part-time, paid basis while continuing their full-time job search. Fellows utilize their OPT to begin working on these MBA-level projects with employers who are receptive to the idea that the fellow will be continuing their full-time search.
In 2016, four MBA graduates participated in the program and are consulting for small businesses or startups in technology, finance, manufacturing and retail. Panisa Tantikornphan (MBA’16) a Thai native working on a finance project for a local FinTech startup and Chandan Jha (MBA’16), a native of India, working on two post-graduate fellowships answer questions about the program, what they have learned on the job and why future international graduates should consider applying!
LA: What made you decide to apply for a post-graduate consulting fellowship?
Panisa: I wanted experience working in the U.S. and the post-graduate consulting fellowship provided consulting work experience.
Chandan: It helped me extend the 90 days unemployment OPT rule to find a job with a real life challenge. It’s also an opportunity to work in a startup environment with the CEO downwards which has helped me understand a company. I feel I have better visibility and sometimes more access to real challenges. I am also given the chance to understand startup culture and interact with people in a mid scale startup.
LA: What are you currently doing for your post-graduate consulting fellowship?
Panisa: I am conducting financial modeling, devising a customer acquisition strategy, and doing marketing analytics.
Chandan: I am helping a mid-scale education company optimize marketing campaigns by analyzing and remodeling call attribution and working on analytics of sales and advertisement campaigns essentially to save costs and get better returns from marketing. I am also working for a small business where I’m helping to redesign their CRM for a more optimized information flow. The work includes understanding different nodes of the organization’s structure by interviewing key executives, the processes they follow and the information challenges they currently have, and using that information to redesign a better CRM to manage leads, sales and customer information.
LA: How are you utilizing some of what you learned during the Babson MBA program?
Panisa: I am putting to use my experience with regression modelling, financial modelling and strategy.
Chandan: I am trying to take the decision makers into confidence and make them a part of my process along the way while we make progress on finding a solution that works for all. This would not have been possible without Michael May’s management consulting classes.
LA: What are you most excited about with regard to your consulting fellowship?
Panisa: The company is invested in my experience and wants me to get the most out of the program. They want to help build my resume.
Chandan: Frankly I love a startup environment much more because of the willingness to experiment, which presents many possible solutions. A normal job has many rules attached, where you are a small gear in the overall larger scheme of things. Making an actual difference is something that excites me about this fellowship.
LA: What surprised you the most about your company/project?
Chandan: The project usually is not a simple one liner job description that can be stated on paper. Rather, it involves multiple dimensions, people, software, locations and involves coming up with solutions that have not been found before.
LA: What would you advise future Graduate Consulting Fellows to do or to consider when thinking about participating in a consulting fellowship?
Panisa: Do your best. What we learned from Babson definitely can add value to the company. I highly recommend this program to the next year grads because they will learn a lot about work cultures, nature of business for startups and can apply the what they learned in the classroom to real work experience.
Chandan: Most of the time, projects will not really relate to you and it may feel that this is not the one for you. Most of us are perfectionists looking out for that perfect project. I would suggest to just go ahead and pick up something that you find remotely interesting. Since you maybe working with the CEO during a post-graduate consulting fellowship, the CEO faces multiple challenges and the project could have even changed by the time you applied. It is also very likely the job might be altered in light of your skillsets. Consulting with top management is an exhilarating experience and you should definitely take up this opportunity. If you are lucky, you might even land a job.
The application cycle for 2017 Post-Grad Consulting Fellowships will open during the late spring semester 2017. Feel free to contact Lily Awad for more details.