Name: Alfredo Baudet
Major: Finance and minors in Economics and Management
Languages: Spanish, English, and French
Incoming FSR Associate at PwC
Job Hunting Tips for International Students
I must admit that when I started as a student at USD I had no idea what I was going to study or what I wanted to do after finishing school. While studying at USD I gained an appreciation for all the opportunities the U.S. has to offer, especially when compared to Venezuela, where the economic situation is rapidly deteriorating. With senior year approaching, I decided I wanted to stay in the U.S. The next step was to find a job.
Choosing your career
Finding a job can be a daunting task. Some common questions are: “What do I want to do after graduation?”; “How do I know I will love what I will be doing?”; “What are my options and which is the best one?”
The first step in choosing a career path is to do research by asking others to help you and by discovering what you are passionate about.
Find out what people in your field of choice majored in. For some fields, your undergraduate major is critical while for others, a variety of majors may be suitable. Reach out to people that you, your family, or friends, know that work in your desired field. See if they are available to meet or if they are willing to offer advice over the phone, Skype, email, etc. Professors are good resources as well so don’t hesitate to ask them whether they know people who work in the industry you are interested in, or if they have any recommendations for your career search.
Asking others for advice should be complemented by your own search to discover your interests. During the semester get actively involved in clubs that are outside your comfort zone and test your boundaries. I also recommend students do something productive during the summer sessions such as taking classes, interning/working, or volunteering – trying different things will help you determine what you like as well as what you don’t like.
These are all very valuable recommendations that students hear throughout their years in college. I can attest to how useful these recommendations are because following them helped me find the job I wanted in the U.S. Each student’s experiences are unique. Bearing that in mind I will outline my college experience with the addition of a few helpful tips for future job seekers, specifically international students.
From experience, I suggest international students who are trying to find what they’re passionate about and what sort of career to pursue to follow this strategy: be active in extracurricular activities, excel academically, and have fun doing so.
I tested my boundaries when I first went rock climbing my freshman year. One of my floormates invited me to go, and despite being a little nervous at first, I ended up loving it. The Climbing Club showed me how much fun student organizations could be, and I ended up joining a wide variety of other clubs, such as the International Student Organization, Entrepreneurship Club, and Student Finance Association. Through these clubs and organizations, I got exposed to a lot of different activities and also got to meet a wide range of people. Both, the exposure I gained and the people I met, were immensely valuable as they helped me learn more about myself and to determine what kinds of things I liked – maybe you like outdoor activities, organizing events, or perhaps even telling others what to do (otherwise known as delegating).
Involvement in these organizations can make for very busy semesters, but it is important that your academic performance remain strong. Becoming aware of your interests while excelling academically will help you become an attractive candidate for any company.
What employers look for
Having an active presence in extracurricular activities and an excellent academic record is important because when a recruiter looks at a student’s resume they know that students don’t have the skills necessary to perform the job. Instead, recruiters look for indications as to how well they could learn them.
Being involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, and volunteering indicates ability to multi-task. Taking this a little further, being someone with greater responsibility in these activities also help demonstrate leadership and collaboration. A strong academic performance, as gauged by the GPA, is a good indicator of being able to learn and synthesize new information.
In the end, the recruiter also wants to see if they could work with the interviewee. Putting all of this into a resume makes you more likely to stand out when applying to jobs.
The sponsorship process
As the resume is being built, be aware of the numerous challenges ahead. The main challenge for international students is to find a job that is willing to sponsor them, which comes in addition to the challenges faced by local students when finding jobs. The challenges that you face when searching for jobs in the U.S. can all be overcome by knowing as much as you can about the application process and by knowing how to make the best use of your resources. But before getting into these let’s look at some basic Optional Practical Training (OPT) information.
The best way to make this search easier is to become as much an expert in the field as possible. Talk to the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) at USD, reach out to people who are currently or were sponsored before, and do some online research as well. This will help you get a better sense of the application process and how it is different for international students. The OPT will allow you to work in the U.S. after graduating.
Staying in the U.S. is a process divided into two stages: (1) obtaining the Optional Practical Training (OPT) and (2) working with your future employer on the sponsorship process.
The OPT allows students under an F1 visa to stay and work in the US for a limited period of time. If you don’t know what it is yet and are planning to stay in the US after college, please learn as much about it as you can. USD’s Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) is a very good source of information for those considering finding a job in the US. I suggest familiarizing yourself with the process as much as you can and then go to the “Working Visas Workshops” held twice a semester by the OISS. After attending initial sessions you can schedule a personal meeting with one of the advisors to plan out your process. Submit all the paperwork and remember to follow any requirements during your OPT time. After the OPT application process ends, students will then be able to apply for a working visa. Overall, this process can be complicated so I suggest attending the information sessions held by the OISS and start learning about it early to ensure success in finding an organization that will sponsor for the job you want.
Searching for jobs
When looking for jobs use your resources because applying to online openings without knowing the recruiter or having an established link is like shooting an arrow in the dark. For this reason, before sending out applications I recommend using your networks – talking to career services, professors, friends, and family – to see if they know somebody working at the place you’re applying to or if they know someone in the industry.
Another helpful asset in my job search was USD’s Career Services because they have a better-established network in the U.S. than I do. By using ToreroLink, the careers portal, I knew that the companies hiring were looking for USD students, which was reassuring. I used Career Services postings, online job openings, and my network to find a job that I wanted.
When faced with the issue of finding a job, being selective is just as important, and by this I mean: narrow down your search scope to particular cities where you would like to live. As a Finance major, I knew that I was not in the best city to find a job, compared to students in NYC. But in my research about the sponsorship process, I discovered that while San Diego is not among best cities for finance work, Los Angeles and San Francisco are a lot better. This helped me narrow the scope of my job search to companies in cities that wanted to live in.
Lastly, when interviewing, being transparent and selective will be crucial factors of your job search. When interviewing, don’t conceal your nationality because you fear a job rejection. Instead, be clear about your nationality and intentions. Your potential future employer will appreciate this and will streamline your interviewing process.
Life After USD
After four wonderful years filled with great memories with friends I will be graduating this coming May. There may have been stressful moments, at times, but hard work pays off – especially when you have established your goals early on. After doing everything that I have just described, after graduation, I will start working at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Los Angeles. Listening to others’ advice and forging your own path helped me get there, and I hope sharing my experience helps you too.”