I entered the USA around 1 year back with a high amount of energy and passion, with innumerable questions and no direction. Trying to fit in the new culture, new roommates, new weather and new education system, I didn’t know where to start.
So I started asking questions. I tried to jot down what was important as I start with my masters and the following are the things that I think played the most important role during masters.
1. Summer Internship.
2. On-campus job.
3. Choosing courses and making sure to have a good GPA.
4. Forming connections with people.
5. Challenging myself
6. Not forgetting to enjoy life.
The first thing I discovered as an International student was, it is very important to get a Summer Internship offer in a really good company to make your life easy. The first thing in it was to know which companies to apply to and have my application contents like a resume, cover letter ready.
To create a resume…
I asked my seniors to share their resume with me, went to the career services section in college, contacted my friends to share the resume. Once I created a draft, I’d go back to it every morning to revisit with a fresh mind and see how effective it is. I’d find a few impressive and few not really important things in my resume and I’d work on them. I did a lot of research the whole time on how I could keep making it better. When I was satisfied with my resume, I asked people to review it. I’m so happy that almost all of them were very supportive in the process and tried to be as critical as they could be which shaped my resume really well. Cover letter process was same as a resume.
To apply to companies…
It took a lot of efforts to go on the website of each company and apply, it was time-consuming. Especially because we try to be as cautious and impressive as we can be. I needed to dedicate time to apply. Well, how did I make it effective? Afternoons would generally get boring for me to study, so after having lunch when I’d be slow to process things, I’d apply. It reserved my most productive time for study. Fortunately, I didn’t need to use referrals as such but whenever I saw a job posting, if there was any friend of mine working in that company, I’d shamelessly ask for a referral. The bonus of it was to reactivate the connection with that person (not just for work but in general) and to get a referral. Most of the applications I did were through LinkedIn Job postings. I can recommend a few others if anyone wants to know more about it.
To improve on connections…
While applying to companies I realized it was important to get in touch with recruiters/managers on Linkedin. So what did I do to manage that while not wasting time in it? I created my search query to find a “university recruiter” or “technical recruiter” to have a list, also to find managers who said “I’m hiring” and aggressively went ahead and sent a connection request. The success rate of response was 99%. A lot of them not only accepted my connection request but also reviewed my profile and asked me if I was interested in interviewing with their companies. A secret in this was, I sent connection requests when I’d be traveling to school, or be sleepy or be in a sluggish mode with no intention of using my brain. I was working towards my goal with no pressure on myself when I didn’t want it.
To get noticed by recruiters/managers…
I started updating my LinkedIn profile, worked a lot on it before asking anyone to review it. Referred to profiles of all those whose guidance I took. I also requested my connections from bachelors or previous companies that I worked for, for recommendations. Few of them gladly submitted it. Some of them even went ahead and updated it when they thought they could make it better.
Within 3 months of coming to the USA, I had 1 full-time job offer and 3 internship offers. These 2 internship offers were from the big four. I had to say no to the full-time job offer because of Visa issues. I did an internship at a startup right away in my first semester and a summer internship at Microsoft. Well, how did I do an internship at a startup even while being an international student? keep reading to get your answers.
In all the things that I tried, I realized, I had to keep trying without expecting the results. This made me keep trying more than required, and I started seeing results that I did not expect…
For On-Campus jobs, I had decided that I did not want to do anything that will not contribute to my resume. Being very clear and diligent made me put more effort into applications. I sent numerous emails to professors, sharing my resume and stating what I expect to do. I got offered the position of a grader for a course I knew nothing about! Why? Simply by communicating my skills and readiness to adapt to new technology!
One of the recruiters had reached out to me on LinkedIn and I cleared all the interviews for them. Reaching out to multiple people and asking the right questions led me to the Entrepreneurship Centre on the campus which made it possible to work for another company through an on-campus job. So in the first 3 months, not only Summer internship offers, I had 2 On-Campus offers, both of which were going to have a strong impact on my resume. I’d suggest as soon as you decide on which university to go to, try to find everything that you can, you never know which option can change your direction and help you!
We were paranoid while choosing courses in the first semester, there are a lot of rules that you should be aware of while choosing courses, which courses contribute towards the degree and how to plan. Making a mix of tough and easy courses to balance with interview studies and on-campus jobs. I remember having a print out of courses, marked with the instructor’s name on it and also the level of difficulty. Talking to seniors is the best way to understand the courses and getting a clear idea. Apart from that, meeting advisors and sharing what you’re interested in can help you in getting advice from them. As a new person in another country, I got to know that there’s something called an “add-drop deadline” which lets you “try” courses and then decide to drop the courses by it, I made sure I make full use of it and would highly recommend trying using that option! Having a mix of tough and easy courses helped me with maintaining my GPA.
In the first semester, I focussed on getting the internship and in second, dedicatedly on courses to bump up my GPA.
Making a plan is not easy, it needs a lot of effort, but in the end, it’s totally worth it!
I’ve always hated the idea of making “connections” with people to only get their “referrals”. It’s not at all a bad thing but sometimes you miss out on so much because you’re just focused on getting “referral” of that person and nothing else. I met a lot of people through local meetups and saw them being crazy passionate about their careers. It didn’t happen all at once in one meetup, I had to make sure I constantly do that, make new connections I really connect with and maintain the old ones. I learned their struggles, their achievements, a whole lot of opportunities, their thought processes, their stories! I’m so so glad that I’ve been doing that. One of the easiest things to keep yourself updated with tech trends is to talk and having a brilliant connection helps you with that!
Also, don’t forget the connections you made back home before starting the masters’ journey! They are important ones in reaching where you are today!
I made sure I try new things, gave a webinar, spoke at an event, participated in a lot of meetups/hackathons, became a part of on-campus clubs, organized a conference, applied and received a lot of scholarships!
A lot of things! You need to find what gives you energy and do that!
And it is so satisfying to do something that you love with no exams and marks! :)
I love watching rom-coms and I wanted to watch them guilt-free! I had a simple plan to do that. Spending my morning and afternoon in doing things for my career and keeping the rest of the hours for myself. I learned and cooked a lot of dishes, went on hikes, met my friends in different cities and watch daily soaps every single day! Even night before I had an exam or an interview! That was the time my mind would be completely shut off and I wouldn’t think! That gave me enough energy for the next day. I made sure I talk to my friends and family to not lose myself while running after technology, they made sure they remind me of my roots and keep me grounded.
In everything that I said above, all that drove me and gave me energy in doing these things was my passion! Passion to do masters, passion to challenge myself, passion to criticize and improve every single day!
There’s a dialogue from one of the Bollywood movies (I’m a big Bollywood fan!) which says “Dil Se Faisla Karo Tumhe Kya Karna Hai… Dimaag Tarkeeb Nikaal Lega”, which means “Decide with your heart what you want to do, your brain will figure out the rest!”
Remember, if a girl from a small town with no person to hold hands and direct could do it, you can too!
Rise and Shine buddies!
Stay tuned for more detailed stories on each of the topics!
Original article published here.