By Meghavaty Suresh
My last post asked whether you’ve started job hunting, and I hope that you have! I’d like to tell you five basic things that I wish I had known back when I was an international student searching for work:
1. Resumes are not the be-all and end-all
As an international student, you have to understand that even though your resume is important, it’s not as important as trying to connect with people at the organizations where you’re applying. Make sure your resume looks good, but don’t waste all of your time on formatting and wondering if you’re using the right font.
2. Send networking emails
Reach out to people in your network, whether they’re alumni from your school or other acquaintances. Write to them and try to set up informational interviews so that you can learn from their experience and understand more about the company where they work. Sending these messages can be scary at first, but you’ll get used to it. Be careful and make sure there are no typos. A typo in a networking email is almost worse than a typo on your resume.
3. Follow up, follow up, follow up
Always follow up your networking efforts with emails. You may not always hear back from people when you send them a thank-you note, which is okay. People will still appreciate the fact that you made the effort.
4. Remember that an interview is not a quiz
Be sincere during interviews. If an employer asks a question that stumps you, they’ll respect you for admitting you don’t know the answer, rather than trying to lie your way through it. Interviewers are experienced and have been in your shoes at some point. Own up to the fact that you’re in the dark about something, and make it clear that you’ll make an effort to change that.
5. Be proud of your multi-cultural experience
You’ve had the courage to travel far and wide to learn in a different country. Be proud of it and make sure that your international experience comes out during your interview; it’s a great advantage to have.
If you’d like to hear more about my experience job hunting, send me a tweet, or leave me a comment, and we can chat!
Meghavaty Suresh is a brand engagement specialist at The Guardian. She is originally from Mumbai, India. She earned a master’s in new media at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she realized what it truly meant to be an international student and how best to enjoy the experience. The megaVOICE column is her opportunity to give a voice to the whispers of international students. Megha lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @meghasuresh.