By Meghavaty Suresh
Now that I work a full-time job and my school days are behind me, I’ve been doing some retrospective thinking. What were the surprises, issues and experiences that have shaped my journey so far? Among the many things that come to mind, one aspect stands out: work experience. This area of your resume holds immense weight and it affects both international students who do not have work experience and those who do.
During my time in school, I realized there was a significant percentage of international students who began their Master’s degree soon after completing an undergraduate program. This can put you at a disadvantage because you lack full-time work experience.
I’m going to elaborate on three strategies that you can employ to overcome that hurdle:
1. For students who transitioned from their undergrad directly into a graduate program, you need to understand how what you learn at school fits into the real world. Your classmates can help you immensely with this:
Tap into their knowledge and understand how the day-to-day is different in companies and industries the US.
them how their previous jobs help them understand graduate courses better. Even without U.S. centered experience, you should cultivate the habit of interacting with peers to get a better understanding of what’s out there.
2. Find a job on campus that mirrors what you would like to end up doing when you graduate. This might sound difficult, but if you think about it, a university functions in the same fashion as any external enterprise. You have marketing, finance, accounting, people oriented jobs, public relations, and business strategy teams across every university. So, try expanding your campus job search a little outside food service, RA, and TA positions. This will help you pick up skills that will help you during the job interview process.
3. Look for an internship at a company that is well known in your target industry. International students may have work experience at a smaller company in your home country but not in a multinational company (think of the difference between a small local company compared to PepsiCo). If you are worried that experience at a less recognizable company is negatively impacting your resume, try to find internships or projects at big brand companies.