Network as an International Student to Land Your Dream Career Pathway
A new semester is approaching and for many of you who plan to use CPT and OPT to gain work experience in America. This is a time to kick start your networking game plan.
There are many ways you can get in touch with the right people to start your networking journey. Every day you encounter people who may be able to guide your journey; you just have to start the conversation.
This means not only networking with professionals in your field, but also students and faculty at your university.
Here Are Ten Steps You Can Take to Guide You in the Right Networking Direction as an International Student
- Reach out to your ISSS and Career Services.
- Introduce yourself to International Student Services and Career Services at your university. They can help you with your job search as they will understand your situation. Even during this pandemic, they are also available for appointments via zoom.
- Instead of making each session all about you, show your appreciation and get to know them, and why they dedicate their career to help students like yourself. Building relationships in the US doesn’t need to be people who are the same age. You can also make friends with your school officials as well. How great is that!
- Join school organizations and clubs.
- It will allow you to meet similar people who may end up being valuable connections in your future. During this pandemic, many student organizations are still engaging new members via social media platforms. Reach out to the student coordinator or club president!
- They would be more than happy to share all the amazing things they have for student members.
- Keep in touch with academic advisors.
- You have invested a lot of money into an American education. Having a goal of what you want to achieve is very important.
- Academic advisors can help you recognize and achieve your educational goals, for example, examining school programs, recognizing their academic strengths, and selecting a major.
- Many advisors also have great ideas about events or job opportunities that you can tap into. Stay connected and show your appreciation for the support that they provide to you.
- Find people who are different from you.
- Hangout with friends from all nationalities, not just from your home country. Being an international student is an asset, as you are extremely culturally aware. Learn more about people who are similar and different from you, to help brand yourself as “international,” not “foreign.” Find out if your school has a global ambassador program.
- How can you find them during this virtual era? Reach out to your school’s international affairs department. You can also ask your academic advisor about this as well.
- Faculty can be future mentors.
- Find inspirational professors or school officials and engage with them as mentors. A career mentor can help you greatly in the job search process. They can also be valuable references or connections in the future.
- Join national professional affiliations.
- Members of professional groups will not only become your valuable connections for future job referrals but will also help you pick up professional skills outside the classroom. They can be your mentors as well!
- During the pandemic, lots of organizations host free webinars that you can get involved with. Attend the webinar and connect with people that you admire one on one.
- Reach out to organizations like Central Asia Productivity Research Center (CAPRC), Ascend, and many others for volunteer opportunities where you can do meaningful work and network with top professionals.
- Not only will it look good on your resume, but you will learn valuable skills and meet people who can help you in the future.
- Connect with professionals.
- Connect with at least 1-2 new professionals a month. It’s not about the number of connections you make, but the quality. Even during the pandemic, you can connect with people on LinkedIn and understand what a career in your field will be like.
- New to the U.S. and LinkedIn Networking? Don’t worry about having 500+ connections right away. All you need is a few strong connections to the right people.
- Participate in competitions.
- Joining a business competition will help make your resume look much better. It will also help create your compelling stories regarding team collaboration, problem-solving, communication, and much more.
- You will also be able to network with lots of amazing students across universities and professionals across industries.
- Maintain meaningful connections.
- If you are new in the U.S., keep the commitment that by month 12, you should have at least 2-3 mentors from school and/or outside school whom you should maintain a meaningful relationship with.
- Mentors are essential to the career search process for international students. Isaac Newton once said, “if I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” We grow by standing on their shoulders!
I hope these 10 steps will help you successfully network as an international student. By the time you graduate, you’ll have meaningful connections with people who are similar and different from you, ranging from other students to faculty to professionals in your field.
All of these resources combined will be excellent building blocks for landing a job right when you graduate. Check out our infographic on the Networking BluePrint for International Students below. As always, Happy networking!
OJT Supports Coach Kwan
Kwan is an experienced human-capital consultant. Her past corporate experience includes global organizations like Deloitte, Accenture, and BMW.
Kwan moved to the U.S. in 2014, earned her Senior Professional HR certification from HRIC, and joined one of the world’s most prestigious consulting firms as a Senior Consultant of Human Capital Consulting Practice and managed multiple projects for Fortune 500 clients.
Today, Kwan is the CEO and Founder of ICAway, an educational consulting firm based out of Chicago. Our mission is to be an empowering community for international students and light the way for students to find jobs in the U.S.