I am graduating – now what?As we have written about previously in our blog, international education is likely to get you ahead in the job market search, because you have acquired many additional skills other than the pure academics while studying abroad. Many international students aim to get a job abroad after they graduate, and just as applying to university abroad is a challenge, finding a job in another country can be a challenging process. The cultural differences turn everything from writing your resume to interviewing effectively into a complex exercise. It doesn’t have to be that way…
There are several sources and tips to overcome these challenges.
- Career services– most schools have a career counseling service. Use it. They may be able to advise you and actually help you connect with employers.
- Use the information that is available online – there is a wealth of information on the web regarding cultural differences and effective strategies for applying and interviewing for a job in different countries.
- Connect with a coach – once we launch our platform over the next months, you will see that many GradTrain coaches have successfully landed a job after their international studies (academic or private) and can share their experience with you. Look for someone with a background similar to yours and ask all of the questions you have. They will be able to point you in the right direction.
- Take on internships and summer jobs while you are studying – the best way to gain a perspective on the local job market is to actually work in it. Some programs allow students to intern at an employer that is in their field (such as the United Nations) or to work a real summer job at Law firms, financial institutions, and more. Doing well in an internship or summer job may lead to a long-term employment offer.
- Put together a plan and a strategy of where you would like to work. You can create a table of potential employers with their websites and contacts and start contacting them and applying to jobs. As an international student, you may need to make an extra effort to be noticed by employers. Looking for a contact in the company and connecting with them through social media or in a face to face meeting may help. Assume that you will need to contact many employers in order to obtain interviews. Do not despair! Finding a job is a full time job.
- Start looking for a job several months before you graduate. Do not wait for the last minute. Interview processes can sometimes take 3-6 months, and you may need visa sponsorship, so it is best to start early so you are not stuck in a situation where you do not have a visa.
- Use your network. Networking is a crucial part of finding a job. Networking is about finding people who are already working in your field of interest and companies of interest or who know other people who are. Connecting with them and asking for their help and advice in finding a job is an important part of the job search.
- Participate. There are many forums you will be able to participate in as part of your studies (conferences, cocktail parties, networking events). You should utilize these opportunities to introduce yourself and be known to people in your industry. When you apply for a job a few months later, you will be able to contact them and let them know that you are applying for a job in their company and they may be able to put in a good word for you and increase your chances of getting an interview.
- Use social media. Social media is also a great way to connect with potential employers. Sites like LinkedIn provide a place where you can build a professional profile and search for people who work where you would like to work. In recent years, LinkedIn has become a source many recruiters use to find good candidates (the author of this blog found several jobs and was recruited for several jobs in the US through online job portals such as LinkedIn, CareerBuilder and Monster). You can and should of course search for GradTrain coaches who are already working in your field of interest, and consult with them on the best ways to find the job of your dreams based on your field of study.
- Don’t forget the bureaucracy. When you apply for your graduate program, make sure to check if your visa has any limitations on working in your country of study. Indeed, different countries differ in this regard, so make sure you know the visa rules. In many cases you will need to obtain work authorization to begin work, and this can be an obstacle even if you do find the job you want. Some fields (like law) allow you to work for a certain period after you graduate as part of your academic training. Be sure to check the terms of your visa if you are indeed looking to work after graduation. Certain scholarships also require that you return to your home country for a period of time after graduation (e.g. Fulbright), so be sure to take this into consideration when deciding what type of financial support to obtain (if you are interested in immigrating or spending several years abroad).
- Stay on the watch. As you go through your studies, check out the market and stay aware of changes to the economy and job situation in your target market. If you see that the reality is changing for better or for worse, try to adjust your strategies (and expenses) accordingly. MBA and Law Students who graduated in 2008 spent up to $100,000/year on their studies and living expenses and many did not find jobs after graduating. I do not mean to discourage you from pursuing these programs, but rather encourage you to plan your expenses and minimize your costs of living as much as possible so you are prepared for the chance that you may need to return home with some debt. Better that it be manageable for you. You may indeed find the job of your dreams that will cover all of your expenses, but it is better to be prepared for the situation where it does not happen.
- Believe in yourself, you can do it! Hundreds of thousands of international graduates are working and living in the countries where they studied (or in other foreign countries) and are thriving through their international education experiences. You can do it! In order to get to that point, you need to make informed decisions throughout the whole process, starting with the country and program you choose, through the financial decisions you make on the way and the strategies you employ to leverage your network and other sources to find and get the right job as graduation approaches.
- We can help! Soon you will be able to connect with our coaches and explore our forums. Check out www.gradtrain.com to find out much more information.