By Amanda Rosenberg
Nobody achieves success alone. We all need communities of people to support, and who support us, to build each other up and provide unique and helpful insight. In this way, anyone can succeed. ICAway aims to support a community of international students, immigrants, and leaders who want to pay it forward.
One of our seven ICAway advisory board members, Robina Singh, recently piloted a new mentorship program with us.
Robina was born in Punjab, India. She immigrated with her family to the U.S. in 1994. One of the fondest memories from her childhood in India is the annual trip she took with her family to the Indian-Pakistan border. The Indian subcontinent is rich with history, legacy, and culture. She has lived in the suburbs of New York for 27 years and calls it home. She is a National Director at Ascend, a premier non-profit organization for Pan-Asian business professionals and students.
“I will forever be indebted to and grateful for countless teachers, mentors, and coaches who supported me when I came to the States,” Robina said.
“They played an invaluable role in my personal and professional growth. So, I have firsthand experience in the strength of a strong network of people you can lean on for guidance and encouragement.”
“ICAway’s mission to build an empowering community for international students deeply resonates with me, and through my involvement, I hope to help further the organization’s work and give back. The U.S. continues to be the land of dreams for so many people from across the world. International students are no different. They possess strong academic credentials, a deep commitment to education, a penchant for hard work and success – all the qualities that make them not only valuable but invaluable to the U.S.”
Robina encourages students to ask themselves “what is your unique value proposition and why a company should hire you”. If you can answer this question, the hard part is done. If you cannot answer the question, pause and reflect on your value as a job candidate.
What is this program?
Early this year, ICAway implemented a Pilot: Mentorship program with ICAway Students. This program seeks to help build students’ ability to create mentor/mentee relationships and to groom selected students to become ICAway Brand Ambassadors.
Robina has started the mentorship program this year in hopes of achieving these student relationships. Mentees are selected to participate in the program either in a group setting on 1:1 with their mentor.
Student Kelly Liao has been selected to receive a 1:1 one-month mentorship with Robina in this pilot phase.
ICAway alumni Kelly Liao is the perfect example of a student whose persistence drove her to success. After moving to the US from China, Liao received a graduate degree in economics from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After struggling to land a job that would support OPT, Liao joined ICAway for coaching and networking connections. Liao then got an internship and two months later, received a full-time offer from her internship company.
In what ways does this program help students?
Recently, Coach Kwan and Robina met with Kelly to celebrate her achievements and talk about her journey. Here is what Kelly shared:
Q: What were your challenges before getting mentorship from Robina?
A: My challenges would be how to speak with people naturally because I’m not confident in my oral English and how to get a job through networking. Also, I’m very shy to speak up during a meeting and need to improve my leadership skills.
Q: Can you please tell us about a light bulb moment during the session?
A: Robina just chatted with me and encouraged me to speak and present myself, which gave me a lot of confidence. If I have to choose one moment, I would like to say when she told me how to be better prepared before the first day of my job and gave me some tips to speak up during a meeting.
Q: In your own words, what’s the best part of this mentorship opportunity with Robina?
A: For me, it’s like establishing my first mentorship relationship with others and gaining positive feedback from Robina who really wants to see me be better. The relationship matters. Also, she provided me with some valuable suggestions.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with other students?
A: You can get a lot from this well-established mentorship program inside ICAway. Sometimes, you may feel stressed to talk with a specific person weekly, but let’s push yourself to do this and keep a relationship with your mentor. In the end, what you can get depends on what you want to get! Be proactive!
Kelly is a great example of a student who, through persistence, patience, and a little help from ICAway, found success in a career she is passionate about.
Kelly encourages students to find value within themselves and to show that value to the workforce. From joining ICAway, she learned essential career and job finding skills that ultimately connected her to these job opportunities.
Here’s a picture from our virtual celebration for Kelly (Top Left: Robina Singh, Top Right: Coach Kwan, Bottom: Kelly Liao)
If I want to become a guest mentor, how can I get involved?
If you are interested in becoming an ICAway Mentor for international students and immigrants in the US, or if you would like to know more, please submit the form below.