• Kwan Segal

Start Off 2019 On The Right Foot

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Dear Coach Kwan,

I am now a senior in college, and after sharing New Year’s resolutions with my family, I realized that I really need to get a move on and plan out my post-graduation life. Spending time at home has me feeling re-energized; all I need now is some guidance on what my next move should be. Help!


An international student, ready to stick to make 2019 my best year yet

The New Year is always an exciting time. The sense of hope that comes with the opportunity of turning a new leaf and the motivation that comes with newly composed resolutions make the perfect time to rethink your career goals. First, create the right mindset. Then, you can move on to job hunting.

1. It is NOT all about STEM

As international students, we are used to hearing about the importance of technical skills. It seems like more and more people are entering the STEM field while those majoring in humanities get left behind. However, you should never underestimate how valuable soft skills are.

A tech company is not comprised only of tech-oriented people. There are plenty of non-tech jobs at big Tech companies. In fact, according to Glassdoor’s December 2018 Research Report, in 2018, 43% of positions available at tech companies were non-technical positions (“Job Market Trends: Five Hiring Disruptions to Watch in 2019”, Glassdoor). After initial infrastructure building that required workers specializing in the technical side of things, the tech industry is now in need of different operators. An entire team of marketing specialists, sales associates, project managers and HR people are needed as tech companies expand. As the tech industry starts to no longer be the leading industry but the status quo, the exclusivity that STEM majors used to enjoy is now a thing of the past.

2. It is NOT all about sponsorship

It is common for international students to visit websites that share public information about the companies that sponsor international students. Many coaches and career services representatives advise students to apply to companies that are listed on those sites to ensure sponsorship. However, many success stories of international students who got jobs did not follow that path. Instead for searching for company that is sponsoring international students, search for a company where you will fit in. Just because an employer has a history of having sponsored international student does not mean that they will sponsor any international student. At the end of the day, it is all about supply and demand. If you look for an employer that has a demand for your skills and your expertise, they will want to hire you. Even if it is a company that does not have a track record on international student sponsorship, if you excel at what you do, they will want to keep you.

3. It IS all about job hunting the smart way

First, you should define your target group. You need to set a goal that is both specific and realistic. Instead of applying to companies that have a history of sponsoring international students, or blindly applying to dozens of companies in hopes that one will stick, you should narrow your focus. Evaluate your current situation--think about your major, your experiences and the skills that you possess. After that, you should do research on the job market demand. This way, you can set a goal that aligns with your strengths and interests, but that it is also an achievable one.

Then, you should create a networking game plan. I have stressed over and over again the importance of networking. Building meaningful connections with key people will lead you to the right opportunities. However, these connections do not happen overnight. You need to invest time and attention in order to truly connect with people, and not just to be opportunistic. In order to do these effectively, you need to lay out a game plan in the form of a timeline so that you can keep track of the events you are interested in and the people that you want to connect with. From then on, you can focus on the people you will meet.

Finally, you need to build your career brand. You will want to network and connect with people who you find interesting and you share something in common with. The same applies to you--if you do not have clear goals and interests, then you cannot expect someone to find common ground with you.

As an international student, you already have the upper hand in having an unconventional background. Add that to your own objectives and aspirations and you can easily build a unique career brand that people will be interested in.

All the Best with Your Career Search in 2019!

Want to learn more about all the important networking techniques and strategic game plan to help you build a professional network in the US?

Join the ICAway Talent Platform to learn how to build your new network in the U.S. and build a career brand that draws recruiters to you

About 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.

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