This post is written for all of the people coming to the US to study this coming Fall. If you want to work in the US after graduation, you should make your job search an early priority. If you’ve just graduated and you’re still looking for a job, you’re not alone. Every year a large number of international students either wait too long to start their job search (amazingly, sometimes even until after spring break), or waste a great deal of time doing the wrong things. In The International Students Guide to Finding a Job in the United States, I address at length the common mistakes that international students make in their US job search. Perhaps the biggest mistake is waiting.
Why you shouldn’t wait to start your US job search
International students, particularly MBA students, understandably think that their priority as students should be to study and get good grades. Well, yeah, that’s important. But in general, it’s not the grades that are going to get you a great job. Good grades never hurt, and are sometimes critical to getting the role you want. But you’ll find that good job search technique trumps good grades any day of the week. If you can convince a hiring manager that you are the solution to his or her problems, your grades won’t mean a thing (within reason). International students I’ve worked with have a hard time understanding this.
If you’re an MBA student, ask yourself why you’re getting the MBA. Is it to become a professor? Most students would reply that they are in the degree program to become more attractive to employers and to get a better job in the business world. And for better or worse, the support that you’ll receive from your school and the recruitment community once you graduate is not as abundant as what you’ll find during the academic year. While you’re a student, there are school activities, club events, regular contact with faculty, career services classes, sponsored networking events, visiting corporate speakers, information sessions, and a litany of opportunities to connect that will dry up once the academic year is over. Take advantage of these things. Don’t take the ‘grades now, job later’ approach that has sunk so many well-meaning international students. The reality is that you’ll need to meet your academic standards, while engaging in your job search. But multi-tasking is part of being a leader, right?
If you’ll be entering a US university this Fall, congratulations. It will be a wonderful experience regardless of your job search ambitions after graduation. But if you’re serious about getting a job in the US, set it as a priority, work on it often, and start now.