Internships and International Students – You CAN do it!

This blog post is for the benefit of all of the international students, especially those who have one main concern  – the opportunities for internships and job placements for international students at Fisher in the U.S.  So, let me, hopefully, put the demons to rest and disprove some myths about the perceived difficulties.

First things first – everyone will get an internship and will get a full-time offer (at least that has been my experience here). Nothing to worry about that and no doubt about that. Now that everyone has let off a huge sigh of relief, I will definitely say that the internship search/job search is as much your responsibility as it is the school’s. That’s true of all world class educational institutitons, Fisher included.

Fisher will help you refine your resume; cut the unwanted fat off it and make it clean, crisp and clear. The reasoning behind this is honestly, the recruiters have only a couple of minutes to go through each resume; the shorter it is with just the right points, the better your chances of getting noticed in the crowd.  And the Career Management office at Fisher does nothing short of a brilliant job in that.  Kudos to them.

Next in line is building your networking skills. As an international student myself, I know how difficult it is for us to break out of that shell initially. Yes, mistakes will be made; you may embarrass yourself initially and then laugh it off. But then again, this is all a part of the journey towards excellence. Fisher throws at you plenty of opportunities to be able to network with real time industry professionals and plenty of recruiters to keep practicing your networking skills and developing the most important 30-second pitch. The career counselor; the professors; your peers; everyone will help you improve, practice and perfect your pitch and slowly you will see your confidence and networking ability improve. It is like accounting or finance; initially nothing will seem to make sense till you realize that it is all easy indeed.

Now that these two are out of the way, next is probably the most important thing. The right resume and good networking will enable you to get your foot through the door and get you time with the company and recruiters. But, the key to the next step is purely your ability to interview well. And that comes through a lot of practice; again, I have not seen or heard of any other career management office and counselors/professors/peers who take as personal of an interest in ensuring the students’ preparedness for interviews as they do at Fisher. You can always knock on their door anytime and practice. And that’s what will help you cross that finish line.

While it is indeed true that there are fewer sheer numbers of opportunities available for international as opposed to domestic students, the US market is on the upward swing  and Fisher is known for placement statistics which are ranked among the top 10 in all of the US. So you will get out of your internship/job search as much as you put in. If you are committed to it and refine your resume, connect with the career management counselors regularly, network well, establish your pitch to the recruiters and practice, there is nothing that will stop you from getting an internship or a job in the industry of your liking and a job you will be passionate about.

Acquaintance to grad life – learn to unlearn

I cannot just believe that it has been over 2 months since I first set foot in Columbus and Fisher. Boy O boy they were not kidding when they said time whizzes past when in an MBA program from a good school! I still remember the summit outdoor adventure (what a fun day that was!!) like it happened only last week! And beyond that life has been an adventure indeed.

Well for an international student, from India to step into such a rigorous program, especially after working for about 7 years, I felt like fish out of water. It took some getting used to get back into the “school mode”. Not to say that I am there already, but I realized it’s a process and a continuous one at that. So for all you international folks out there (especially from Asia), its going to be tough, challenging; but then what you get out of it at the end of the day makes it all worth it.

What did I get out of it so far? Quite a bit!! Got a great bunch of friends, a great team, constant interaction with great faculty, friendly admissions folks and Graduate Programs Office, an amazing career office.

But a couple of the most important things I learned was that it is absolutely essential (as tough as it may be for people like us) to be able to shed all inhibitions of shyness and respect and go out there and talk! I learned the importance of networking and making connections, meaningful ones at that; we will always be making connections to socialize, but I realized that connections are needed for career, too. After some really embarrassing situations initially whilst networking with company representatives, I slowly have started getting the hang of it and understand the importance of it. It is an art, it is not rocket science though and can be mastered through practice. And of course, the amazing people from the Fisher career management office and peers will help out a lot.

Probably the most important thing I learnt was to “unlearn” and have an open mind. All of us come here with some sort of career ambitions or a clear career path in mind. At least some do and many of us who come here are clueless; and I would like to reassure you all that its absolutely fine to be clueless. Because that is as important as having a clear knowledge of what and where you want to be (because, trust me, most of the times – as it was with me – it changes). I learned that what I thought I wanted to do and be in life was actually not my calling. Now don’t misinterpret this as I know what I want to do already, no; absolutely not. But, I have now started checking off what I do not see myself doing. Have an open mind to everything and understand that knowing what you don’t want to do is as important as knowing what you do want to do, they are 2 sides of the same coin!

If I have had so many takeaways in just over 2 months, I am excited at the opportunities and learning which is round the corner; I have over 1.5 years left and cannot wait to go through this rollercoaster MBA program at Fisher and come out a better individual. Go Bucks!! (yeah, you learn to love American football as well :-))