Dan Beaudry presented “How International Students Can Find Employment in the U.S.” Oct. 10 in Mitchell Auditorium and shared his knowledge of the potent job search system he has used to help international students.
Beaudry is the former head of campus recruiting at Monster.com and former associate director of corporate recruiting at the Boston University School of Management. Drawing on his experience, he shared his innovative networking ideas that are valuable for both international and American students. For international students, the word “networking” is often a nebulous term that seems to surround them from the first day they set foot on an American college campus. It evokes images of career fairs where that popular guy with that perfect smile approaches one recruiter after the next. He seems to know how to make that witty remark at just the right time. The recruiter’s laugh echoes through the hall, and within minutes they have exchanged business cards.
That’s one of the many daunting associations that may make international students want to curl up in a ball when they hear the word “networking.” How are you supposed to start off a witty conversation in your second or third language when you don’t even understand the “How I Met Your Mother” references that your classmates are making half the time? Well, the answer is that you don’t have to.
International students often wrongly assume that American students have learned the concept of networking from birth. But the truth of the matter is that even American students struggle with putting themselves out there and confronting the pressure of being witty, likable and knowledgeable all at the same time, Beaudry said.
Beaudry’s advice on how to overcome such fears comes in the form of informational interviews. Informational interviews, unlike regular job interviews, are interviews that you initiate yourself. They are not about a job; in fact, you shouldn’t bring up the issue of looking for a job at all. Their sole purpose is to gather information. That alone takes off pressure because the interview is not about you being put on the spot and explaining why you are a good candidate. Instead, you control the agenda and are in the unique position to interview an experienced professional about the career field in which you are interested. In contrast to career fairs, informational interviews give you the chance to stand out as a person and not to be one of the many.
For international students, this is crucial.
“No one hires international students as a category,” Beaudry said.
Instead, students need to make a value proposition that highlights the qualifications that make them unique and merit the effort of providing them with a visa sponsorship. But how do you find business professionals in your career field, and why would they take the time to talk to you? As for the first part, alumni databases of your college, professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, and friends and family are a good place to start.
Beaudry explained that the professionals one finds through these networks will often be happy to talk because of the “basic human need to tell your story.” Take advantage of that need and be an attentive listener instead of dominating the conversation with your own accomplishments.
One who masters the art of being attentive might even find ways to return the favor and discover the needs of the other person. That can allow one to come close to what Beaudry called building “power ties,” long-lasting professional relationships built on trust.
For more advice on how to build these relationships and explanations of why following up after a first interview can be much like dating, read Beaudry’s “Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States.”