I have been in the U.S. for little more than a month, but this is my first visit to Back Bay, a neighborhood in Boston. It is simply impressive. I take a moment to enjoy the view of the fancy restaurants, the very neat streets and the exquisite architectural design around me.
I walk towards my destination, and see it soon enough. My attention is immediately captured by the imposingly tall skyscraper. I’m heading towards the tallest building in Boston: the John Hancock Tower. I register at the front desk and take an elevator to the 36th floor.
A lady takes me to the room where the event will take place. It is still early, so no one has arrived yet. I approach the window and enjoy the view. Boston, in all its beauty, is before my eyes.
But this time, I don’t think of the streets or the beautiful bay I am looking at. I think of people. Specifically, I think of all of those facing my same situation this year.
Like many others, I came to Hult not only to learn and gain experience, but also to seek the opportunity to continue my professional career in the United States.
What did I think that would be like?
First, there’s the MBA, of course—long hours studying, learning and, of course, having fun.
Then, a few months before graduation, the school will send our resumes (giving, of course, priority to the highest GPAs) to companies anxious to hire talented internationals.
After that, I’ll get a job interview thanks to a flawless resume, an offer with a big salary, and be all set. I’d live happily ever after; end of story.
Here’s what the reality actually looks like.
There are more than 650,000 international students enrolled in U.S. institutions. Most of them need a permit to work in the US (usually, an H1-B visa). This requires an employer willing to sponsor the candidate, in other words, willing to pay close to 7,000 USD, and hire a lawyer, among other things.
So what kind of impression do you think you have to make on a company to get that? Certainly, a high GPA is not the way; studies and grades are important, but companies are looking for other things. They are looking for soft skills. They want people who can lead and manage others, and people who are easy to work with and can build relationships.
When employers hire, they are actually engaged in doing business. Human beings usually do business with people they know and like (or, at least, trust). Building trust is something the best resume or cover letter in the world can’t do for you.
How is it then that you can stand out? By getting out there, meeting people in the industry you want to enter, and building relationships with them. In other words, networking. That takes time.
Now, while waiting for my first networking event to start, I look at the city and think of all the students who are out there, working to the best of their ability to achieve that which I’m looking for—a job in the U.S.
I’m certain I’ll meet many of them—some at parties, some in conferences, and some when we’re sitting in the same room, in about a year, waiting for our turn with the same interviewer.
They will have different backgrounds, work experience and skill sets. But I am completely sure that many of them will not have the advantage of having worked with this valuable information from day one. Thanks to Hult International Business School, I have it.
If, like me, you aim to work in the U.S., here’s news you need: Hult won’t directly get you a job offer. No business school will do that. But the school will give you all kinds of tools to aid in your search. Just in the first month of my MBA program, I attended workshops, had one-on-one coaching with Career Services specialists, and got direction on readings that shed light on the job search and networking culture in the U.S.
But all the tools in the world will be useless if you don’t use them. I can assure you, my future fellow alumni, not everyone will get this message right away. Some never will, and they’ll spend (or waste?) their time just applying online, hoping to hear back from the companies and failing, more often than not.
On the other hand, many students at Hult (and other schools) will get the message. It will be tough competition. Believe me, you want to be one step ahead, and not one behind. The sooner you can start building your network, the better. And no, you don’t even have to wait until your program actually starts.
Hult helped me understand the reality of being an international student, aiming for future employment in the United States. The school opened my eyes to the fact that looking for a job in this situation is a quasi-entrepreneurial quest, and staff members and faculty do their best to awaken in students a sense of urgency. They started on a rainy Orientation Day with three words: “It starts today.”
My thoughts return to the present. People are arriving. This is it. Time to get away from the window and start building relationships. I’ve never been the social type, and I am fairly anxious. There’s no easy way out of that. It takes interpersonal skills to be successful in business. Hult International Business School taught me that these are skills we can build, a contrast to what I used to think. This is easier said than done, but I have no choice, because I’m sure many of those thousands of students trying their hand at networking will also succeed.
This is my first try. It starts today. Good luck to us all.
Edgardo Macias is a Hult Global Ambassador. He is an MBA student at Hult Boston, a finance professional, and an amateur musician with a great passion for math, teaching and intellectual discussion.
Picture courtesy of Gerd Altman.