Success Story – Xiaochen Liu

“Your health and wellness are the foundation of any success!”

Xiaochen Liu was an international student who received both a master’s degree (2016) and a Ph.D. from UConn in Cognition, Instruction, and Learning Technology (2020). “Like every graduate student experienced in the height of Covid-19 pandemic, the hiring freeze was painful. Even worse, as an international student, finding a job with sponsorship (i.e., support H or J visa) was nearly impossible. I believe communication and connection could be the most important way to get through this obstacle.” Eventually, Xiaochen secured a position as Faculty Development Specialist at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Connecticut and offers remote support to faculty, students, and staff at Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University (China).

Xiaochen offered a message on asking for help and caring for yourself which is so important for UConn international students to hear. Learning to seek assistance is often a challenge for many people. And knowing when to stop and take time to care for one’s mental, and physical wellbeing is often overlooked.

“Don’t be afraid to communicate with the colleague you worked with and mentors/advisors/supervisors you trust. Not just finding opportunities but asking for advice on study, work and life can help you overcome depression and stressful moments.”

When asked about job search advice for international students, Xiaochen provided 4 suggestions.

  • “First, always plan. If you want to find a job, you might want to start preparing a year ahead, especially an application package (i.e., CV, resume, writing sample, letter of interest). I prepared a draft of my application materials during the Ph.D. comprehensive exam and that was super helpful when I searched for a job two years later.
  • Second, build your connections. Ask your advisor, course instructors, or trusted colleagues for advice.
  • Third, wisely use your social media – ResearchGate, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Subscribe to mailing lists, and job searching channels help too. If you subscribe to areas that you are interested in, you are likely to see postings for open positions that match your skills.
  • Finally, and the most important one is taking care of yourself – your health and wellness is the foundation of any success.”

UConn offers various resources and services to assist international students. Xiaochen took advantage of the following:

  • The Center for Career Development for assistance with her CV, cover letter, and preparing for interviews
  • The Writing Center for a writing course and resources
  • International Teaching Assistant Services for language courses and teaching assistant preparation
  • The Graduate Student listserv for potential job opportunities

There are many approaches that Xiaochen offers that worked in their situation. Xiaochen proactively sought out resources and services which ultimately helped in her career preparation. To learn more about career preparation for international students, visit the Center for Career Development’s Affinity Page.

By Desiree Martino
Desiree Martino Career Coach | Pronouns she/her