Last semester, the Center for Career Development and the International Student and Scholars Services hosted a panel discussion about navigating the U.S. job and internship process. The panelists consisted of undergraduate and graduate international students & alumni who discussed both the successes and challenges faced securing a job or internship.
The panelists consisted of Simin (Jasmine) Zhang who received her B.S., Business Accounting with a Minor in Analytics in 2020 and is an Assurance Associate, EY.
Pooja Jain graduated in 2021 from the Masters in Business Analytics and Project Management program. She currently has a Marketing Analytics Internship at RedHat Inc. and will be transitioning into a full position as a Marketing Data Analyst at the same company in December.
Dr. Yin Ma, Ph.D. received her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics in 2021 and is a Data Engineer at The Hartford .
Adnan Mohammad, Ph.D. is pursuing his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and held an Engineering Internship at Enviro Power earlier this year.
The panelists offered advice covering several topics:
Prepare Early & Join Organizations
Jasmine started career planning her sophomore year to understand the qualities employers desire. She took advantage of UConn’s School of Business resources to find an accounting internship. Jasmine attended career fairs in her major and applied on the company websites. Prior to her internship, Jasmine visited the Center for Career Development to review her résumé and participate in a practice interview.
Jasmine suggested that students gain experience in organizations, clubs, and leadership positions. These activities helped her during the interview process as she was able to showcase her relevant skills outside of the classroom.
Jasmine went through both the CPT and OPT processes. She encourages students to pay attention to essential deadlines for these processes. Jasmine added that students should recognize that even if a company does not sponsor H-1B they may still offer an internship.
Research Industry & Organizations/Networking
Adnan used LinkedIn, Handshake, and Glassdoor to network and find opportunities. He first found an employer, looked up names of individuals, and then reached out to them in Handshake. Next, he used keyword searches to research industry terms, and then he did direct searches on various company websites to learn more about the employers.
Yin Ma explained that networking opportunities were significant. While at UConn, Yin joined networking events that the professors recommended. All of the job opportunities she received were from networking. Similar to Adnan, Yin searched about the company, found employees to connect with, and eventually secured a referral on LinkedIn for a position. Yin also utilized the Husky Mentor Network and Handshake for networking. Yin offered the tip that job seekers should change their status on LinkedIn to “open to work” so companies can begin looking for them.
Pooja also found her current internship via LinkedIn. Like Yin, she reached out to employees on LinkedIn and asked them for referrals. When preparing for the interview, she researched the company, the role of the title, and learned about the industry.
Stepping up from Internship to a Full-Time Position
Two of the panelists began their jobs as interns and worked their way up to full-time positions.
Pooja started at Red Hat as an intern. She explained that she had one-on-one meetings with members of the larger work team, took the opportunity to ask about future projects, contributed during meetings, and offered to assist on projects whenever possible. Even if the position is remote, she suggested that you make yourself visible, meet everyone and learn about opportunities. She asked her manager for a list of people she should meet and connected with other interns. Like Pooja, Jasmine began an internship at EY and moved up to a full-time position as an Assurance Associate at EY.
Learning Beyond the Classroom
Experiential learning can teach students a great deal about professional work expectations.
Yin held an internship in China where she learned about teamwork, responsibility, and meeting deadlines. She also learned how to think systematically and solve problems. Further, she improved her communication and interpersonal skills. Yin said, “learning beyond the classroom allows you to apply your learning and your classwork helps you to learn how to think.”
Adnan explained that during his internship, he gained access to technologies and techniques that could be applied back into his research at UConn. He also learned about company culture and professionalism. In addition, he observed what is appropriate to discuss in meetings, how to lead teams and how to participate in project management discussions.
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) Workshops & Sponsorship
Adnan encouraged students to attend CPT workshops and connect with their ISSS advisor. He explained that once you find a position, you get an offer letter that gets registered with ISSS, and your academic advisor will complete information about your program.
The question of sponsorship will come up in the application process. Pooja encourages students to state that they need sponsorship upfront. She explained that if you have a conversation with Human Resources about OPT and desire to work with the company long-term, communicate that you will need H-1B.
When applying for jobs and internships, rejections are often inevitable. Yin recommended not to take rejection personally. Instead, she suggested learning from it. Yin went back to the job descriptions and asked herself whether or not she addressed some of the company’s expectations on her résumé and during the interview process. She then improved the next time she applied to another position.
You are encouraged to visit International Student and Scholar Services and the Center for Career Development for help with your career preparation. Wishing you success as you navigate the U.S. job and internship process!