Career Advice for International Students

Even before I came to the United States, I heard people talk about how challenging it could be for international students to find a job. The truth is, finding a job isn’t hard, but finding a satisfying job that matches your career interest, and also one that provides sponsorship, can be hard. But don’t panic – with proactivity and a lot of preparation, international students can land a dream job just like their American peers.

 

One thing you can do from the first day of college, just like every other student, is to start building up your resume. This means a lot of exploration of what you want to do, and a lot of hard work into finding the best experiences for your dream career. From my personal experience, during my freshman year, I talked to a lot of alumni whom I found on LinkedIn. They shared with me a lot of valuable experiences both at Rice and at work, and really gave me an insider’s view about their industries. It really helped me figure out what I want to do, or at least what I don’t want to do, which is equally important. After I figured out what I wanted to do for career, I began doing research with a professor whose field matches my career interest. I am also involved in a student club, which is of pure interest when I first joined it, but really helped demonstrate my leadership ability on my resume and during interviews later on.

 

One thing leads to another, and soon you will find you have a lot of interesting experiences (club activity, volunteer work, job experience, etc.) to put on your resume. Then what? One thing that worked for me is to apply for as many positions that interest me, and reach out to as many people as possible. One side note is that when you apply, make sure you find out if the company offers sponsorship or not. This way you can save a lot of your energy in filling out personal information and writing cover letters. And some of the best people you can reach out to are upperclassmen who have applied for the position/interned at the company, people you meet at the info sessions and Career Expo on campus, alumni you find and connect with on LinkedIn, and many more. You never know which one will eventually work out, but it is good to build up your network!

 

And one last thing, be open up to new ideas and be persistent! There are a lot of opportunities out there, so don’t limit yourself or give up too fast. The perfect job may be right around the corner!

 

- Rachel Li, PCA, Jones College Class of 2016

Post Expo

Now after Career Expo, what should we do? In the following paragraphs, I will discuss about the things you might want to do after Expo.

 

  • Submit your application

Don’t forget to submit online application. During the career expo, I’m sure you have find some companies that you are interested in. While some companies take you resume as a form of application, most companies still need you to submit online application on their website. Therefore, it is important for you to sort out the flyers you have collected and decide what companies you want to apply.

 

  •       Follow up

Now you might have got many business cards. It’s time to follow up! Send a brief email to the people you talked to during the Career Expo. The emails do not have to be long. State your major, your interest and why you are interested in the company. It’s always good to mention your conversation with the recruiters at the Expo. Say something that helps them to remember who you are.

 

  • Check on RiceLink

There are companies that recruit on RiceLink, but they did not go to Career Expo. Some companies that showed up on Career Fair may also need you to apply on RiceLink. So check on RiceLink and apply the jobs you are interested in.

 

  • Use Linkedin

It is wise to connect with alumni you met during Expo on Linkedin. It is also time for you to complete your Linkedin profile. Make sure you have correct information about your major, interest, and past experience.

 

  • Some tips
    • It is important to be organized. Keep track of the companies and representatives you talked to. Make sure read those flyers and try your best to reflect your interactions with them.
    • Sending a thank you note or connect on Linkedin helps you get connected with more people.
    • Write some summaries about potential improvements for preparation for future Expo. For example, what are the topics you think that are proper to discuss with those representatives? What did they say? How can you improve your elevator pitch?
    • Mark the companies that you might be interested in in the future. Maybe you are looking for internship right now, and some companies are only recruiting for full-time. Mark those companies, so that you will remember to check on them when you are finally looking for full-time during senior year.

    - Karen Yu, Jones PCA

Time to Come Up with Summer Plans

Freshmen, sophomores and juniors – If not already, now is the time to start coming up with summer plans! Without the homework and exams that take up your time during the school year, summer is a perfect time for some great plans and fun experiences. You certainly do not want to sit at home all day and get bored while all your friends on Facebook are all having a great time studying abroad or doing cool summer jobs. To prevent that from happening – now it’s a good time to start planning for your summer!

 

In this blog I will discuss a few options that will guarantee you a fun and rewarding summer. So please take a look!

 

  • Service trips & Studying abroad

 

In case you haven’t heard, the Community Involvement Center at Rice University offers some great programs for students to do services within the country and abroad. These service programs offer chances for personal and professional development, and they offer you the chance to look into the issue you are interested in, learn about a different culture, and have a great time abroad! So make sure to check them out! (http://cic.rice.edu/GIS/)

 

Another great way to discover opportunities abroad is through the Study Abroad office at Rice University. Find some time to go through the many programs on their website, and set up an appointment to talk with a Study Abroad Advisor, and you might find a great program for you. Depending on your interest, you might be able to learn a foreign language or take summer courses that count as university credit while having a great time traveling abroad! (http://abroad.rice.edu/)

 

 

  • Research opportunities

 

One thing that many undergraduate students do not know is that they can easily get involved with a research project just through talking with their professors at Rice. The research might be independent research conducted by the professor or might involve many other institutes such as the Medical Center. If you are interested in academia, want to go to graduate school after college, or just want to explore your interest in the major you are studying, doing research is a great way to accomplish all of these. Some of the research topics are very interesting, but make sure that you talk with the professors in detail before you start, so you know what to expect from the research and what is expected from you.

 

  • Internships

 

With so many on-campus info sessions and interviews going on everyday, it is not surprising that many students choose internships as a way to spend their summer. Although most big name companies hire juniors for their internship positions, there are a number of companies that offer different opportunities for underclassmen as well. There are many ways to find an internship for your summer, such as going to RICELink on the CCD website, networking with alumni on LinkedIn (Do not have LinkedIn yet? Setting up a LinkedIn Account is super fast! Already have LinkedIn? Make sure to check out and join the OWL Career Mentor Network!), or simply going to the company websites that you are interested in and search for their openings. You might be surprised at how many potential opportunities you can find!

 

 

The above is a list of only a few of the many great ways to spend your summer! How you spend your time really depends on what you want – spend more time with family? Be more fluent in a foreign language? Do services abroad? Or work for a great company and gain professional experience? There are many great resources at Rice and make sure to check them out!

- Rachel Li,

PCA, Jones College Class of 2016

 

Fix Up Your Resume! 5 Easy Steps

In my last blog, I talked about staying in the job search even if you have a job, and one of the things that often gets forgotten and left undone is updating the ol’ resume. Here are 5 easy steps to fix up and improve your piece of paper!

Step 1. Banish all outdated information from your resume.

Are you a freshman? Still acceptable. Are you a sophomore? It’s been TWO years since you’ve graduated. Are you a junior? It’s been THREE. Are you a senior? Silence. What I’m talking about is the classic high school adage: including your high school experiences on your resume. Employers don’t care about which high school you attended or what you did there. Fill your resume with current accomplishments; it’s time to take the high school out of your resume.

Step 2. Don’t include unnecessary information.

Your resume serves to show your experiences and accomplishments. And only your experiences and accomplishments. Employers don’t want to read anything too descriptive, such as “creative innovator”, or “excellent leader”. They will ignore these because they should be in a cover letter, not your resume, so just stick to objective facts. Also, stick to one page. Two pages is unnecessary for a resume, and it mostly likely means that you’re going into too much detail.

Step 3. Only include strengthening information, not weakening.

Remember that you only have 5-10 seconds to catch your employer’s interest. This means that you don’t want to waste that time giving them information that would lose their interest or even hurt your application. For example, short-term jobs are big red flags. The hiring manager will wonder if you were fired, if you quit, or just couldn’t do the work. So make sure you have an explanation that won’t reflect poorly on you. Next time you’re applying for a job, make sure to consider how long you think you’ll be working there, and make sure that it will be long enough to not raise any red flags.

Step 4. Part 2 of Step 3.

The other thing about short-term jobs is that it’s unlikely for you to have shown any real accomplishments in such a short amount of time. A few months on a job is not enough to finish an important project or to advance in your workplace. This is why these kinds of experiences can’t help you to strengthen your resume, so don’t have it on your resume. This tip serves as a space-saver and job-saver.

Step 5. Don’t wreck your resume with distracting information.

Distracting information includes all of the above. It makes your resume look unprofessional and weakens your impression. The employer will think: “why does he/she need to dec out his/her resume so much? Is it because his or her skills and achievements do not speak for themselves?” I know you want to have a resume that is eye-catching and interesting, but the way to do that is through substance, not design. Upon seeing an unusual color scheme, your potential employer will only be seeing a tacky mess. What they actually want is a professional-looking resume, which means this is not an opportunity to be trying out new fonts.

- Alice Chen, Duncan PCA

Atypical Career Paths

 

Rice University helps students learn to adapt and problem-solve in life. The school teaches students to think at higher levels, and afterwards Rice graduates are prepared for all types of careers.

 

A lot of one’s life is influenced by luck and randomness. A person really can’t know how his or her life will end up, and that is a scary yet thrilling reality. Life-changing opportunities and career choices can come in many different ways, and I believe that there is a question that people should evaluate each of these decisions by. Will this career path bring me happiness and fulfillment down the road, or will I look back with regret at choosing it?

 

Each person is unique and has a variety of interests and strengths. There are boundless career path opportunities for people. Yet, a typical career path for a girl in a family of doctors might not be the typical career path for someone in a family of coal miners. People should think more openly when deciding on careers. As a college student, one should hope to pursue a career that provides him or her fulfillment and happiness.

 

Often, a career path is just a way to make a living to support one’s family. However, a career can be so much more. It can be a source of inspiration and pride to a person.

 

As a Rice student, I think of typical career paths as: doctors, lawyers, businessman, financial analysts, academics, writers, programmers, and engineers who work on various different projects. Although, I recognize that typical and atypical careers change over the years.

 

Technology has always disrupted “typical” career paths in human history. Due to the Internet, the newspaper industry has been hard hit and had to radically downsize. This has significantly reduced the demand for conventional newspaper journalists, which once was a very viable career option. There are countless examples of disruption in the economy over the years. One other example is how automation has eliminated the need for many manufacture jobs.

 

When Bill Gates pursued a career in computer science, he was pursuing an atypical career. Now, most universities have a lot of students who are computer science majors. It is not bad to take unconventional career paths. In fact, in life going against the masses is often a good thing. Financial investors often aim to be unconventional and make bets against the market’s “perceived” wisdom.

- George Randt, McMurtry PCA

Growing Your Network on LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn is an online platform that helps you to build connections for your career. It’s a research tool to find jobs, organizations, and recruiters. You can build connections with the industry experts who are willing to share advice and their connections with you job seekers directly. If you are good at utilizing this “social” network, it will build the bridge for you to obtain your ideal career.

Yet before getting that job there are a few things you need to do:

  1. Build a perfect profile

A good LinkedIn profile is a means to brand and propaganda an entry level student to a well-rounded, experienced, and intelligent employee. A good profile is specific, complete, professional, and concise.

There are a few things you should do:

-Use professional looking profile picture

-Make your profile heading pop. For example, not “Rice student”, but “chemical Engineer/Business minor student, Rice University”.

-Include volunteer work, summer jobs, Rice Leadership activities, Research projects, internships, and community in experience. A frequency ask question is—what kind of abilities or experience should I put on my resume? A good way to taylor the information is to research the abilities that your dream company is looking for.

It’s never an easy and quick process to edit your LinkedIn profile. Furthermore, an ideal profile is based on the abilities and experience you had. In other words, you need to design your ideal image and strive for the experience. If you want to be a consultant, the experience that prove you are very outgoing and good at communicating will be very beneficial. Everything in the process of job seeking is painful; yet, fortunately, once done, you can enjoy the self-achievement, the salary, and the joy of watching the others’ struggling in it, which is more fun.

  1. Grow your network

One common and annoying situation is that your dream company doesn’t have application jobs when you search on RiceLink. Here comes the importance of networking. If you have connections with the employees in that company, you can get more information than your competitors. Is there anyone in the company you can link with, such s family friend or Rice alumni? Don’t be afraid to send a message to someone you’ve never talked to. most Rice alumni are happy to help you, but people are always busy. If you forget to respond, wait patiently and send another message politely.

Another way to grow network is to join groups related to your professional interests. Parents, job seekers, entry level students, employers and alumni are all in the groups. They are perfect people to connect to.

 

 

- Nebula Han, Martel College PCA

“I wish I didn’t have to set up an appointment and could just walk in to the CCD…”

 

You can! Walk-in hours are held at the Huff House from 12-1pm, M-F in the lobby area. Take the shuttle, or take a really nice walk over now that it’s not so muggy outside anymore. You can walk in and have your questions answered about CCD resources, and get help with your resume! Need someone to look over the formatting? Or to read over your experience descriptions to make sure they are clear and sophisticated enough? Does your resume need to be restructured for college? Do I need a cover letter? What is the difference between a CV and a resume? What’s a resume?! Your friendly neighborhood Peer Career Advisors are here for you.

Things to remember when you come in for Walk-in Hours:

1)    You don’t need to dress up. We are dressed like normal civilians too.

2)    Bring whatever resume you have. Even if you don’t have one. We don’t judge.

3)    We have water. So you can’t say it’s too far of a walk.

4)    The Huff House is located behind the Mcmurtry beach volleyball courts, and next to Brown Commons.

5)    Hours: 12-1pm, M-F.

It’s also a great time to get to know your PCAs. There’s bound to be a different one every day, so come as many times as you like! It’s at lunchtime, there’s no need for an appointment, and this is another valuable CCD resource that you don’t want to miss out on!

 

-Alice Chen, Duncan Peer Career Advisor

How to Make The Most Out of Your Winter Break

 

Congratulations for making it through the first semester of the 2014-2015 school year! We hope that you all have a relaxing and wonderful winter break! In between relaxing, spending time with family and friends, and catching up on sleep, remember to use your free time wisely! These quick and easy steps can make preparing for your spring activities a breeze!

1)         Add relevant courses from the fall semester that complement your desired career field to your resume. Remember to include a short description of the course!

2)        Add jobs, internships or research positions you participated in during the fall semester. Remember to include a description of exactly what you did!

3)        Adjust your GPA with your new (and improved! ;-) ) cumulative GPA.

4)        Determine which of your fall classes you enjoyed the most and set an appointment with a CCD career counselor (http://ccd.rice.edu/appt/) to explore career fields associated with the subjects! This is great for undecided freshmen and sophomores!

5)         If you are interested in internships/research/jobs for the spring semester, sign on to Rice Link (http://ccd.rice.edu/jobs-internships/) and start exploring!

6)        If you are interested in internships/research/jobs for the summer, also start exploring these opportunities now. To prepare for summer opportunities, look at the available spring opportunities to get an idea of what the company is looking in their employees and interns.

7)        Establish goals that you have to build your resume or networking base in the spring semester. Follow the link to the CCD calendar (http://ccd.rice.edu/calendar/) and plan at least 2 events to attend with us!

Follow these tips to get a head-start before the spring semester! We look forward to seeing you in January! Enjoy the break & happy holidays!

 

- Amalya Lewinson, Wiess PCA

Pitch Perfect: Making Your Elevator Pitch Work for You

A job search can be overwhelming, to say the least. You’ve done the hard work of creating a killer resume and cover letter. Sometimes it’s easy to neglect another essential element as you prepare to meet potential employers: the elevator pitch.

As a Rice student, you come in with a built-in advantage.  Everyone knows you’re smart.

But smart alone isn’t enough to impress a potential employer.  You also need to be capable, confident, enthusiastic and collaborative. If you come to the table with applicable experiences, even better. And your elevator pitch needs to get all of that across in just 30 seconds! Yikes!

But wait! It’s really not that hard. Every one of you has tons to offer an employer. You just need to take the time to make your initial contact impressive and memorable.

Key Considerations

Be Personable and Confident

Smile. Look them in the eye. Offer your hand out first with a FIRM handshake. Use your full name when you introduce yourself.

Keep It Short

30 seconds is the goal. Remember why it’s called an Elevator Pitch. End by asking about potential opportunities. They will likely continue the conversation from there.

Dress Professionally

Think about how this company might expect their employees to dress. You are dressing for your future, not your college days.

Stand Out in the Crowd

It may be research, internships, jobs, civic projects or study abroad. What experience has your time at Rice given you that might be valuable to their company?

Be Enthusiastic

Everyone loves passion and enthusiasm in an applicant. If possible, know enough about the company to say why you want to work there.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Develop your speech ahead and practice in front of a mirror, with a friend or with someone at the CCD.

Relax and Be Yourself

Remember: they want you just as much as you want them. You are AWESOME. Take a deep breath and tell them why!

Steps for Creating your 30-Second Pitch

1) Greeting (including full name, handshake, eye contact, smile).

2) Indicate your class year and major.

3) What are you looking for? Internship or permanent position in what area?

4) Offer any notable experience(s) you’ve had that prepare you for this particular job.

5) Indicate why you want the position.

  • Internships will prepare you for future employment
  • Seeking this position to launch your career

6) Ask questions to continue the conversation

  • Are there any opportunities of this sort with your organization?
  • What advice could you give me based on my background and interests?
  • If I want to apply with your company in the future, what sort of experience do you value most?

7) As you part, shake hands again and thank them for their time.

Sample Pitch (It’s this simple!)

Hello. My name is Michelle Smith. (Handshake, eye contact, smile.)

I am a junior at Rice with a major in Sociology and Public Policy. I’ve had experience through an internship with the City of Houston and several research projects here at Rice. I’m especially interested in a position with your organization to gain experience toward my goal of working in policy development. Do you have any internship opportunities available in that area?

Conclusion

Learning how to tell people who you are and what you want will be an essential skill throughout your career. Taking the time now to develop this skill is well worth your time and effort. You are amazing. Learn how to let the world know!

- Karen McDonell, Rice Alum (Jones College, ’77)

I picked my major. Is that it?

College is the best time to explore majors and career options. However, even after you settle on a major, there are still tons of fun things, other than your major requirements, to check out.

Pick one or two clubs and get involved!

Rice has around 400 registered student organizations. Their areas range from volunteering to business networking, from sports to ballroom dance. You can always find something that you are interested in. We may all have the experience of signing up for numerous club listservs at the beginning of the semester but end up going to none of the events, and eventually get off the listserv. Why not pick one or two favorite clubs and get further involved? It is also great stuff to put on a resume – if you are active!


Community Outreach!

Colleges and many clubs have their own outreach programs, where you get to volunteer at local nonprofit organizations. It’s a great opportunity to make a positive impact on the Houston Community and be an active and engaged citizen. At the same time, Outreach is just one example of taking action of your values. The Alternative Spring Break programs and various service trips over summer are also great options to make contributions to the society. It would be even more awesome if you are on your way starting a new service program.


Intramural Sports!

People care a lot about fitness and health these days, and Rec Center is always a popular place on campus. If you are interested in exercising and stay fit, intramural sports games are great choices to demonstrate your strength and speed. At the same time, you get the chance to represent your college and receive overwhelming support from your college fellows!


These are just three simple examples of what you can do that may not be related to your major but are still valuable (and fun!). Follow your heart and do what you are interested in. It’s always good to explore life choices and it is a great way to meet people outside your college and major. Moreover, choosing a major is not equivalent to choosing a profession. Many people are doing something different than their major in the real world. Even when it comes to some specialized fields like engineering or accounting, no choice is set in stone. There is still enough time to try something different than your major and make sure you are working in your favorite field as long as you start from now.

 

- Lily Ma, Wiess PCA