HUY NGUYEN – Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Huy Nguyen, a recent MBA graduate from Iowa State University thought that he would never have a chance of getting a job interview in the U.S. He is now working full time for a company in Minneapolis following his summer internship last year.

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My job/internship hunting was an intense and painful process and my mood was down for numerous times during that long journey. However, in the tough times, I was inspired a lot by many people I met and many success stories I read along the way. Therefore, I hope that my story could partly help you to have more determination and motivation in your job search too. My message here is very simple: if I can do it, so can you!

I graduated from a university back in my home country and got my MBA at Iowa State University. When I came to the U.S. 2 years ago, my speaking and listening skills were so terrible that I didn’t think I could even get an interview, let alone a job. In the first recruitment season during the fall semester at business school, my bad English ruined all my hard work. When I met employers at career fair, I kept asking them to repeat their questions and they did the same to me :-D. Although I felt really frustrated and hopeless, I knew that I have to work hard to improve my English. And I did.

I participated in as many activities/clubs/associations as I can (and I partied a lot too :-D). I stepped out of my comfort zone to run for several positions at those organizations. Lucky enough, I was elected to the MBA Association Cabinet as Networking Coordinator. While working on this position, I had a lot of chances to talk with many people from students, alumni, faculties to recruiters. This not only helped me improve my English but also built up my confidence. My hard-work was finally paid off in the second recruitment season in spring semester. I got several internship offers and one of them groomed into my current full time-job.

Let’s me now get into details how I landed my internship through career fair. Preparing for the career fair took me much more time than I expected. I wrote my cover letter, resume and elevator speech and had my native friends reviewed them for me. I then worked with the Career Service in my school to finalize these documents. These are very important files so I wanted to make sure that they are error-free. I did tons of research to figure out my dream job and career path. I also took several personality tests to find jobs that fit my personality. It is extremely important to at least know basic things about companies at career fair such as their industry, their history, and their recent events… Believe or not, not doing research enough about company before going to career fair is one of the most common mistakes for job seekers. Doing homework can help you to easily stand out from the crowd. Following-up after career fair/interview is also very important. It showed how interested you are in the companies and the jobs. I have the feeling that in the U.S., sometimes, it is unnecessary the best candidate will get the job but it is the one who wants the job most. In my case, after the final round interview with my current company, I followed up with them several times before getting a rejection email. Many may consider a rejection email is like an end. I think differently. And below is my response:

“While I’m disappointed that I have not been chosen for the …..position, I appreciate the opportunity to interview with you and ….. team.
Since I’m always looking for ways to grow professionally, do you have any suggestions on what I can do to enhance my candidacy for future opportunities? I respect your opinion and appreciate any feedback you might have.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,”

I got a call the following day with an offer. My internship hunting was over. I called my girlfriend and she was very excited since my company is close to a big Mall! 😀

In my opinion, getting an internship is already half way to get full-time job. The remaining half, off course, depends on how you perform during your internship. If you want to convert your internship into full-time job, my first advice for you is to work hard, really hard. At the first day of my internship, I asked my boss about his expectations and then I worked my butt off to exceed them. And I did. My second advice is to always try to improve the company’s current operational performance or whatever you think can be improved. Last but not least, try to get along well with your teammates since teamwork is critical in the US.

I want to conclude my story by again saying that job searching is a very long and painful process. But if I can do it, so can you.

I am looking forward to reading your story on How I got my job in the U.S. Good luck!

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