LEVIAN (YINGYIN) LIANG – Capture Every Opportunity

From China, Levian came to the U.S. as an exchange student but decided to stay for her degrees. She landed a job here by following what she calls “traditional ways”. Those “traditional ways” are working hard, being prepared and being patient.

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Before starting job search, it’s important to think about where do you want to end up and where is your motivation, what career you would want to pursue? Do you see yourself working in the U.S.? If you shrug your shoulder and think, ‘meh, why not’ then you might as well not start looking. Because ‘meh’ is not going to take you very far in the job searching process. For me, it was not easy, there were some sleepless nights, but patience and perseverance has led me to start a career in the U.S.

I have decided to pursue a career in the U.S. since sophomore year in college. My journey was slightly different to start with as I came to the states as an exchange student, but decided to stay till I got my degree. During my undergraduate academia, I worked as a Resident Assistant for 2 years to get myself comfortable to the social life and environment, and at the same time improved my English skills. At that time, I was not aware of the importance of networking. After submitting many resumes and going through some interviews, I did not get a job right away after my college graduation.

Considering my undergraduate college was in the middle of nowhere, I decided to go for my Masters’ degree in Finance in the Boston area, where there will be more opportunities for anyone who has a degree in Finance. I chose Bentley after a lengthy application process because it is known for its focus in the business field, alumni relations and career services.

Of course, I don’t just automatically land a job because I chose the school that has good alumni connections and high job placements for graduates. Everyone works just as hard to land a job and sometimes when I look back, I didn’t feel that I had tried any harder than most people. However, I do believe that as long as you don’t stop trying and don’t lose hope, it will happen. I have tried the below traditional approaches:

1. Attend career fairs, target companies’ events, socials.

Grad school studies means long hours and efforts, if you happened to have an internship during a regular semester, it will be hard to attend every career event. You don’t want to sacrifice your study time because a high GPA is important to get your resume stand out in a pile. Be selective and go to the ones that you are most interested. Some people think that going to every event will increase their exposure to employers and therefore landing interviews. My experience told me that it’s better to be prepared and go the ones that you are most interested in landing a career with. In this way, you can go full force in company searching, alumni searching with your limited time.

2. Network with alumni and even classmates: know what you want and show your passion once you are able to get information interviews.

Network every chance you get. This might not be applicable for all, but when I was in graduate school, most of my classmates were already employed and working towards their degree by attending classes after work. When you were in group projects, those were the times that you could show your knowledge and that you are a team player.

Getting in touch with alumni could be slightly harder, but nagging your career services or even go out of your way to connect with the school alumni could be a way to go. I was able to land interviews with several companies trying this way.

3. Capture every opportunity.

I was working in a Private Equity firm one of the semesters and the company hosted an annual event in New York to gather and connect investors. Before the event I was surprised to know that one of our alumni is one of the Managing Directors at Morgan Stanley and happened to be a major sponsor to the event. I did my research on the field that he was in and walked up to him to introduce myself at the day of the event. He was surprised that I knew that he went to Bentley and suggested reconnecting back in Boston. There were emails back and forth but I was able to land an information interview. I did not land a job in MS but he is still my mentor to date and had helped me got into interviews with other firms before.

4. Be prepared and apply for positions all year round, don’t wait for recruiting season.

There is never such thing called non-recruitment season, some companies recruit with a set timeline yearly (like Investment Banks, Big four etc.), some hire whenever they have the positions open. There is always a hiring need for companies out there, and some are even big corporations, so keep an eye on the application deadlines for some companies, but don’t just focus on the a set period of time.

For example, I got into some Big Four interviews but didn’t get the positions after final rounds. Indeed, missing the Big Four recruiting this year means that I most likely have to wait for a year if I want to apply for any big four positions again. Did I wait, no I didn’t. There are many good companies out there, and as a matter of fact, I had just as many interviews during late December to February.

5. Draft a list of targeted companies, and track of networking or application progress.

At the beginning of job searching, from time to time I did feel that I was not following any directions but going with the follow. Talking to career services at school and even my peers in school helped. I started to draft a list of target companies I wanted to work for, and looked for whether or not there were any alumni in those companies that I could network with. Do more than just go to the companies’ website and submit application, keep track of the process of networking and applications to positions will take you a step ahead of many others.

6. Submit tons of resumes.

I did not reply on networking with alumni solely, it works well in most occasions, but it is not pure magic. There are companies that are out of alumni radars that I applied for as well. The company that I am working for currently is one of those I submitted resume to and got picked up from a pile. There are no methods that will guarantee this works, but if you don’t give a shoot, nothing will happen. It‘s better trying than not if it is something you want to pursue.

All I want to share is that I relied on my patience and perseverance. Unlike some of my peers who tried creative approaches or even bold moves to land jobs, I followed the traditional ways and taken in all advice that has proven to work in the past. If you think the above works for you, then capture every opportunity and be patient, it will pay off.

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