The story about Nguyen, a Bryant graduate who declined H-1B sponsorship opportunity to pursuit her dream.
When Toan asked me to share my story about how I got my job in the US, I didn’t know where to start. As I am writing to you right now, I am preparing to leave my job as an analyst for a Master’s degree at Bocconi University in Milan. To some people, it may seem (a little bit?) crazy to leave it all behind to pursue something uncertain like this. Not gonna lie, I even doubt it myself sometimes. But as a saying says “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” – I wouldn’t know until I try. However, I do hope that my story, along with others on this page, will inspire you to take the first step to pursue your dream.
A bit of my background: I’m currently working as a product development analyst at Infinata, a data solution company that specializes in aggregated intelligence for companies in biopharma industry. I graduated from Bryant University in 2015 with a bachelor in Economics (with minors in BA, Marketing, and Cultural Studies). If you look at my resume, there’s no coherent theme: my experiences change from economics to marketing and then to tech. “How the heck did this girl get a job?”, you may ask. Well, here’s my story and how I got to it today.
Let’s rewind back to summer 2013, second summer after sophomore year. My mom, who had enough of me being a lazy ass at home, decided that I need to do something useful with my time. So she hooked me up with an “internship” at Dentsu Alpha, a marketing agency. My role back then was literally the office busgirl: running around doing photocopying job and other office task. Then, I was placed in a project that involves developing a TV show for one of our clients. That internship was a lot of fun because I was the tester of all the games for the show. Even though I didn’t learn any technical skill, but it was a good talking point on my resume that I used a lot to leverage in my interviews. It demonstrates that I am a risk-taker and willing to try new things.
Then comes my junior year. I always have a case of a travelling bug and can never stay in one place for too long, so I chose Florence to spend my spring semester. After that semester, I felt in love with Europe: the culture, the architecture, the food, the people… I love every single bit about it and want to stay there more. And this is why I am going back to Italy to do my master.
During that semester abroad I managed to secure an internship for the summer through Skype interview. Summer 2014, I started my internship as a marketing assistant for a tech firm in Houston. My role was to scrub through list of prospects for our marketing blast, so I worked with a lot of data. This company is very tech-savvy, so during down time, I learnt a little bit about HTML and CSS. I left this internship with some computing skills under my belt.
Back to Bryant for my senior year, I was aware that I needed to get my game on if I wanted to find a job in the US. I knew that finding a job with an economics degree is not gonna be easy. Like let’s be real, what am I gonna do with it? I don’t have any research background to do research, or finance background to dive into the financial industry. All I had was some computing skills. So what did I do? I used this to my advantage. While looking for jobs, I noted down what computing skills they require, and took classes for those skills. In one semester, I tried to learn more about VBA, STATA and Eviews. I changed my game plan and only looked for jobs that would allow me to use my coding and quant skills.
Again, with luck, I applied to my current job through my school job portal. I was invited to an interview. Days before the interview, I made sure I took time to research about the company: what they do, what kind of products they are offering, where their offices located (because I was curious and it could be some talking points during the interview).
Then comes the interview day. Infinata is a data-focused company, and they work a lot with SQL. Even though I had no idea how to write a single query at time, I insisted that I was willing to learn new skills. I also brought up some questions I prepared in advance. I showed that I was interested in their product, and how I could advance my career from there. During my interview, I also brought up the topic of travelling and working abroad. I guess the interviewers had a good impression with me because we spent time bonding over how much we loved gelato and pizza. So my tips for you during the interview would be: come prepared, wow them with your knowledge about the company and the products, try to find a bonding point, prove that you are willing to learn, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
While working at Infinata, I was learning a lot from people around. I met a lot of interesting and smart people, and those people push me to thrive in my career. I learnt so much more in just a year. Yet, I always crave to go back to school and to Europe. Realizing my chance of getting a job there is better with a degree, I decided to go to school there. It is scary, but really, I am young and is prepared for what may come. So in April, I talked to my manager and HR, politely declined their H1B sponsorship, and ready to embark on my next adventure.
So at this point, you would ask “What is the point of your story, really?” Well I don’t know. I am no mean an expert in finding a job in the U.S since I was lucky enough to get this opportunity through my school’s job connections, and I also don’t have any wise advice for you guys. However, I hope that when you read my story, you’ll find something useful for yourself: it can be interviewing tips, or what technical skills you may need. I also hope that my story would make you feel at ease when you’re looking at the future. Up until now, I have always embraced what comes my way and make the best out of it, and it seems to be working pretty well. Yes, it could be scary to not knowing what is going to happen next. But take a deep breath, and brace yourself for what will happen, because “life is what happens when you are busy making plans” (-John Lennon).