PHOEBE PHUONG NGUYEN – Job hunting for internationals is tough, but possible

Job search experience from Phoebe Phuong Nguyen, a J2 visa holder.


Before I start, let me give you a quick explanation about my visa status in the US. My case is visa J2, a dependent of researcher visa and I have EAD valid for 3 years.

1. Define your “dream” job based on the need of the targeted job market

My background is Marketing communication in Consumer Packaged Goods, and to me it is strong enough for finding a corporate job in the U.S. It included 4 years experience Unilever and Nestle, and an MBA earned in Willamette University, Salem Oregon, it sounds like I can land on a job within 3 months. On contrary, reality hit me hard. After a few phone calls and on site interviews, I didn’t land on an offer although they are marketing corporate jobs same as what I did in Vietnam. The wait lasted for 8 lengthy months and I got a lesson. I got to know that those positions are super competitive and normally hire from top tier MBA program, and limited to US citizens or green card holder. Thus, I changed my strategy to apply for more data-driven job posts, or quantitative positions in Indiana.

2. Networking anytime, anywhere

The opportunity came when I joined a group of swing dancers at Purdue in their fall dance at Urbana- Champaign University. During the two hour drive one American friend shared with me about how he got his full time job and mentioned about Indianacareerconnect. I took that advice serious and applied few dozen of jobs more in the next 3 months, including the job post for Marketing Analyst. Reading the location, I found out that it’s in Fort Wayne, a city 2 hours from where we lived, but I just apply because the requirements are pretty basic. If you live out of Indiana, try to look up your state’s government job page like Caljobs.

3. Practice, practice, practice for the interview

Shortly after, Superior Essex called me for an interview and I passed 2 rounds of interviews, phone and in person. The phone interview was basic scanning on my job skills that can help for the position, which last half an hour with the HR manager and the Hiring manager. The in person interview was on site visit and meet with the whole team of Executive and Hiring manager. And among the questions that I received during the interview, I tried to link the answer with real story following STAR strategy (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to illustrate the story in the best way that I can. By the way, you can visit Careercake.come for useful coaching on interview techniques. I tried to build rapport with the interviewers, but a comfortable manner and a very open attitude for relocation. Side note is that it’s very common in the US for people to move and start a job far away from their family.

4. The offer

After 2 weeks, I got the phone call from HR again announcing that I was offered the job. Surprisingly, the annual salary is much higher (almost $20k) than the amount they offered in the job ad. That was really one of the best days of my life. I did it, getting an exciting job with a well-paid salary with a US based company. Later I bought a really nice car and give birth to my daughter when working there, and most importantly gain many critical skills working in marketing research and analytics.

Lastly, the winner in the career game is usually the one who is well-informed about opportunities rather than the one who has the right career plan. So good luck to all the job hunters out there!

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