T.L.’s story reminds me of a question someone asked me before: “You want a job in the U.S., but do you really have what it takes?”
I regretted not taking STEM courses, not falling in love with my major (yet) before I enrolled in school (therefore no real passion or motivation), not gaining more years of professional experience when I was in Vietnam, etc. But the fact is, I can’t go back in time, so my solution is…to move on and roll with life. My motivation started coming from challenging my life every single day, holding my breath and jumping out of my comfort zone every single day, teaching myself much more difficult technical skills (you need hard skills for well-paid jobs in the U.S., the things that experienced people can’t do, but you can do well if you learn so that experienced people have to hire you). It’s painfully fun!!!!! I failed, I broke down, but I also became undefeatable and surprisingly strong inside. My confidence built up each day till I actually believed that I would definitely get what I worked hard for and what I deserved. More importantly, I knew what the real job market expects from me. Just because of that, I got lots of interviews and landed an offer!!!
Bachelor of Commerce from RMIT Vietnam (learnt all the global soft skills that I have never known if I went to a Vietnamese university). Professional experience includes 1 year as Universal Banker in Citibank (sales job, result of no life orientation because of my happy life in Vietnam). Then got disappointed in my job, took 1 year off to study GMAT, but opened an English class and became a Latin dance instructor to keep my life balanced. After that, I enrolled the master program in Finance in the U.S. I started to realize how much I wanted to get a job in this country (if you want to seek motivation, be friends with Indian students, they are incredibly hard working and career-focused, you can learn a lot from them), so I volunteered to be the assistant treasurer for a non-profit organization (very good if you want to put something on your resume and build your experience while there is no harm to your visa because you don’t have to report to school if it’s volunteer job). Having that opportunity through a networking event (I signed up an event called “Networking” from Ascend, talked to everyone, felt very uncomfortable and spitted out everything about my dream job honestly, got help and referral from a nice lady and got a great volunteer job). Since I kept that job for the entire school period, I now have directly relevant experience for almost 2 years!!!! I started applying for the full time job 5 months before graduation, both online and through networking, reaching out to every possible person I thought that might help. I got quite many interviews in the 3th month onwards, and getting an offer became just the matter of time.
My lessons and advice
Never believe in any discouraging comments that people tell you such as you lack experience, your major sucks because it is too general, you have 1%, you are running out of time, blah blah blah. Why? Because I proved them wrong and because they are wrong. I honestly had no real good and direct experience (I do if you count the volunteer job, but it is not always convincing). I did not have any finance background or knowledge before I came to US. So no paper knowledge + no good experience, but I got many interviews and I landed an offer (could be more if my work visa came earlier).
Be strong, cry, hurt, then be stronger
The important personality you need in every competition (I don’t mean anything fancy, just your own competition to have a better life for yourself) is confidence and strength. But before you can become stronger, you need to make mistakes, throw yourself under the wheels, be broken, be alone, be embarrassed. Only those bad moments will give you more strength to go, not a happy and relaxing moments :-).
Do difficult things, stay away from easy things
Winners never like easy competition, so do we, job landers! If you feel comfortable with your life, you are going down. Stay away from easy tasks and spend more time in doing something difficult, more and more everyday. I tried to read Wall Street Journal every morning even waking up late at 11 am in the morning, or on an early bus at 6am for my summer internship. I taught myself advanced Excel skill, which I never use or learn in any kinds of master classes or previous jobs. But guess what, those few extra hours got me this final job offer when they tested me all advanced skills. Just by spending a little more time to do a little more difficult task, you are better than many others who just watch TV :-).
I can’t stress enough how much I believe in hard work. At the end, you deserve what you truly deserve. Never waste a minute in a stupid party when you worry about getting a job in the next 1 year (or 2 years). Remain in your desk (or anywhere you feel comfortable, think seriously about where you want to be when you graduate, what types of jobs do you think you will have a chance to get – it may be different from the job that you like though, what skills do you have now and what other skills you need to achieve that job, who you have to meet to ask for experience/advise, how to connect and talk to them, what questions (the ones that you can’t find answers from online sources) to ask, etc. Be patient and follow your strategy until the end (you have nothing to lose anyway). Open your eyes, receive your job offer the next day and go grab a beer :-). You are now busy developing the next plan on how to behave in an office!!!! Good luck!!!!