International students offered advice for the job search

As the final fall semester event of the College of William & Mary’s first extended orientation for international students, over 30 undergraduate and graduate students gathered at the Cohen Career Center on Saturday, November 12 for an International Student Success Series seminar, International Students and the Job Search.

Kicking off the multi-part event was an interactive lecture on immigration law by Debra C. Dowd, Esq. of law firm LeClairRyan. After a brief introduction to the United States immigration system, Dowd offered the audience specific information on various visa options for non-nationals interested in working in the U.S. Throughout her presentation Dowd fielded questions from the audience, including when to disclose the need for sponsorship in a job interview, if there are hidden fees associated with various visa options, and if visas transfer from employer to employer. 

Wendy Webb-Rober, assistant director of the Cohen Career Center, noted the importance of having an event specifically for international students.

“I’m not really telling them anything that I haven’t told other students,” said Webb-Rober, “It’s just the comfort level of being with other students facing the same challenges. Of course the immigration lawyer piece was huge. It is an important piece that other students aren’t facing.”

Following the immigration presentation, a panel of one W&M international student and two W&M international alumni explored how specific individuals found employment in the United States. Farida Sawadogo MBA ’10, of Burkina Faso, and Yongshuk (Terry) Kim ’12, of South Korea, offered students advice on how they successfully negotiated interviews and negotiations. Deepinder Singh, MBA ’10, of India, joined the conversation via Skype.

“You have to let other people know you are looking for a job,” said Sawadogo, who now works for the Peace Operations Training Institute, a Williamsburg-based public charity which offers distance-learning courses on United Nations peacekeeping. “Looking for a job should be a full-time position. You have to do it every day. And don’t just go to a website and send in your resume. Go and meet people, it’s all about networking.”

For Kim, who recently accepted a position with Deloitte, the differences between interviews in South Korea and the United States was something to take into account during his job search. “I found differences between interviews. In Korea, we have 10 interviewers and 10 interviewees. Here it’s more of a likeability test. You have to make sure they like you, that’s how I view it.”

After answering questions prepared by the Eva Wong of the Office of International Students, Scholars, and Programs, the panelists answered audience questions on everything from what to do if an interviewer begins to speak on a cultural topic of which the international student is unfamiliar to why international students might want to remain in the United States.

Bronwen Watts, the Reves Center for International Studies intern largely responsible for the International Student Success Series, described the event as a success, and useful to international students.

“Career issues are among the biggest concerns for international students. It’s a tough job market for anyone, and international students sometimes have a harder time. They have questions on immigration, and a lot of them have concerns about making small talk and how to network, so we just put everything together in one place.”