Advice by Dan Beaudry, Author of Power Ties

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Do you need a visa to do a job in U.S.?

Do you want a job in the U.S.? You can get one. And my first recommendation towards getting it is to forget (for a while) that you need a visa. Winning a job in the U.S. is much more about motivating a company to want you than immigration rules and company policies.  Most senior managers (and experienced recruiters) will tell you that if an organization wants to hire someone badly enough, they don’t let immigration paperwork, or company policies against sponsoring, stand in their way. For them, their new hire represents revenue generated, expenses cut, or important problems solved: all of which are well worth the inconvenience of sponsorship. This is why I tell international students, and others hoping to secure U.S. employment, that their orientation MUST be value first and visa second.

I’d like to share with you some specific things that you can do to put this orientation into practice, but before I do, it’s probably useful for you to know who the heck I am! After many years in recruiting and working with international job seekers, I decided to write a book outlining the job search system that I’d seen regularly produce visa sponsorships. People have asked me why I wrote it, and the best answer is that people needed it. In fact, my wife needed it!  She is from Madrid and (prior to our marriage) found herself in much the same situation that many of you face: professional ambitions, settling into a foreign country, facing work visa barriers. Certainly, marrying an American smoothed her path to employment a bit. But I’ll assume none of you have been driven to contemplate that option at this stage!

Because I have a full-time job in sales, my book has been a side business of passion since its publication in 2009. But over the past four years, I’ve been squeezing in presentations to students and alumni at universities around the country—perhaps some of the schools your spouse attend (if you are on F2 visa). And one of the most important concepts I try to drive through is something that every sales person knows: don’t lead with your costs. Your visa represents an expense that your future employer will need to bear in order to hire you—an expense your employer would not face if he/she decided to hire an American. If you start your job search conversations asking employers if they ‘sponsor’ or not, you’ve made two mistakes: 1. You’ve given them a quick reason to screen you out of consideration if they don’t sponsor, 2. You’ve asked them to bear an extra cost without yet showing them what they get for it. Why should someone pay more for you? There may be very good reasons, but you’ve got to have a chance to articulate those reasons before you’re removed from consideration. This is why I say value first, visa (cost) second—always.

Here is a quick list of some other specific things to do or not do in your US job search.  There is obviously much more to be said on all of these:

– Determine, and become convinced of your value to an employer.  Ask yourself, would you hire you for the job you’re seeking?
– Conduct informational interviews with people who are doing what you’d like to be doing. This will help you better understand your value, and help build connections.
– Conduct informational interviews with other internationals who have followed the same path.
– Don’t ever ask for a job in an informational interview.
– Keep track of informational conversations you’ve had with people, and stay in touch with meaningful and customized follow up.
– Connect other people for their mutual benefit even when you stand to gain nothing.
– Don’t reach out to human resources unless you want a job in human resources.
– Don’t apply online unless asked to do so by someone who you think already want to hire you.
– Approach companies that aren’t on everyone’s target list.
– Speak for yourself instead of relying on a resume to do it for you.

There are many more elements to the job search system I outline in my book, but the most critical element of your U.S. job search will be your drive. If you have a burning desire to work in the U.S., I hope you’ll give yourself a chance to make it happen. That desire will motivate you to do things that your competition will find too uncomfortable (such as reaching out to people you don’t know for informational interviews.) If you are on F2 visa, have you considered that your spouse may be one of these competitors? Do you think a little friendly competition from you might motivate you both to work a little harder and reach a little higher? I would love to hear from any of you who get a U.S. job before your spouse!  Email me please! Dan@powerties.net.

I hope to post here again soon.  As I mentioned to Shruti, I have a one-year-old and a two-year-old that keep my life ‘full’—to which I’m sure many of you can relate. But until the next post, I’d invite you to take a look at some of the short postings on my blog, or to send me an email directly with any questions.  I respond to all emails—although it sometimes takes a day or two because of the aforementioned job and family!

Dan Beaudry

Dan

Dan Beaudry is the author of the book Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States.

He was most recently the Campus Recruiting Manager for Monster.com where he constructed and managed the company’s first formal university recruiting program, including the growth and management of Monster’s MBA Executive Development and Leadership program. Prior to joining Monster, Dan was the Associate Director of Corporate Recruiting for the Boston University School of Management where he developed the international student employment series.  Dan began his career in management consulting, and also spent time as a headhunter during the dot.com boom and bust. He now works in business development for two international organizations, providing career content and international relations software to the higher education industry.

Dan has been a guest speaker at events for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the MBA Career Services Council, the HR Planning Society, the International Careers Consortium, the National Association of Asian MBA’s and many universities and business schools across the country.  He holds a BA from Vanderbilt University, an MA in International Relations from Boston University, and language certifications from La Sorbonne in Paris.  Dan now lives in Boston with his wife Elena (who is from Spain, and has been given more advice on her US job search than she ever asked for!).

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Mansi Jindal’s story

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 Mansi

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”  – Harvey Fierstein

I truly love interacting with people and always want to be in a social circle. I got married in February 2012 and joined my husband in Germany after two months of our wedding. My family members were worried as I was traveling internationally for the first time and that too alone. I still remember those magical words which my mom said to me when I boarded the flight. Her words were, “Now you are going to build your own nest and you will be writing your own book, just believe in yourself.” Tears rolled off my eyes after hearing those encouraging words.

Before going to Germany, I had thought of few things that I wanted to pursue. But the biggest roadblock in my plans was that I didn’t know German. It is utmost important to know German language to survive in Germany because very few people speak English. Therefore, I enrolled myself at Max Planck Institute, Saarland to learn the basic German. Being part of the institute, I got the opportunity to interact and communicate well with local people  The course kept me occupied for two months. But after the course got over, I didn’t have much to do and I  I was idle for a month and felt like I am getting lost. My husband, who has always supported me in the professional career, helped and motivated me at that time as well. He believes that one should do things that he/she enjoys most. Through him that I got to know about the online courses offered by Coursera.org. I found few courses very interesting and I soon enrolled for two courses and I was happy to be busy once again developing new skills and gaining knowledge.

Instead of attending online courses of coursera from home, I decided to go to Saarland University every day to attend the courses and complete my assignments. I found it beneficial due to two main reasons. Firstly, I got the atmosphere of a university and secondly, I got the chance to socialize and interact with people in the university to further improve my German language. Now I had devised a fixed routine from morning to afternoon. Besides my online classes and assignments, I also joined sports classes to keep myself fit and healthy. As I am a food lover, experiments in kitchen at home kept me occupied in the evening. So, it all went nicely. Then, one day I got to know that we will be moving to US as my husband received an offer from MIT. We were very excited and happy to explore this new venture. So we packed our bags and flew to Boston. It felt like dream come true for my husband.

I knew that I will have to face many uncertainties and deal with many issues upon reaching Boston. One should have correct approach and belief in oneself to excel in a new environment. We found our new house in April 2013 and after the initial phase of unpacking all the stuff and setting up things, I felt lost again. I had no clue where to start and how to start. I started feeling lonely and depressed as my husband was busy with his schedule and I had nothing to do. Now everyday was same for me and I didn’t even realize that my smile was lost. My husband did notice this change and advised me to explore things around and he even introduced me to the MIT Spouses & Partners website which proved to be  a pure blessing for me. The very same day I explored the site and also contacted Ankita and Jennifer through it. To my surprise, I did get positive welcoming response from both of them on the same day.

I make sure not to miss any of its Wednesday meetings as I feel it is the best place to meet people and make friends. In the first meeting itself, Jennifer introduced me to Shruti and from that day itself I felt like I have many options to explore here at MIT. I couldn’t stop smiling after attending its first meeting. 🙂 I truly enjoy all its meeting and consider myself lucky to be the part of this vibrant group.  I find myself quite fortunate to have Ankita and Shruti by my side as they allowed me to hold their hands to climb up the first step of my career. They both helped me in every possible way to explore opportunities.  Now I feel things would have been very difficult if I would not have met them.  As my background is in Human resources, they also introduced me to some volunteer opportunities matching my profile. Now I am happily volunteering at Career Collaborative as a practice interviewer and have also joined one more place to volunteer in my area of interest.  Now, I am also a part of Orientation committee of MIT Spouses & Partners.  As I have J2 visa, I applied for my work permit and now finally I have received my work permit authorization. Now my schedule is busier than my husband.

In sum, I just want to say that nothing is impossible; you can do anything. Nobody can stop you, if you have three things, i.e., belief in yourself, passion and patience.

Follow your dream what you want to be, some or the other day it will come true and you will be thanking God.

Mansi Jindal

Sneha Rajendran’s story

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Sneha

After completing my MBA in India, I started working in the talent management function of one of the consulting firms and I completely enjoyed my work. My fiancé at that point in time was working in the US. Having completed his Masters from one of the top universities in the US, his preference was to continue to work in the US. Thus I was faced with the question of what I was going to do when I join him after marriage. Although it appeared there were several opportunities at the work front within my company, things weren’t that easy to come by.  There were complications with respect to not having the required number of years of experience, visa sponsorship and the like.  As the next step I tried directly applying for openings in other US based companies. Despite having the qualifications required, the major challenge I faced was getting an interview call. I tried several avenues – direct application in a company’s website, employee referral, Linkedin but there was no positive response. This is when I took a step back and tried to ascertain the reason for not getting recognized in the applicant pool. I spoke with several people and a common theme that emerged was – having a US degree facilitates the job search process. As a general rule, companies preferred students graduating from US universities vis-à-vis someone with an equivalent non-US degree.

Subsequently, I looked into programs that matched my background and that were relevant to my career goals. I also geared up for the application process – acing GMAT, getting recommendations and writing a convincing statement of purpose. I reached out to students across different B-schools and got a thorough idea about the expectations of the admissions committee, student life in the US and opportunities that open up at graduate school. This entire information gathering excited me and made me want to pursue an advanced degree. After an exhausting two months of essay writing followed by interviewing, I made into the MS in Management Studies program at MIT Sloan School of Management. The announcement of the admission results coincided closely with my wedding dates and it was the best wedding gift I received!

From my experience, I would say, there is no one simple formula that works for everyone.  There are several opportunities both in industry and academia in the US. It is important that one exercises sufficient due diligence and identifies the path that works best to accomplish his/her goals.

Sneha Rajendran

Daiana Stolf’s story

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Daiana

When I first stepped in Cambridge, in October 2011, I had the best impression I could: it was unusually sunny and warm, everyone was out on the streets wearing skirts and short sleeves and happy that fall had not fully arrived yet. However, my time there was limited – I had only a week , since I was still committed to a PhD in Biotechnology and Bio engineering in Switzerland. Unfortunately, I could not stay to see the changes in weather. Up to that moment, I had thought about quitting my PhD several times. I was not satisfied at all with what I was doing as it was exhausting, disappointing, and recognition failed to cross my way. I was simply drained. However, I did go back and stayed for a few more months, insisting that it was the best thing to do. Except that it was not. In February 2012, I finally had the courage to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life: I quit. After facing what was my 6th move in 6 years, I filled up two suitcases and, with all the hope in the world and my F2 visa in hand, boarded into a plane towards Boston. My “intuition” proved to be right. At that first visit, I had taken the opportunity to visit schools and get information about courses and activities available to partners. And what I found was a myriad of options to engage. I had no doubt about it: my time in Cambridge would be the perfect opportunity to learn something new, improve my skills and prepare myself to the next step of my life: a career change.

By the end of March, I installed my belongings at 24 Peabody Terrace. My partner had been there for 8 months already, as he was pursuing his MBA from Harvard Business School, and I started to meet his friends and colleagues. The beginning was tough, as whomever I met would ask the fatidic question after the first few moments of small talk: “So, what do you do?” It was a moment I wished with all my heart that I could say: “Oh, I will work at XYZ Company”, or “I have been accepted at XYZ Program”. I wish I had a work permit. I wish I had something planned. But I did not. The long explanation about my story would take place, and I usually left with the feeling I had to figure out what to do soon. Not for the sake of telling others, but for my own peace of mind – after all, a career change when you are 30 does not seem common or, even worse, easy. But I trusted that somehow I would find myself.

I started searching for classes at The Cambridge Center for Adult Education and found out several interesting and inexpensive courses of short duration. In three months, I learned how to play the guitar, deepened my knowledge on photography as an art and was led to realize the connection between mindfulness and creativity. The latter course was particularly enjoyable, as I broadened my understanding about meditation and how it could benefit several aspects of my life.

As summer was approaching, and knowing we would spend some time in São Paulo as part of my partner’s internship program, I did some extensive research on the possibilities available at Harvard University Extension School (HES). There, I discovered I could take part in several outstanding programs, taught by Harvard Professors, earn a certificate, meet different people coming from diverse backgrounds, and get out of the “Business School bubble” for a while. Since I was running away from the technical field (as the Dentist and Researcher I have been in the past), I decided to embark into a new challenge, the Certificate in Strategic Management. But wait! I still had to do the required tests. Harvard being Harvard, one of the best universities in the world, you would imagine that a rigorous selection process would take place. Indeed, English proficiency and critical reasoning and writing tests had to be done. With this final OK, there I was: waking up at 6 am when already in São Paulo in order to secure my seat at the desired classes and register for the fall semester.

The experience of studying at Harvard was intense, but at the same time rewarding: exceptional teachers, eye-opening readings, valuable peer-to-peer discussions, extensive and practical group projects, new friends from every corner of the world. It was much more than I had imagined. Besides, it provided me with a novel perspective, abundant knowledge on a new area, and the hope I would be able to combine my past and present experiences in a unique job position in the future. Needless to say, I strongly recommend it to anyone! Not bad at all to have those 7 shiny letters sticking out of your resume, right? 😉

My time in Cambridge was intense, and studying at HES consumed most of it. However, this is a highly intellectually stimulating community, and there are unique opportunities to engage as a partner. You can keep yourself busy by subscribing to several clubs of interest at the Business School, and by participating in lectures, events and gatherings. I had partner friends helping to organize important events such as the annual Marketing Conference, for example. Others took the lead in the organization of social events of the Latin American Club.  Stay tuned and you will be able to watch amazing people speak at Harvard and MIT, such as presidents, celebrities, thinkers, authors.

On the charity side, you can get involved with volunteering programs all around Cambridge and Boston. I did such a thing, although through online tools, for an NGO in Brazil I had discovered during the summer internship. And last but not least, you can start your own blog or, why not, your own online business focusing on a product or service that speaks to your heart? Mine is an admissions consulting firm dedicated to facilitate the life of talented, ambitious, young Brazilians who dream of studying in top schools abroad. And, guess what? It is growing!

See, the sky is the limit, and you should not restrict yourself due to a piece of paper saying you are not eligible to work in the US. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved within the community, and there are several people out there to help you too. The important thing here is: keep your mind open, look out for opportunities and do some networking. In no time you will be engaged and busy with whatever choice you make.

To finish, what better words than those of the late Steve Jobs about connecting dots…

“[…] you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever – because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”

Good Luck!
Daiana Stolf