December 4th, 2012 by Marcelo Barros under International Terps. No Comments.
What do you tell your coach at OCS when your scheduled appointment was for 11:00 and you arrive at 11:30? Do you say you’re sorry? Is that enough? Do you say you are really (with an emphasis on the word “really”), and offer an explanation as to why you are late? Do you send an email to your counselor offering a more formal apology and an explanation as to why you are late, or is that too much? What you say (and how you say it) or what you don’t say, matters a GREAT deal. Seems to me our brain and ears are conditioned to expect a certain type of response from people in different situations. If we don’t hear what we think we should hear, we tend to make inferences about people. If you show up for your appointment really late and don’t apologize correctly, people may think you are uninterested, unprofessional, disengaged, or even worse: clueless. In my country, we do apologize when we are late for meetings, but our apologies tend to be very brief compared to US standards in my opinion, and could easily be interpreted as not being genuine in the US. Bottom line: I had to learn how to apologize “US style”. Do you feel comfortable looking at people in the eye when you do that? There’s no other way around it: as international students, in order to do really well in the US, we have to be socially savvy and VERY aware of what people expect from us in terms of responses in various different situations. Nancy Hawkes showed us “how to respond” during her awesome ABC workshop.
Our class. Nancy is the blond lady in the middle of the group. Her workshop was amazing. Just wish I had taken it 19 years ago.
We know a lot about international students. We tend to be smart and hard working. Our GMAT scores are crazy high. We are successful people. Often times we attended top schools in our home countries, but we don’t talk about that. We speak 2 or 3 languages. We come to the US to pursue an education, to challenge ourselves, and to find a job. In many cases what is being taught in classroom is material that is already familiar to many of us. When don’t say much. We tend to listen more. Yes, visa restrictions tend to get in the way of our job search efforts, but but there’s also something else that prevents us from being more successful in the US: and that is the fact that often times we are just not socially savvy.
Being social savvy is key! If you are not, your relationship with your professors, career advisors, friends, etc, may not grow. You will have a tough time adjusting to life in the US, making friends, etc. The good news is this: we learned some amazing techniques through Nancy Hawkes during her ABC workshop that will help us all become more social savvy. I’ll put into practice what I learned and try to have some fun.
When it comes to the business of looking for a job in the US, unfortunately, cultural differences about individualism, self-expression and personal passion often hinder our ability to land jobs or simply create opportunities for ourselves. Who you are – where you come from – if part of your DNA. Be aware of that. Embrace that but be aware of how you normally tend to respond in various different situations.
When I arrived in the US in 1994, people told me that my language skills were pretty good. I had done some traveling prior to coming to the US, so I was OK language wise. However, I quickly learned that my cultural awareness of how to “effectively talk” and interact with Americans was close to “0″. Allow me to illustrate what I’m saying with a sample dialogue between say, myself, and a friend. Pretend the conversation below is taking place in my home country, Brazil.
friend: Hi Marcelo. Are you able to help me move on Saturday?
my answer to my friend in Brazil: No, I’m not able to. I’m busy on Saturday.
Note that I don’t feel you the need to say that I am “sorry” for not being able to help my friend move. I certainly don’t feel I need to apologize. I don’t feel I need to explain to this person why I’m busy. My answer is appropriate and my friend would not think of more or less of myself based on my response. It’s appropriate. How about in the US? How would my response be perceived?
In the US, perhaps, a more appropriate or better answer could be:
“I wish I could, but I’m not able to help this time. Let me know in the future if I can help”. Which response sounds better? I have the feeling that here in the US, the second answer is more appropriate and allows me to build a stronger relationship with my friend, without the risk of hurting his/her feelings. So what did I need to do? I needed to learn how to say “no” in a completely different way in order not be perceived as being rude, uninterested or something like that. This is a big deal. It’s come up for me before during formal performance reviews. I had a manager tell me once: “Sometimes I don’t get you Marcelo”. I knew what he was talking about, and I knew that I needed to be more aware of some key cultural differences when communicating with people.
What a difference the right answer makes. When looking for a job, when networking, when working with your OCS coach or your professors, are you saying the right things, at the right time, the right away? If you are, believe me, you will do very well here. People are rewarded when they’re socially savvy. They’re are liked. They get promoted. People think you are competent. Good things will happen to you. You’ll probably get a job. So do it! Just do it as Nancy taught us. We have to practice though and get comfortable with all this stuff. Some of this stuff feels uncomfortable at times for us all, I know.
You get the picture. What you say, and how you say what you say, has a huge impact in terms of how people perceive you. If you’re a not a fan of small talk, then get comfortable with it, fast. If you don’t know how to say “no” the American way, then learn it. I had to learn how. Learn social savvy and excel in American business and in life in general. Have fun along the way too. You will likely meet many interesting people, network with more ease, and possibly find yourself a job. Overcome cultural barriers. That’s the toughest part for us, I believe. We gotta do it though, in order to achieve our goals. As time goes on and you get better with these techniques, take it to the next level and communicate with authenticity. Then your impact will be even greater, and you will be memorable, as Dr. K. likes to say.
Below is the feedback from students who attended the ABC workshop. (MS students: I enjoyed meeting you all, and had fun during the workshop. Hope to see you around)
Sean: when trying to make friends, given the right context, I encourage you to share with American students some interesting cultural differences between the US and your home country. You’ll find that some people will find that very interesting. Talk about yourself, why you came here, and the challenges you sometimes face as an international student. Ask for help. People want to know who your are, and learn something interesting about you.
POSTED BY SHUO DONG, MS STUDENT
My name is Sean. I am the guy who sat beside you at the ABC workshop on Friday. First of all, I want to thank you and Nancy for what you did to help us get familiar with the American business culture. Both of you gave us so many useful advices and I really benefited a lot from this workshop. I think I will be more confident in the future when talking to strangers from school or work. I hope we could have more opportunities to attend workshops like this in the future.
Also, I have a little question. As an international student, what did you do to get along with native students when you first came here? I know that I probably need to learn something about the history or geography of the U.S., but is there any shortcut to become more immerse in the U.S. culture and make some native friends?
Thanks again and have a nice weekend.
(Sean) Shuo Dong
POSTED BY IVY, MS STUDENT
I am Ivy, the girl with the blue coat in our group photo. I am writing this to give you my thoughts about Nancy’s workshop on Nov.30th.
My feedback is as follows:
This is the most impressive workshop I have ever been to. With the brilliant and clear instruction from Nancy, we have so many chances to participate in all kinds of activities designed in the workshop. We even got our ties, pearls and drinks to mock a cocktail party. It was a brand new experience for many of us. Though the whole workshop lasted 6 hours from 11:am to 5:00 pm, Nancy made the whole day so fulfilling and inspiring. At the end of the day, all the participants end up being good friends. I admire Nancy’s work, and will make great use of her instructions in the rest of my life. Also thanks Marcelo for his help with the workshop. It was very nice to meet him.
About Nancy’s book:
I remember that you said you have some printed version of Nancy’s book. Would you like to give me one of those? I really want to have a printed version to remind me of the great workshop all the time.
POSTED BY YICONG ZHAO, MS STUDENT
Good evening Marcelo,
I think the presentation given by Nancy is fantastic. Since most of us just arrived at the USA, having a course involving US business culture is really helpful.
Personally, I think the small talk technique speech is most informative. In most cases, we are not prepared to speak to a stranger, lack of small talk just makes things worse, for the people you are trying to talk to might think you are rude. I made some natives seem really angry weeks ago probably because I didn’t pay attention to their small talk and go straight to the topic. Small talk can calm us down as well, so I will definitely try small talk next time I go to professor’s office!
The speeches on accomplishment, apology, gratefulness may not be so fresh to us but still make some great points and are practical as well. Besides, the mock interview is really rewarding, I gradually know what interview is really about.
And thank you for your quick questions and little tips, I think next time I will try not to be so “stiff”.
Thank you and Nancy for giving us such great presentation, and it definitely make us feel easier to blend in with the US business culture.
POSTED BY WANGSHU WU, MS STUDENT
I’m writing to give the feedback on the ABC workshop today. I want to thank you for designing such an exciting workshop, and I really appreciate your hard-work. Also, I want to thank Nancy for her fabulous and interesting lecture.
The training Nancy gave us today involves so many useful information that it benefits me a lot. My favorite part of the workshop today is the activities in which we were asked to apply what we’ve learnt from the lecture and videos under different scenarios. Through these activities, I become more confident and gain several communication skills useful in the business world. What’s more, I become aware of some differences between American culture and Chinese culture which I used to ignore. Specifically, I always want to be friendly to others. However, to native Americans, I always seem conservative and not so friendly. This problem confused me a lot and I didn’t know how to solve it. Thanks to today’s training, I learned how to be friendly in the American way and how to make myself understandable.
So, I really gain a lot from today’s workshop and again I want to thank you and Nancy for your help.
Hope to take part in other activities you hold!
POSTED BY JING LIU, MS STUDENT
Dear Marcelo Barros,
Today’s ABC workshop is great and I really enjoy it. Thank you and Nancy!
I have been in U.S for almost 3 months. At the very beginning, it was quite hard for me to immerse into the life here. I didn’t know what’s the proper way to behavior and always felt awkward. Actually, I felt like I have experienced all the possible embarrassing moments in life and school. And gradually I felt like getting used to some daily life scenarios, such as buying coffee at Rudy’s, or asking for help in the library. However, how to behave professionally in business society is still a puzzle to me. I really appreciate Nancy’s presentation today. She gave us a thorough idea and knowledge of professional behavior from a very high cultural, language and value perspective. Now I do not only know what kind of behavior and manner is appropriate and expected by my coworkers, but also learn the reasons and core values behind it. This would be really helpful because every time I face some situation, I can judge it by myself now what is the proper thing in this culture instead of simply following someone’s behavior which might not be totally right or getting confused by different real-life examples. Also, I like the Activity Part. It got all of us involved and I met quite a lot of nice guys, getting to know them. And the videos were amazing too. And thank you so much for the mock interview. Even though I haven’t got a chance to be interviewed this time, I got a better understanding of what kind of quality we are expected to have for an interview.
You and Nancy are so nice. The workshop helps me to feel more confident and prepared if I encounter problems and new situations in professional or daily life here. I really enjoy it. Thank you!
November 2nd, 2012 by Marcelo Barros under International Terps. No Comments.
The write-up below was kindly prepared by our very own Jason Guo, first year MBA. Jason shares with us his impressions about going to NSHMBA.
Jason: Myself, Tuker and Jeff enjoyed your company and enthusiasm in Orlando. Thank you for maximizing your time during NHSMBA by connecting with several employers. A high level of activity tends to lead to success. And thank you for the kind words about our team. When we see committed and motivated students like you we can’t help but try to do everything we can to help you.
Jason’s NSHMBA conference experience
Why should I attend the NSHMBA conference?
When my career coach, Julie, told me the most important thing I should do for finding a job in asset management companies, I know that networking is a must to anyone who wants to start his career path in financial industry. It is a tough job, but Julie’s suggestion is the main strategy for my career hunting. And this strategy is the most effective strategy.
How to network with financial industry for an international student?
Career conference is a perfect way. Black MBA conference is the career affair I missed up, I could not risk my career development to miss NSHMBA conference for my first year in Smith. So, NSHMBA, I’m coming!
How was the NSHMBA?
I suggest every MBA student should go. Why? Is NSHMBA met my expectation? Honestly, it far beyond my expectation. Networked? Yes. Any interview? Not yet, but it will come in future. Internship? Please refer to our 1st year star, Ngozi.
What did I learn from the NSHMBA? So many, my friends, so many!
Please add your strength on your resume and move your education below your professional experience. Your school resume template is perfect, but on conference, your resume needs another template to differentiate you out of your peers. Your strengths are what the recruiters looking for on you; please highlight them for your own good.
Facebook is for friends? Yes, it is, but it doesn’t mean all companies will skip your Facebook account. To ‘like’ some specific companies are necessary for job applications. So, please keep your Facebook account ‘clean and neat’. LinkedIn is for professional? Yes, it is, but have you updated your LinkedIn profile yet? Please do that. How to find a job through a 2nd or a 3rd connection at LinkedIn? Please think about it. This kind of connections is very helpful. That’s what I learn from the professional development session: Branding ‘You’ career development workshop: Personal branding: Beyond the basics. The content sounds familiar? That’s right; Smith MBA all learned it during our orientation hold by OCS. Oh, BTW, that workshop in NSHMBA is presented by Vanguard. Yes, you are correct again, the large fund management company.
Smith OCS has done amazing job, guys, believe me. Once you seen how Tucker, Marcelo, and Jeff worked so hard to help you reach out potential recruiters and alumni during the conference, you should be proud of our so fantastic OCS team. They are all amazing guys! Smith is a strong community; please use it wisely and correctly. Don’t waste your precious resource.
I should also be grateful to our fantastic alumni, Rafael from Laureate Education, Jorge from Cigna, Glenda from Fed, and many other alumni I even could not remember their names. They are all willing to help you to find a job you want. ‘Terps help Terps ’, that is not a slogan, that what happened just around you and me.
Special tips for international students?
These tips are not actually from me, they are from a friend I met at the FEB booth. Izabela Holmes. For international students, oral presentation is always a difficult to us. How to solve this problem? Especially during the interview, some students might even facing case interview which needs professional presentation. Please follow up http://www.ted.com/. Please learn how to present in an efficient and proper way through these splendid presentation videos. I’m definitely sure you will learn something, especially for students focus on ‘consulting’. In addition, don’t be too judgmental, you come to the US, you got to embrace the US couture. Please remember, that’s your decision to come to here. Please speak English all the time, even with your nations, that’s how will you be engaged with the US society efficiently and effectively.
P.S. Jason got some good job searching tips from Izabela Holmes, recruiter for the Department of Treasure. I decided to go ahead and add this picture to Jason’s write-up…:)
Things need to do next?
- Resume revising
- English practicing
- Thank you Email
- Recruiters follow up
- Online application
- OCS workshop
In the end, I would like to claim a motto from Wells Fargo to echo ‘Terps help Terps’, ‘Together we’ll go far’. Terps, let’s go far.
October 31st, 2012 by Marcelo Barros under International Terps. No Comments.
My strategy at NSHMBA was two fold: to support the students who attended the conference, and to network with as many companies as possible to understand their hiring policies for foreign nationals (int students), and hopefully uncover some opportunities that our int students could take advantage of.
Let me comment a bit on the students who attended the conference. In a nutshell, I could not be more proud of the students who made the investment to attend NHSMBA. Our school was certainly well represented in Orlando. Jeff, myself and Tucker commented on how “ready to go” our students were. This was really apparent on day-2 of the event, when the level of energy dropped significantly and the “show floor” looked pretty empty in general. Our Terps, however, were as engaged on day-2 as they were on day-1. Awesome job, really. People pick up on this kind of stuff.
About 15 international students attended the event. A few US students were also there. A lot of students ask me: are job/career fairs such as NHSMBA worth it for int students? My answer to this question is: “it depends”. It depends on your mindset and what you have as goals for the conference. If you want to network, get yourself out of your comfort zone, practice your elevator pitch, and who knows, find an internship or a job, then certainly, do sign up for these career fairs. If you are going to get discouraged by the famous line from recruiters “sorry, we don’t sponsor” then maybe career fairs are not worth your time cause a lot of the companies that attend do not sponsor. I’d say only about 10 to 15% of the organizations at NSHMBA sponsored. By the way, during the last day of the show, I had a chance to personally ask the president of NSHMBA to try to increase the number of companies that sponsor so next year’s conference can be more valuable for int students. We’ll see.
So, as an int student, what should your strategy be? Well, one thing for sure: we need to try to forget about sponsorship for a second. Yes, let’s get it out of our minds when attending events such as NHSMBA. You really need to focus on yourself, the value you bring to the company you are talking to, and connecting strongly with whoever you are talking to. Listen to the tip Tucker Ophot from OCS shared with our int students. Tucker got this tip from an int Terp alumni who got sponsored and now has a job in finance. We connected with this individual in Orlando, and now he helps recruit for his company. We just never know..it is so true. Watch the short video below:
Tucker at NSHMBA
I know it’s easy for us to say – believe me, I was a victim of this type of mindset myself - but it is true: if we as international students allow ourselves to get too emotionally involved with sponsorship challenges, then our chances of making a memorable impression to a recruiter or a hiring manager at events such as NSHMBA will be slim. First things first: focus on making a powerful connection with whoever you are talking to. You will not be able to do that though if you are thinking about sponsorship.
Regarding the companies I talked to, I must say that I was disappointed that a few of them, while global in nature, did not have established int MBA rotational program. For instance, Nissan and Ford were eager to find qualified candidates to fill critical roles in Mexico and Brazil but did not have any program in place that promoted the development of int managers of at least allowed foreign nationals to use their OPT time at HQers, let’s say, before they move to the “region” for their assignments. I think some companies are leaving money on the table for not having something established along the lines of a formal int leadership MBA program. So what are we doing as a school? We are trying to work directly with global companies who want to hear what we have to say around this exact topic. I exchanged ideas with a couple of recruiters and we have kept in touch. We hope that by remaining in touch there will be opportunities that our int Terps may be able to take advantage of in the future. From my perspective, it is important we get engaged and drive this dialogue with companies that could hire you, our int students. We’ve started to do that. Others from OCS are also assisting. Believe, this is a team effort. Something else that is worth sharing: sometimes company’s representatives, whether they are from HR or “the business”, did not know how to answer the question: do you sponsor? For instance, I went to Intel and this lady told me they do not sponsor, and I know that Intel has filed dozens of H1-B visas. Granted, they don’t seem to sponsor non-technical roles, but still, they do sponsor. Bottom line: companies sometimes are not clear if they sponsor or not. Depending on who you talk to, you may get a different answer. Happened to me at NSHMBA 2 or 3 times. So what do you do as an int student? Again, same advice as before: you forget about sponsorship until the topic gets brought up by whoever you are talking to. But by the time the sponsorship question comes up you have made such a hugely positive impression on whoever you are talking that this individual cannot help but think: “This person is perfect for us. We don’t sponsor, but we need to find a way to do so for this individual.” There are exceptions to every rule. The case-by case response that most companies gave me at NSHMBA makes sense. We have that to work with! I believe most companies will do what makes sense.
I did run into maybe 6 or 7 firms that told me” we do sponsor” and they all had quality opportunities for int students to take advantage of. I have already shared these names with you via email, but here they go again.
EMC (a very interesting option in my opinion for those who like “technology consulting”)
American Airlines (they have hired from Smith before)
Cigma (we have an international Terp (class of 2009) working at Cigma at the moment as part of their Financial Development Program))
And last but not least, if you are an int student who went to the conference, let us know what you learned, and your thoughts in general. If you are an int student who went to Black MBA, we would love to hear from you as well. Also, did I say that Ngozi , first year MBA, secured an internship at NSHMBA? We should ask her how she did it.
October 31st, 2012 by Marcelo Barros under International Terps. No Comments.
We had a lot fun chatting with successful int Terps who got jobs in the US. The atmosphere at this event was so cool. Having it take place in DC gave the event a real nice international feel.
Going forward, our goal is for the International Alumni Dinner usually organized by the IMBAA to become a signature event for our school. Something we will all look forward to attending. Thank you IMBAA for putting this great event together. It’s a ton of work to organize events such as this one. You did it, elegantly, and we thank you.
International students: listen to the great tips shared by our int alumni. Let’s talk about what they are saying, and make sure we understand, truly, what is being said. I really liked some of the tips shared by our alumni. I must say I loved what Alex from the World Bank said regarding the skills we bring into an MBA program. This is so true for international students, but yet I feel that sometimes we do not properly describe and articulate the value of our pre-MBA experiences. I know we are working as a team to get better.
Our international Terp alumni talked about how to get a job in marketing, for instance, amongst several other things. Our alumni also reminded us to take time to think about our dreams, goals, and priorities. This is so true for the international students. Why did we come to the US in the first place?
The video is a little long (about 9 min) but worth watching…
Success Stories From Int Terps
The write-up below comes from Yan Liu, first year MBA. Looks like Yan had fun at the event.
Mattie and everybody else: thank you for helping us all as well. It’s really great when we have U.S students attend our international events.
On October 18th 2012, the Smith International MBA Association (IMBAA) hosted an Alumni Dinner at the Beacon Hotel in Washington, DC. It was a great opportunity for current MBA students to meet Smith alumni, some of whom were even recent members of the IMBAA. Students chatted about everything from favorite classes to international travel experiences with alumni working in fields as diverse as banking, international development, marketing, and digital strategy.
We enjoyed great food in warm and sweet ambiance as our conversation progressed over dinner. Later in the evening, each Smith alum offered a piece of advice to the group at large, and we heard wonderful tips about the Smith experience, the job and internship search, and the current job market. Some current MBA students were very happy to find alumni from the same home country, industry or job function. We were all able to share common points from different perspectives, and to begin getting to know how warm and engaging the wider Smith community can be. We hope that this sharing of “Smith Stories” was as valuable for all students and alumni as it was for us!
Our Smith alumni in attendance were: Santosh Yadav, Project Manager at Channel Optimization, Vladimir Inozemsev, Resource Management Analyst at The World Bank, Shashank Saini, Principal Operations Analyst at Capital One, Alexander Basilia, Pension Administrative Officer at The World Bank, Lacey Nguyen, Marketing Intelligence Senior Analyst at RTC, and Dawn Perlas, Director of Digital Strategy and Operations at CEB. Thanks again to all for attending and making this a very special night. We hope that we will see you soon.