Forming Valuable Networks

Building a Career: Networking & Forging Valuable Relationships

Networking is an essential skill for all Indians students studying in the US. Networking is about cultivating and maintaining meaningful relationships. It is NOT transactional self-promotion. Get involved with your university and with your community. Join clubs, organisations, and projects you are interested in. Engage substantively with your professors. Get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and make friends who can count on you. Deepen your relationship with your community and personal networks. Build your personality and strengthen your values. It is crucial that you have a well-rounded experience beyond the classroom. Employers want people who add value to their organizations.

Exploring Opportunities

Create your resume – one-page document that describes your educational background, work/volunteer experience (if any) and interests. This will be a key tool in your job search process. Refer to your university’s career counsellor for the most appropriate templates. Monitor your email and the career advising website for virtual events and webinars regarding navigating the US job market and the skills and tools that could help you during the process. Your resume is a great instrument to highlight your technical and hard skills; and to highlight the soft skills that showcase your communication, leadership and teamwork skills to recruiters.

Connecting with Professors

Professors are great resources and establishing relationships with them is important. Attend virtual office hours (or set up individual appointments with them). This helps your professor put a name to a face and building rapport. Remember, questions are encouraged and welcomed. Having a sense of curiosity and being an enthusiastic participant in the classroom is rewarded in the US. And with genuine interest, do extra supervised research or find other ways to go the extra mile. Performing well in the classroom, demonstrating thoughtfulness/commitment, and sharing your career goals with your professors can result in opportunities and more connections in the industry. You can also leverage these relationships for letters of recommendations and referrals in the future.

Friends and Personal Networks

Especially in a tough economy, it is important to build genuine friendships, cultivate personal networks, and demonstrate value addition in small and big ways. People have gotten internships based on heartfelt conversations with someone on a bus, a tip from a local shopkeeper, and through referrals by friends on sports teams. Find a way to apply your skill sets to small businesses in your neighborhood/circles. Sometimes a great opportunity comes from the most ordinary places. Have dialogues, volunteer, and engage positively with the world around you, thereby sowing seeds of kindness.

Work Authorisation

You will need the correct work authorisation and visa status to work in the US. Make sure to stay connected with your university’s International Student Office and continuously monitor the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and your university’s websites for updates on immigration policies. Speak with your Designated School Official (DSO) and career coach regarding the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs for information on eligibility, paperwork and processes.

Do not make any critical decisions based only on suggestions by your friends. Always refer to guidance from your International Student Office before taking any action.