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International Students - Alumni Success Stories

SooJung R.
SooJung R SooJung R.
Bachelor's, Business Administration, Psychology, May 2013
Current Position: Associate, PwC LLP
Previous Internship(s): Marketing/Operations Intern, LG Sports Inc., Seoul, South Korea; Assurance Intern, PwC LLP, San Jose, CA

Please describe what you do in your current position.

As part of the Assurance (Audit) practice, I work in teams of 4-8 people (depending on the size of the client) to help clients in verifying that they correctly apply accounting principles and ensure compliance with SEC regulations. In simpler words, I test how the client company recorded their financial activities and make sure that they're recording it in a correct and non-misleading way.

What strategies and resources did you use to find your current position?

I attended all info sessions and the Big 4 Forum (a job fair that invites the 4 largest accounting firms to come speak with Cal students) in order to get as much exposure to the company and its employees. I wanted to talk to as many people, not just to get my name out there but also to find out what the company culture is like. Also, I made sure to attend events for each of the "Big 4" accounting firms, so that I could hedge my risk of not getting any offers.

What was your approach in discussing your student visa status with your employer?

Please keep in mind, that I had interned at PwC and received a full time offer after successfully completing the internship. If you intern at one place but end up joining elsewhere for full time, it may take a different approach.

For me, it was largely a two-step process:

  1. Before the *INTERNSHIP* offer: I focused on getting to know more people, and establishing a friendly relationship with the recruiters and employees I met at any event. I didn't really bring up my student visa status, but focused on the fact that I've lived abroad - it's usually a conversation starter. If and when people asked about visas, I replied honestly - but I generally didn't bring it up first: I think it can cloud people's judgments, because not many people are familiar with the process and may automatically think that they "don't want to deal with it". I wanted people to get to know me better before they heard "visa", so that they could make a non-biased judgment of whether I was a great candidate who really qualifies for the job and would be a good fit for the company - with or without a visa situation.
  2. After receiving the *FULL TIME* job offer: At this point, I made sure they understood they would need to petition for a H-1B for me & they would discuss it in the offer letter that I eventually signed. Once I communicated the need to HR, it was a smooth process. My company's external lawyers helped me through the process, let me know what documents I needed to hand in, and followed up with me regarding the status of my work authorization.

What are your top tips for international students looking for a full time job?

  1. Do your research before you go to an info session or job fair - find out through the company website (or some other source) whether they explicitly say they do not hire non-US nationals/residents. Some companies cannot hire international people because they work with the US government on confidential or sensitive projects. Keep that in mind as you look at the list of companies coming to each job fair. By doing your research, you can also target the companies and representatives you want to talk to, saving time & effort for both you and whoever you will be taking to. Plus, that can avoid asking the question that often scares people away: "do you hire internationals who require a visa?".
  2. Carefully craft your "elevator pitch" - make sure you're giving employers interesting and truthful information, but select your words/sentences carefully. But remember, do NOT lie.
  3. Calm yourself before you step into that room full of recruiters and potential managers. I've found that if I was really anxious or eager (especially if it was a position I wanted), I would talk too much or too less and end up having a not-so-great conversation. The best job fair conversation I had was with a manager at my current company, talking about Psychology of Sleep class I had taken - and I wasn't nervous at all because at first I had no idea she was a manager, who actually was the designated interviewer!
  4. Recruiters & professionals are people. Human. Just like you and me. They don't like just talking about work - they also like music, sports, art, etc. just like you and I do. Don't think of them or treat them as just 'some professional you're meeting for networking.' Think of them as new friends you're making, only they have more work experience. (Obviously, this does NOT mean you should start talking asking them about their love life all of a sudden.)
  5. Do not make assumptions. Everyone is different. I had a friend who went up to a manager and started talking about golfing, because he assumed professionals of a certain age like to golf. Unfortunately the manager didn't golf at all, and my friend said he felt embarrassed and he didn't know how to carry on the rest of the conversation.


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