From Vietnam to Amazon

Volare | Blog

Part 1: The Path to success 

The path towards success in America has many forks and diversions. People from all over the world, pour into the Land of the free all looking for their own path. Many of these international students have to cut through the jungles of prejudice, lack of opportunity, and bureaucracy, in order to find happiness and success at the end of their journey.

The good news is, that success in America is possible if one is willing to thoroughly and unceasingly pursue happiness. 

Anh Vu found himself his own little pocket of success. After years of hard work he had gotten a job as the recruiting coordinator at Amazon. His success is not by accident. Anh Vu thoroughly pursued his happiness from the very beginning of his journey. He networked aggressively on LinkedIn, reaching out to complete strangers about employment options, he applied to over 40 jobs online, and while he was suffering through the monogamous grind of filling out job applications, he was also taking career classes at the University of Washington.

As I said before, everyone’s story is different, so there is no way for any other international student to carbon copy, Huy Anh’s path to success, and attempting to do so devalues the humanity of both individuals. Yet, when someone makes it to the top of the mountain, it’s ok to ask them to send you down a rope. 

Part 2: Sending down the Rope

The first piece of advice Anh Vu wants all of his peers to know is that, you have to be honest with employers about your student visa status. The OPT process is difficult and long winded, and you have to be open about that with prospective recruiters. Just because you may not be eligible to work by the hiring date, does not mean you will lose the job opportunity. If you are a good fit, employers will be willing to give you the time and leeway you need in order for them to be able to add you to their team. 

So how do you portray yourself as a good fit? Well you have to rock the interview of course. This is where the work really comes in. You have to prepare for interviews. Be ready with answers to frequently asked questions, be confident, allow yourself the opportunity to improve by interviewing frequently, and taking every opportunity you can to hone your craft. Be clear and honest with your interviewee, and don’t forget it’s ok to think through your answer before blurting it out. Ask the hiring managers smart and intentional questions. Even if you may not be a perfect fit for a job, go to the interview; worst case scenario you get better at being an interviewee, best case scenario you find a job you love. There is no downside. Remember it’s not about finding “the right job” it’s about finding a place where you fit the team culture. 

Part of preparation is having a well written resume. Having a good resume can separate you from other candidates and truly portray your professionalism. Anh Vu also believes that knowing your worth is a big part in getting a good job. One has to be able to go into salary negotiation with bravery and with knowledge of their value. Recruiters want to know this information and not telling them the money or benefits you want isn’t a sign of humility, but rather another hassle for the person hiring you. 

Once you get a job, do not get complacent. Make strong and intentional bonds with your boss, so that you can set and attain goals in order to get promotions, new job offers, and work permits. 

Step 3: Avoiding Pitfalls

Anh Vu also warned against certain pitfalls in the OPT and job search process. The OPT process, just like any bureaucratic operation, has its shortcomings. Anh Vu had 3 job offers on the table, but could not accept any of them because his EAD card arrived later than expected. He missed five months of possible work time. While one cannot control the government process, by being on top of your documents and the OPT process one can guard against any government shortcomings. 

Anh Vu is an incredible example of how far someone can go if they just do their research. Be willing to look up and learn about companies you want to work for. Know which of those companies do hire international students, which of them do not, and which of them cannot

Check to see the companies’ history with H-1B petitions. Most of the time, if a company says they do not hire international students, it means that they have not hired any international students, or they do not normally hire international students, not that they cannot hire international students. If employers say they do not hire international students, you should still apply if that is your dream job. To convince the employers, you must educate them about the process of hiring an F-1 international student. Be honest in your application process about your visa status and avoid saying the word “sponsor.”

Opportunity is out there, for those who are willing to seize it. Anh Vu did, and he had a great job at Amazon. This can be anyone’s reality with the right work ethic, and with the right people around them.

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