Cultural Differences

Feeling excluded

In light of the pandemic, the U.S. job market has been tough to navigate for many. The struggle is real, especially for those who have been furloughed, students who’ve recently graduated, and international students looking for work. But these international students, in particular, are faced with even more challenges (on top of the pandemic) and restrictions to legally work in the U.S., and one of the limited employment options they have is to work on campus. Yet, that option has still been challenging to find for international students like An Vu.

An Vu, a Vietnamese international student who moved to the U.S. during her junior year of high school described the job searching process as very “excluding,” Vu said. 

Vu explained that the search for on-campus jobs is currently her only option to find work, as there are too many restrictions to work an off-campus job as an international student. When clicking on job postings, a common issue these students struggle with is seeing the required permanent U.S. residency card, commonly noted at the bottom. 

“I feel excluded,” Vu said. “These employers and companies should at least include special guidelines or some leeway for international students.

Does your college major really matter when it comes to finding a job?

Many students like Vu who want work experience, may also struggle to find certain jobs that align with their majors or areas of study. Vu said one of the challenges she’s been experiencing besides finding an on-campus job, is not knowing about the different career pathway opportunities she’s able to explore that also feel relevant to her major.

Vu studies business management at California State University, Long Beach, and said she’s a little unsure of what she exactly wants to do with her major. Though, she expressed a lot of interest in getting into the real estate industry after attending Volare’s career counseling session with her career coach. But real estate may be a long-term end goal for Vu, and she’s still unsure of how to look for other related jobs that can help her get there, in case going into real estate right after graduation may not be an option.

According to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, it was reported that only 27 percent of college graduates pursued jobs related to their major. It’s common to hear students switching their major several times during college, and this idea is relatively similar when it comes to graduates and their dispersed outcomes when it comes to job hopping. 

“I’m just looking for jobs to gain experience,” Vu said. “And I’m not sure what kinds of other jobs align with my major. I know there are jobs like supply chain and human resources management, but I don’t have too much knowledge in those areas. I’m open to learning more about those fields, though.”

Vu said she’s thinking about trying to aim for an internship related to her major for next summer. However, she will need to be enrolled in either Optional Practical Training or Curricular Practical Training programs in order to work legally.

Do Americans talk about themselves too much?

As for work authorization challenges and finding jobs related to her major, Vu mentioned how her cultural differences have been getting in the way of her talking to people when it comes to networking, self-advocating, and feeling introverted. 

Nowadays, many networking events rely on conversations that are usually centered around topics about yourself, what you do, and what you like to do. Vu said she feels like she’s been missing out on networking opportunities because she’s not entirely comfortable talking about herself. And when it comes to meeting new people, Vu said her shy personality makes her afraid of negative first impressions. 

“I feel like talking about yourself is not something we do a lot back home,” Vu said. “It’s not really normal or common like it is here.”

Introvert or not, networking can definitely feel uncomfortable for anyone, regardless if they’re extraverted and friendly. Not everyone is great at putting themselves out there, especially with our digital age. Talking online may feel a lot different from interacting face-to-face. But if you struggle to do so – try practicing these networking tips from Christie Mims, and remember that you’re not alone. There’s a high chance another person in the room feels awkward too, so why not break the ice?

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