Joseph Lim | A Student Journalist & Aspiring Diplomat’s Transition from the Military to Tufts

 

Joseph Lim Third-year student at Tufts

Joseph Lim is a third-year student at Tufts University majoring in International Relations and Film and Media. An international student from South Korea, he attended Tufts for two years (2017-2019) before returning home to complete his mandatory two-year military service (2019-2021). Now back on campus, he reflects on the transition from military life to school life and how he’s preparing for a career in NGOs in the U.S. or South Korea.

Tell me about your time in and transitioning out from military conscription

In the military, I had a good career. I was a popular military barber and I got second place at a national military speech contest. I felt fulfilled reading Japanese novels, Chinese history books, or biographies of famous people in my free time.
But when I got out in April, I actually didn’t know what to do. My life was so regimented in the military. With all this freedom, I felt very uncomfortable. Moreover, I got onto social media, and saw my peers out and about, traveling, eating and living knee-deep in their professional careers.
My female friends had finished two years of college, some getting their first jobs by the time of my discharge. My peers seemed to live a more accomplished life. As for me, I was now unemployed.

What helped you move on from that period?

At dinner one night, I broke down in front of my parents. My parents consoled me, prodding me to rest, read and reflect before the school semester began. While at home, I came across books about North Korean defectors and found myself getting deeper and deeper into my studies of North Korea. There were days where I’d compile databases of North Korean missile tests or the history of North Korea negotiations. I later sent an email to an expert on North Korean studies at the Fletcher School, named Professor Lee Sung Yoon, asking if I could take his course. I’m now taking a second course with him and am a member of a North Korea working group club.

How was going back to campus?

Before going to campus, I felt like nobody would’ve remembered me. I felt like everybody else that I knew had moved on, already graduated, or in their senior years – that I’d be starting all over again.
That turned out not to be true. The people I met at Tufts, even underclassmen who I had interacted with just a few times, welcomed me back on campus, saying, “Hey, we should catch up.” My professors are the kindest people. Experiencing the COVID times firsthand, they had a general sympathy for students. That sympathy and understanding really helped me as well.

What were some of the challenges transitioning back to school?

One difficulty was, although I had a general purpose in helping North Koreans, I didn’t know how to translate that academically, or how to make a career roadmap for the next two years.
When it came to career advice, I realized that I have to ask mentors. At first, I was very reluctant. I was uneasy about this because I felt like approaching a person for networking was ingenuine. I was worried I would give the person the impression that I was using them for my own personal reasons, rather than just getting to know that person for who they are.
I was surprised to learn that it was normal for career professionals to have students come up and ask about their careers. I’ve learned to accept that networking is a legitimate type of relationship.

How has your university been helpful in your transition?

The most helpful place was the career center. My Tufts career advisor introduced me to a networking platform called The Herd. I was looking for people working at news organizations and found many Tufts alumni who did. I recently talked to a journalist at Business Insider through The Herd, and got good tips on marketable skill sets and valuable industry experience stories
. Besides that, the career center provided good career advice, resume feedback, and introduced me to great scholarship opportunities.
So much of the career advice I got came from my informal networks, like my North Korean student working group. Many students there worked specifically for NGOs and think tanks, working directly or indirectly on North Korea issues. I would ask them about job prospects and relevant skills.

How are you thinking about the rest of your Tufts and post-Tufts career?

My goal is to go to CSIS – it’s one of the biggest think tanks in the field of East Asian conflict resolution or conflict analysis. It’s an organizational structure that can support having interns, and can potentially support their visa status like H1B1.
I don’t know if I’ll go international, but I’d love to. There are opportunities in South Korea as well that are perfectly legitimate, maybe that will even lead me back to the U.S.

Any parting words of advice?

If I could tell something to pre-transition Joseph, or for people who’ve just got out of the military, I would say, “don’t worry.” There are resources available and there is a community waiting for them to reach out to. It’ll be okay.

Jennifer Wang | From Taiwan to Tufts to Dassault Systèmes

Jennifer Wang Business Planning Specialist at Dassault Systèmes

Jennifer is originally from Taichung, Taiwan and graduated from Tufts University in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Economics. The latter major was an intentional choice that afforded her the STEM OPT extension.

Tell us about your career path

Once I was accepted to college, I knew I wanted to start my career in the US, to at least take advantage of the 3 years of OPT, but I wasn’t completely set on staying in the country beyond that. I knew I wanted my career to be a global one, so I didn’t mind trying out another region if the opportunity rose.

Growing up, my career interest was always in International Relations; my dream job was in the UN or the WTO, but once I got to the US, I quickly realized that it was not the most viable path for my situation for a variety of reasons out of my control, so I had to pivot. I explored career paths from International Relations research at think tanks, investment banking, to consulting. I knew vaguely that I wanted roles that were relationship-oriented. Ultimately I ended up targeting business roles at technology companies with an international footprint.

After my junior year of college, I started interning for my current company – Dassault Systèmes, all the way to graduation–first in corporate social responsibility, then in business development (sales). I put an emphasis on networking internally – I made an effort to introduce myself to everyone I met at the office, leveraged my alumni network within the company, involved myself in projects promoting the internship program, and made sure to build a relationship with the University Recruiting team in HR. I also had amazing managers who proactively connected me with different people in the company based on my interests. My goal was to really be top of mind for any role I was targeting once the company started hiring, and it worked. When I graduated, I worked elsewhere for six months, but I made sure to keep my connections updated on my progress. When a role reopened, I was immediately contacted about it, invited to interview, and ultimately accepted the offer.

How was Canada part of the strategy?

Canada was never part of the strategy, but I rolled with it as the opportunity arose. When I found myself graduating into the height of covid, May 2020, without a full-time offer in hand, my internship team connected me with one of Dassault Systèmes’ reseller partners in Canada. Despite the pandemic, they were expanding into a new sales territory, and I accepted the offer – the only one I had. My top priority then was to use up the least amount of unemployment days allowed on OPT and maintain work authorization while I continued looking for US-based opportunities, so I stayed in the US while working remotely for a Canadian company. A US-based job was still my goal, but Canada was an acceptable backup plan, especially since I completed part of my education in French, which offers certain advantages in Canada. As a general note, Canada has less stringent immigration requirements for skilled workers, and it could be a nice alternative if the H-1B doesn’t work out.-

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Although there were practical challenges during the job search, such as getting to the final stages of an interview then realizing visa sponsorship was an issue, the biggest challenge overall was staying mentally confident and positive when it seemed like I was “failing” at what I came to the US to do (get a job in the US). Staying positive was important because that confident (or lack of) attitude spills over in interviews, if I couldn’t convince myself that I was qualified enough, how could I convince an interviewer with minimal knowledge about me that I was the best candidate?

How did you overcome that challenge? What were the most helpful resources during this time?

It required a mindset change where I wasn’t measuring myself based on the outcome (i.e.: I still did not get an offer) but based on the progress (i.e.: I landed X interviews this week or I made Y networking calls this week). To measure progress, I treated the job search like a sales job – I set KPIs on how many outreaches (LinkedIn messages, emails) a day I made to get informational interviews, how many informational interviews I converted from those outreaches a week, and how many job opportunities I uncovered from informational interviews. I tracked everything in a spreadsheet, CRM-style. That gave me mental reassurance and concrete evidence that I was progressing, and even if I didn’t have an offer in hand yet, I could see I was going in the right direction. The most helpful resource I found was my university alumni network — I had the most success getting informational interviews from alumni and learning about opportunities or getting referred to more people in their network to speak to.

What’s next for you?

I’m happy to say that I think I’ve found my career footing in sales strategy, I really enjoy what I do, and I’d like to continue this path for a while. I started on an H1B last year (2021), so I’m planning to stay in the US for the next five years or so, but then I think it’s time to find my way back to Europe, either in France or the UK. I used to be adamant about starting an MBA in the next few years, but now I’m more flexible about that idea. If there’s one thing I learnt, it’s being open to any possibility and rolling with it!

What’s your advice for international students?

I always think back to this analogy my parents said to me during the job search — imagine you’re a well-oiled race car, you may be fast, but if you choose to race on pothole-filled dirt roads, you may not go as fast as racing on a smooth paved track.” Admittedly there’s another argument that “diamonds are created under pressure,” where adversity creates resilience, but my takeaway from the analogy is not to avoid challenges and take the easy road, but to be open-minded, flexible, and strategic about what opportunities you search for and how you leverage opportunities to get to your goals.

4 Backup Options You Should Know if Your H-1B Is Denied

The majority of international students want to pursue a career in the U.S. However, there is no guarantee that international students will be able to stay in the U.S. for work. Obtaining an H-1B visa is not a straightforward process. Several factors are out of an applicant’s control including:

  • A highly competitive H-1B Visa lottery

    In March 2022, USCIS received 483,927 registrations for 85,000 H-1B visas for 2023 fiscal year

  • H-1B visa application rejections
  • Changes to immigration policy 

Therefore, international students must have a back-up plan in case their H-1B visa is denied. Preparing H-1B back-up options can help uncover opportunities to stay in the U.S. that may otherwise remain hidden. Here are 4 options international students should consider for their H-1B backup plan.

 

1) Consider Alternative U.S. Immigration Options

While the most common work visa in the U.S. is the H-1B, there are many other visa types offered by the USCIS. Depending on your situation, education level, work experience, and goals for working in the US, there may be one or more options suited for you. Here are some of the H-1B alternatives that international students should consider. 

  •  H-1B Cap-Exempt Jobs – International students can apply for positions at higher-ed institutions and non-profit or government research organizations. These cap-exempt organizations do not need to go through the H-1B lottery process when hiring international students. 
  • Employment-Based (EB) Visa – There are many EB visas to choose from and the requirements range in complexity. In general, EB visas are designed for skilled workers who hold an advanced degree (Master’s or PhD), have experience in their field, and can provide value to the U.S.
  • Intracompany Transferees Visa (L-1A/1B) – The L visas allow employees of international companies to transfer to the U.S. You must work for at least a year in a foreign branch of a company to apply for an L visa. This is an excellent option for anyone looking at international companies as part of their backup strategy. If your H-1B is rejected, you can work for the company in another country for a year, before circling back with the L visa.
  • Extraordinary Ability or Achievement Visa (O-1 Visa) –  The O visa is designed to give applicants who have demonstrated extraordinary success in their field the chance to work in the U.S. for up to three years. Extraordinary ability and achievement must be quantified, and the visa is only valid for work in the same field.
  • Cultural Exchange Visa (Q-1 Visa) – The Q visa provides short-term (15 months) cultural exchange-based employment permissions. Employment must be a part of a cultural exchange program organized by the employer.

 

2) Apply to International Companies

International students should apply to companies that operate globally. If the H-1B is denied, international companies can put in a request for a position in another country. This option is especially useful for an applicant who has already gone through the vetting process at the target company.  Transfers, references, and recommendations in this case are easier to come by.

International students may also consider countries other than the U.S. Countries like Canada provide similar and easier pathways to obtaining permanent and long-term working visas than compared to the U.S. Additionally, many of the same large companies in the U.S. also operate in Canada. 

Applicants with advanced degrees from the U.S. and other countries globally have the potential to apply (and get accepted) for a permanent residency in Canada through the Express Entry Program.

 

3) Continue Exploring Opportunities Back Home

Since there are no guarantees in the immigration visa and employment process, it is important for international students to explore opportunities back at home.

Create a list of potential opportunities in your home country that you can fall back on. Factors that you may want to consider while putting your list together may include details like: 

  • the global reach and recognition of the company, 
  • the possibility of developing a marketable skill set, 
  • the potential for growth and advancement within the company, 
  • and how the company may help your case in the future should you wish to apply for a visa again. 

International students can find positions at large, multinational companies in their own countries that can give them the competitive edge they need to land a job in another country like the U.S.

 

4) Pursue higher education

Lastly, international students can pursue higher education to stay in the U.S. This can add time to an international student’s allowable time in the U.S., and also create work opportunities in the future. Currently, there are 20K H-1B visas reserved for international students with advanced degrees. Recipients of advanced degrees also have the chance to extend their OPT program by one year.  

7 Mistakes to Avoid as a New International Student in the U.S.

Going to the U.S. for school is an exciting experience, yet studying in a different nation in new surroundings can lead some international students to make mistakes that they may not be aware of. From academic and professional errors to social life blunders, here are seven mistakes to avoid as an international student in the U.S.

First mistake: missing course registration

Course registration is particularly important, as it largely determines what classes each student will take for the semester. Since many classes have only limited slots, missing course registration can cause students to not be able to take the classes they need, which can affect their schedule in future semesters and may even limit a student’s ability to graduate on time. 

The add/drop period, a time where students can add new classes, drop existing classes, or switch class sections, usually lasts for one to three weeks and typically occurs at the beginning of each semester. Students can connect with their career center for help as they explore their academic and career options, along with their school’s specific dates for course registration and the add/drop period. 

Second mistake: making friends with only students from one’s own country

One of the most common mistakes an international student can make is only socializing with students from their native country. Although this may be the most comfortable social move, and it is definitely alright to have some of those friends, it prevents international students from learning more about America’s culture and removes the cultural immersion aspect from the study abroad experience.

Third mistake: taking advice from other students 

Other students can be extremely helpful when learning about a university, its requirements, and the recommended classes and activities one should take for their degree program. However, it is also important to consult academic advisors, professors, and other non-students. They almost always have information and resources that other students do not know about, and can be great sources of advice. Furthermore, international students should not rely on friends for immigration advice, but instead consult their international student office or an immigration attorney.

Fourth mistake: Being under- or over-involved

Being involved is important, yet international students can often do too much or too little. Participating in too many activities and clubs outside of class can leave one without enough time to sleep, relax, or have an active social life. On the other hand, being under-involved can leave a student missing out on important activities outside of class that can have an impact on their job prospects and social life. It is important to be balanced, as being involved can help build one’s resume, skills, and experiences for future job searches.

Fifth mistake: Not completing any projects or paid/unpaid internships

Projects and internships are essential for obtaining future employment or research opportunities in the U.S., as international students have limited options. In addition to succeeding academically, international students should strive to participate in unpaid or paid projects or internships, as lacking those experiences can severely hurt one’s ability to obtain a competitive job after school. 

Sixth mistake: Not having a clear understanding of the U.S. work authorization

When one is applying to jobs and internships alongside their American peers, it can be easy to forget about the different work and internship regulations and deadlines that apply to international students in the U.S. International students should carefully explore the different options to legally work within the U.S.

Seventh mistake: Not using the career center and campus resources effectively

Many students, both international and domestic, often overlook their university’s career center. The career center can provide great advice on preparing a resume, practicing interviews, finding companies that recruit on-campus, employer connections, and more. Utilizing it effectively can lead to greater success in finding an internship or job.

Final Thoughts

By avoiding these mistakes, international students can help position themselves for an amazing and productive experience in the U.S. For more tips, read other useful articles on Interstride’s blog.

How to Find Scholarships & Financial Aid as an International Graduate Student

Studying in the U.S. as an international student is an amazing experience and can lead to great opportunities, but often comes at a steep cost. International students studying at a public school usually pay between $20,000-35,000 in tuition fees on average, while those studying at a private institution typically pay between $35,000-50,000. There are also accommodations to consider; campus dorms can be between $5,000-8,000 per year, while a single bedroom apartment may range from $7,000-15,000. On top of that, living expenses like groceries, clothes, shopping, travel costs are required as well. All in all, international students studying at a graduate program in the U.S. can pay an overall cost of $35,000-75,000 per year depending on the institution and location.

Some institutions provide financial aid to their students to help cover tuition or room and board costs. Unfortunately, most schools only allocate a minor amount of financial aid to international students. Therefore, it is worthwhile to consider other sources to help cover the costs of studying in the U.S.

Funding Options

International graduate students have three main sources of funding to consider when looking to study in the U.S.

  • Institutional aid: Financial aid is usually given in small amounts to international students, but it is still worthwhile to see what your school may be able to cover. While it is likely too late for students to obtain aid for this school year, students should still check with their institution for details, eligibility requirements, and deadlines.
  • Grants and scholarships: Scholarships can be a great and free way to pay for school. There are hundreds of scholarships for international students, and each one is usually focused on a specific area of study, hobby, cultural background, or other factor. To successfully get a scholarship, you must go through an application process with the organization or institution that offers it. Besides scholarships, grants are another great way to pay for school. While many of them are very competitive to obtain, such as the Fulbright scholarship, they can sometimes cover nearly all expenses of studying in the U.S. 
  • Loans: Private international student loans are usually available; however, international students typically need a U.S. citizen to serve as a cosigner on the loan. A cosigner could be a relative, friend, or spouse, and they take on financial responsibility to pay back the loan should the student fail to do so. Most people seek to cover their school costs through institutional aid, scholarships, and personal savings, but private loans can help cover the remaining costs in the event that other sources are not enough.

Scholarship Search Tips

When looking for scholarships, there are several things students can do to help their search.

  • Read the fine print: International students should make sure to carefully read scholarship requirements before applying, to ensure they meet eligibility requirements and that the scholarship is genuine. Additionally, students should stay on top of scholarship deadlines to make sure they apply in time.
  • Stay organized with a scholarship spreadsheet: When applying to many scholarships, it can be easy to mix up their deadlines and application requirements. By using a spreadsheet, students can organize the scholarships and keep track of which ones they have applied to.

Major Scholarships You Can Apply for Right Now

There are several prominent scholarships that international graduate students can still apply for right now:

Besides these featured scholarships and grants, there are many others listed on the Interstride web application, under student services. Login to Interstride to access the complete list of scholarships.

Final Thoughts

Despite the cost of studying in the U.S., international graduate students may be able to mitigate some of the costs through aid, scholarships, grants, and loans. Students can also leverage their on-campus work, Curricular Practical Training, and internships to help save money for school. While it can be costly to be an international student, there are some effective ways to help reduce the costs of studying in the U.S.

Top 10 Companies Hiring International Talent as Business Analysts

Top 10 Companies Hiring International Talent as Business Analysts

Are you looking for a Business Analyst job that offers visa sponsorship? Are you wondering which companies are hiring? We have your back. Interstride is the #1 place where international students find career opportunities in the U.S. and globally. To help you out in your search, we found the top 10 companies looking to hire and sponsor international talent to be Business Intelligence (BI) Analysts.

What is a Business Analyst?

A business analyst uses and interprets data and other information to help organizations make reliable business decisions. Typical responsibilities can include analyzing large data sets, creating financial models, supporting the company’s business strategies, and more. They often have educational backgrounds in business administration, information technology, finance, and management, but can come from other degree programs. According to Glassdoor, Business Analysts in the U.S. made an average salary of $84,635 in 2021.

Top 10 Companies Hiring Now

1) Amazon – Amazon is a multinational technology company headquartered in Seattle, Washington with offices in many other U.S. states. The company primarily focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and digital streaming, and is one of the world’s most valuable companies.

2) Kforce – Kforce is a staffing firm that focuses on helping companies create high-performing teams within their technology, finance and accounting divisions. It employees over 30,000 skilled professionals, works with a majority of the Fortune 500, and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida.

3) ConsultADD – ConsultADD provides information technology consulting and business practice services. It specializes in banking, insurance, finance, enterprise web development, business intelligence and more. ConsultADD is headquartered in Irving, Texas, and also has offices in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

4) McKinsey & Company – McKinsey & Company is one of the most prominent management consulting firms, and offers professional services to companies, governments, and other organizations around the world. McKinsey has over 38,000 employees, offices across the U.S., and an extremely competitive hiring process.

5) Virtusa Corporation – Virtusa is an information technology firm founded in Sri Lanka and headquartered in Southborough, Massachusetts. The company provides business consulting, IT consulting, and other services to enterprise clients and software vendors.

6) TCS – Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is a multinational IT services and consulting company that operates in over 45 countries. Its headquarters are in Mumbai, India, but it has over eight offices in the United States.

7) System Soft Technologies – System Soft is an IT management company that focuses on building long-term partnerships with its clients. The firm employees about 1,000 associates, is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, and has other U.S. offices in Texas, California, Virginia, and Georgia.

8) Capgemini – Capgemini is a French IT services and consulting company with over 300,000 employees in nearly 50 countries. It is headquartered in Paris, France, but has over 47 U.S. offices in states across the country.

9) Tech Mahindra – Tech Mahindra primarily focuses on offering consulting and IT services, and is headquartered in Pune, India. Tech Mahindra works in over 90 countries and has over 23 U.S. offices in cities like New York, San Jose, Seattle, and Miami.

10) Google – Google is a multinational technology company that focuses on search engine technology, cloud computing, advertising, and other areas. It is one of the world’s most valuable companies, has offices across the U.S., and is headquartered in Mountain View, California. 

How to Leverage U.S. Visa Insights on Interstride

Interstride has provided a searchable directory of global employers that are hiring and sponsoring international talent. Interstride aggregates valuable data and insights that reflect the most accurate hiring trends in 2021 and 2022, and includes many Fortune 500 companies. 

Below is a list of the top 10 employers currently hiring international talent as Business Analysts. This specific business analyst list is the direct result of searching for Business Analysts roles that most likely provide H-1B visa sponsorship. 

Interstride sources this information from the U.S. Department of Labor, Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and top job boards. To see more visa insights filtered by company and position, along with the full list of employers sponsoring international talent, log into Interstride.

Interstride Search Tips:

  • Use the search filter to explore companies who are hiring and sponsoring international students based on visa type, industry, location, and more.
  • Review the number of visa petitions filed for each company and job position.
  • Filter your search by experience level. International students can search for entry-level career opportunities.