For hundreds of years, many people from foreign lands have dreamt of working in the United States. I am just one of them.
Entering the world’s top 30 MBA program at Emory University in Atlanta was the culmination of my dream. My accomplishments – earning my MBA degree, getting elected as the representative for international students, and receiving the International Ambassador Award at graduation – were sources of immense pride. My only remaining challenge was to find a way to participate in America’s economy, to find a job in the worst economic situation in the past 25 years.
Now put yourself in my shoes. Imagine you were a recent MBA graduate in the U.S., originally from another country, and had the same experience.
You accomplished an intermediate goal: An internship during your first year of study. You worked hard, and you thought a full-time offer would surely be forthcoming. Then the company restructured, reducing employees from 6,500 to 4,800, so you didn’t even get close to negotiating for the full-time opportunity.
Soon the economy started to collapse, and Lehman Brothers went bankrupt overnight, causing what was once the financial center of the world to be recast as a city of evil and greed. You started to doubt the possibility of getting a job or even contributing anything to the economy and culture, and you started to wonder whether staying in this land was a good idea to begin with.
But you didn’t want to give up, not just yet, because you realized that the reason to stay was bigger than just earning money or finding a job. You found joy and fulfillment in this foreign land. Again, you kept your head up, stayed positive and kept looking.
Six months after graduation, you finally found a professional opportunity you really liked. You were motivated and ready to learn, grow and contribute. Unfortunately, your new employer soon became a victim of the economic downturn, started to lose business and decided not to sponsor your working visa, so they laid you off. You were the last one in, the first one out.
For many, now would be the time to give up and return home. You have three months left before your student visa expires, and the prospects for finding another employer to sponsor your visa are highly unlikely.
The morning after being laid off, I woke up early, updated my resume, applied for jobs, and started extensive networking. Six weeks went by – companies began to release earning reports showing recovery from the recession, and more importantly, I began to gain traction in showing employers how my skills and experiences can benefit them. The only factor working against me now is my need for a company to sponsor my H1B work visa.
My clock is ticking, and here I am with six weeks remaining on my student OPT (optional practical training, F-1) visa. I remember my dream of living in this land of possibilities. Yes, the so-called American Dream – that is why I am still here fighting. I don’t want to have any regrets in the future, and I don’t want to be left wondering why I didn’t fight harder for what I wanted.
“Too many people are fighting for a job in this land,” I told myself, “but I am not just one of them.”
I majored in international business in college, and have built up my international perspective by living in different continents, learning languages and experiencing cultures. With the knowledge of Japanese, Spanish, German, English and Mandarin, with the experience of working with people across the world, and with the knowledge of running business internationally, I can help companies make profitable decisions in the face of diverse global markets and cultural complexity.
So I’ll continue to look for an opportunity to contribute and bring my unique mix of skills, education, experience and perspective to the business community. The United States is not foreign to me anymore – this is the place with the most advanced technology and best resources, the place where I want to launch my dream. In the near future, the world will be in need of global business people like me to make a difference.
“Great opportunities will come, when the time is right,” I deeply believe in that.
Ms. Wang received a master’s in business administration from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in May 2009. She received her bachelor’s degree in international business and international relations from National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, in May 2005. She may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.