Navigating the “Real World” as an International Citizen

Posted on July 10, 2014

This is a guest blog post from Lauren Berger Inc. reader, James Ozturk — an international citizen from Istanbul, Turkey. James attended Boston University and is now working at a Life Science Consulting Company in Silicon Valley. He had never previously traveled to the states before moving here, nor did he have any family here upon arrival; all he had was “a dream and a drive to achieve it.” He hopes that this post can inspire international students and help them better navigate the professional world after graduation.

The first thing you need when building your career in the states is a network. A professional network not only gives you the edge over the other hundreds of thousands of students who graduate every year, but it also gives you a support system. As good as merit is, you need something to make you stand out; you need an “in.” A lot of American citizens have that via family, friends, or previous employment, so you have a bit of catching up to do. Go to networking events, connect with supervisors — make people believe in you! Sending follow up letters and keeping in touch with people is very important as well.

In addition, you have to deal with the stereotypes. Although some jobs are outright not possible (mostly national security related — military, government work, federal hospitals, and law) most companies are able to hire international citizens. Just because they are able to, however, does not mean that they have before or are willing to try it out. Generally, there are two reasons for this: costs and paperwork. If they refuse, you can and should explain that you are willing to carry the costs and the paperwork. For many companies, it can be actually cost effective since they only have to pay the average rate for the position as specified in the H1 (worker) visa. Another benefit you can always bring up is the unique twist that being an international citizen gives you; you can add value and insight that might be different from their previous hires.

Yes, it is harder to get a job in the United States if you are an international citizen; however, it is very much worth it. You have to be aware of your weaknesses and strengths; you have to battle many battles along the way and keep your spirits up for the next interview after being rejected 100 times; but most importantly, you have to never forget the dream that brought you in here in the first place. As we say at Argopoint, “The difference between success and failure is not IQ, educational pedigree, or experience [or in my case, citizenship] – it’s about motivation, organization, and self-discipline. We hope you embrace the challenge ahead!”

We hope that this blog post is helpful for international citizens who are looking to navigate the “real world” in the United States. For more career advice, read my new book, Welcome to the Real World!