Every year thousands of students come to the U.S. for higher education. Most of the Indian students are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) majors. There is a big demand in the U.S. for people with technical skills and most of the students coming here do fairly well after school. However,there is always a challenge when students start looking for their first job after completing school. They have to deal with coursework, part time jobs, and interview preparations in addition to applying for full time jobs. It is a hard slog for most students. That said, there are specific things you can do to get your resume to the top of the pile and get a job faster.
- Networking — This is a skill that we don’t grow up learning in India. Networking is really important in the U.S. irrespective of your major. It is important that you get to know more people and form relationships with them over time. Study groups, social events, and technical events are a good way to meet people relevant to your field. Referrals are highly valued in the job market and a referral from the right person can give you an advantage even before the interview.
- Research Assistantships — Working with professors is another good way to add value to your resume. When employers look at resumes, they are looking for skills and experience in solving practical problems. These projects reflect that you can work on larger practical problems and that you have learned technical tools needed in the industry. The projects also help you build relationships with professors and they can act as great references for you in the future.
- Internships — We did an analysis of students who had full time job offers and looked back at how many of them had internships. We found that having a summer internship at a big company gives a considerable boost to your resume even if you didn’t get an offer from that company. Try as hard as you can to find an internship at a good company and you will improve your chances for a full time job by at least 4x.
- Projects — There are interesting things you can do on your own without much supervision. You can take help from your friends and build something interesting and cool over time. Don’t be shy from putting your project out there for feedback. It usually helps you improve it considerably and can be a distinguishing factor during a job interview. Employers are always looking for people with passion who have done interesting things. Projects are a good way to highlight that you like to work on problems that are not a part of your daily work load.
- Practice — All of the above will mean nothing if you don’t practice for your interview. It is really important and people systematically underestimate the importance of practice for interviews. There is always tons of free material out there that you can use for practicing and improving your interview skills. Try to understand the problems and their solutions rather than memorizing by heart. All interview problems can be solved by understanding the fundamentals. So make sure you understand the basic principles when practicing these interview problems.
If you do these things, you are guaranteed to find a job and possibly have multiple full time job offers months before you graduate. Graduating knowing that you already have a job offer makes it a lot more fun and rewarding. Good luck!
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