Monday, October 24, 2011

Part III: Finding Employment as an Expatriate

For the last section of our three-part discussion with recent Arts and Science Alumni, we spoke to Yu-Chen Chen, a 27-year-old GSAS Political Science graduate. Yu-Chen is originally from Taiwan and currently lives in NYC.

Upon graduating from GSAS in 2008, Yu-Chen felt pressured—not only due to the economy, but also because her job search was on a time-limit. As a foreign student without a green card, Yu-Chen only had one year to find a company willing to sponsor her working visa. “I needed to find a company willing to tell the government why they wanted to hire me instead of another American citizen, and explain why I am so special that I deserve a job.”


Pressured by American immigration policies, Yu-Chen buckled down and developed a strategic, purposeful job-search strategy. At first, Yu-Chen remembers that she would spend anywhere from 7-8 hours per day applying for jobs: “so much time…and you think you would get something in return. And you do—frustration! My mind was initially just ‘job, job, job.’ Wake up, go straight to the computer, and apply for jobs. It wasn’t good at all.”

After a few days, Yu-Chen realized this technique wasn’t working. So she decided to change her strategy. “I limited myself to applying for jobs only one hour per day. I did not want to waste time. Instead, I did a lot of reading and I prepared for interviews. I recorded myself, listened to the recording, talked to myself, and anticipated questions. Since English is not my first language, I tried to frame my words to make them more appealing.

…Since I knew the type of job I was applying for [marketing research and analysis], I made a cover letter template and modified it based on whichever position I applied for. I was able to quickly send out 10-15 applications per day, and I created a spread sheet to track the companies I was interested in and had applied to.”

In addition to time management, Yu-Chen also told us that networking was an essential strategy for her job search. Specifically, networking through LinkedIn and NYU networking groups proved to be very helpful. We asked Yu-Chen how LinkedIn could best be utilized in this situation: “Join lots of professional groups,” she said, “and keep updating your profile. Recruiters notice that. Also, post questions. There are many experts and gurus on LinkedIn that will notice your questions, respond to you and become a connection.”

Yu-Chen now works as a Research Manager in Customer Loyalty for GFK Custom Research North America, the fourth-largest market research company in the world.

“Why did they choose you?” we asked.

“They needed someone who was technically savvy. I noticed that a lot of new hires in social and political science were not very technical. Most recent grads knew a lot about theory but not how to apply that theory or incorporate it into technical research tools. I provided a working example proving my technical abilities.”

Yu-Chen’s advice is simple: “Make the best use of your time. Don’t spend the whole day applying for jobs. Use your time to improve yourself and to demonstrate that you are so amazing that people will want to hire you. If you spend eight hours applying for jobs, they don’t care. They only care if you are a strong candidate. They won’t know how many jobs you’ve applied for—they only know what you are capable of.”

A special thank you to Yu-Chen Chen, Nora Strecker and Alexander Pogrebinsky for their time and participation.

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