By Brett Boettcher, NCA associate director of professional program strategy & management, serving students in the School of Professional Studies and master’s students in The Graduate School.
Welcome to Northwestern Career Advancement’s (NCA) international master’s student blog series. This series is designed to provide international master’s students with career information and strategies. Find our previous posts here. This blog series is a collaboration between NCA and The International Office.
New graduate students entering short-term master’s programs can have a number of concerns. Some are thoroughly engaged in pursuing scholarship and classes, while others are considering their career options beyond Northwestern – will they seek a job with a new employer or seek a new role with their current employer? If your case is the latter, you are likely wondering how you’ll manage your job search and your program. Short-term programs will require you to be planned and motivated. The extra challenge will be if you are a new international student. The adjustment to the US and Northwestern can complicate job options and searching. The intention of this blog is to provide international Master’s students, who are in short-term programs, with a strategy to manage job searching while at Northwestern.
Note: For this blog, “short-term master’s programs” refer to those whose duration lasts 12 to 18 months.
Consider Your Job Search Plan
If you have already met with your career adviser and developed a job search plan, then make sure that you are following your plan and are achieving your goals. Meet with your career adviser frequently to stay motivated. If you have not developed your job search plan, it is strongly suggested that you meet with a career adviser as soon as you can. Your career adviser at Engineering Career Development, Medill Career Services, EPICS, or NCA will assist you to create a customized job search plan that is unique to your situation and interests. A planned job search will mean a more efficient, effective, and less stressful search. You will better understand what to do and when and what resources and strategies will best fit your search.
Meet with Your Academic Adviser Regularly
Your Academic Adviser and/or department can be a great support during your job/internship search as they can provide program-specific information and resources. Some programs offer listserv or LinkedIn groups for information and networking. Ask about any alumni resources for networking!
Understand Recruiting Cycles
During your planning meeting with your career adviser, make sure that you have a discussion on the hiring style and cycles that align with your industry of choice. Not all industries or recruiters hire right away in the Fall Quarter, but it is important that you get accurate information on when your industry hires. This discussion will drive much of your job search. Furthermore, your career adviser can suggest strategies and resources that are helpful for your industry of choice.
When to Start Job Searching
If you are in a short-term program and if recruiting for your industry of choice does not follow a spring hiring cycle, it is advised that you start the job search process at the beginning of your program. This of course can put you in a challenging position since you may be just starting to learn the skills that the employers you are applying to are seeking. Your career adviser can assist you with your resume, LinkedIn profile, and elevator pitch to make sure you are in the best position you can be in based on your unique experiences. Your academic adviser/department can also inform you on helpful strategies that have been used by other students from your program.
Do I want an Internship?
Internships can be another option for international students to gain practical experience in their industry of choice. If you are in a short-term program, you should consider your options carefully. Depending upon your industry of choice, it may be that you will need to search for an internship at the same time you are searching for a full-time job. For technology jobs for example, the full-time job search can run from early Fall Quarter to early Winter Quarter, while the internship search can start in October and can last until February. It is advised that you meet with your academic adviser or department so that you can give careful thought to your academic plans – you may need an extra quarter for your internship.
As you complete the first quarter of your short-term program and begin your job/internship search, there are a few things to complete:
- Create and have your resume & cover letter reviewed
- Talk about networking and learn to use resources with your faculty and advisers
- Learn about career-related programs and events specific to career service offices and your academic department
- Follow your plan to make your search manageable