Q: Hi Frances, could you explain your professional background before you came to UIUC?
I studied transportation and logistics in Shanghai, China. The major taught me engineering, which established a solid foundation for my future career goals. I am in graduate track in the MSTM program. This means I do not have much work experience; However, I worked as an intern before at Johnson & Johnson Medical China. I took charge of due diligence projects, contract management projects and some routine work. Through the six month internship, I also used sales information management system in the company, which inspired my career goal as well.
Q: What made you come to the US and the Master’s program in Technology Management at UIUC?
After spending six months during internship, I recognized my interest in business. Engineering gave me a way to think logically and how to solve problems. At the same time, I realized the importance of understanding the business perspective. It is totally a different way of solving problems. We need to have leadership, team experience, case analysis ability and critical thinking. It is not only about having technology solutions, but also bringing the technology to customers. That’s why I choose technology management as my masters’ focus of study. I also consulted many people. I received admission from 7 out of 9 schools. I chose to come to UIUC because my father studied here and enjoyed the life and education here. The reputation of UIUC engineering school is also a reason. The combination of business and engineering is certainly a great choice for me to consolidate my knowledge and prepare for my career.
Q: This Master’s program is accelerated and the quick time frame doesn’t allow a long duration to search for jobs. How did you try to enhance your employability during your program?
I have strong goals and believed in myself that I could find a job. I did not complain. It is said that if you have a goal in your mind, you will try whatever you can to achieve that. Having a job is important to me because a job will help me to gain more experience after graduation especially for me as a fresh graduate. It is even important because I am an international student. It is very hard to start and to keep your faith in your mind. For me, it was the first year for me in the US. I needed to improve my communication skills. I participated in toastmasters to improve my public speech ability.
Taking leadership roles is very critical in practicing these skills. Many big companies come to campus and hire the best students. It is not just about your academic work, it is all about your personality and leadership, especially at the business career fair. During my time in the Technology Management Program, I always tried my best to encourage team members to work towards the same goal. Although it means I need to work harder than others, I enjoyed the process of group projects and experience I gained. I also participated in a leadership program, which allowed me to better understand myself and to be an effective leader in the future.
Q: How were the Career Center and other career services on campus helpful for your job search?
First, I worked with Business Career Services (BCS) to develop my resume and elevator pitch. This was the foundation for me because employers will only see your resume after you submit an application. The impression you give at the business career fair is your elevator pitch. Second, they gave me professional advice for my interview. I had mock interviews with different advisers. They helped me a lot to practice and improve. I got great help from Donna Foley (Previous Assistant Director of MSTM), Charles Kim (BCS) and Frances Sears (BCS, she is now the Assistant Director of MSTM).
Q: How did your job search go?
My job search process was full of challenges. I went through many channels including people that I know, company official web sites, LinkedIn and I-Link. I revised my resumes more than eight times. I only got one interview after the fall career fair. I was very sad. I reflected about what was going wrong within that process. It is a resume problem. So I sought advice from different people. They used different perspectives to change. Some people focused on grammar and others emphasized on content and action verbs. After that bottleneck, I got multiple interviews; a majority of them were phone interviews.
I failed most of time and only passed two of them to the second round. It was so stressful for me at that time. I was busy handling all these interviews but got declines every day. I knew I was in the second bottleneck again. I asked for more advice from Business Career Service. They really helped me a lot, from content to gesture and eye contact. In addition, with all these phone interviews experience, I got an idea of what manager’s normally ask and made me less nervous. I filed all the interview questions and the questions I asked back. With this information, I could come up with my mind easily and told them a vivid story. The more you practice, the better you will be. When I look back, I feel it was worth and necessary to do all of them and it is both painful and great experience because you will enjoy the results when you persist with your job search. Many people may complain and say it is not possible for international students and did not even go to the career fair. Keep your faith and goal in mind! You will do a better job.
Q: how did you find your full time position?
My full time position will be in SAP consulting function in Pricewaterhouse Coopers. This is also an important and memorable experience for me. The total processes ran for two months. The most important thing is to know the company well. It is good to read all the news and company websites. If you know some people within company, talk to them and mention sometime when you talked to your recruiter, which will show your interest of company. One month later, I had an office visit with three consecutive interviews with different level of people in the firm. It was a long day with tests on your personality, behavior and technical skills. It is really important to find some “Chemistry” between you and your interviewer. That’s why many people say that they make their decision within the first 10 seconds. As you know, I am an international student. So it is not a smooth road. I was on a waiting list after interview.
At that point, I was very sad. But “never give up” comes to my mind. I emailed my interviewers and showed my interest. I attached my leadership profile. I even translated my undergraduate thesis from Chinese to English to show my sincerity because my interviewer talked about that with me and expressed interests in reading it. Translating nights was a nightmare for me. I did it on my trip in San Francisco. I kept my faith in my mind and finally sent it out after five days of working. Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength. That’s how I finally got the offer.
Of course, without previous experience, I cannot make it as well. It was a long journey with gradual accumulation. But it resulted in a new start for me.
Q: Do you have any messages you’d like to share with international students who are searching for a job or are preparing for their future career?
• Set your goals and trust your ability
• Seek advice from Business Career Service and peers
• Make networking with people, including professors, alumni, and senior students from MSTM. It is said that 80% of jobs are settled by networking.
• But also remember to give back when you are successful. I remember all the people helped me in this year. Thank you all!
• Start NOW!!!