International alumni returned to Hamilton to impart a few words of wisdom - and caution – to their successors, who make up roughly 6% of the entire student body. Members of the International Students Association were joined by Sadiq Abubakar ’15, Ujjawal Pradhan ’15 and Zak Cherrabi ’12 and Mbuotidem Isaac ’15, who Skyped in to participate in the panel.
The alumni were quick to provide advice. “Your job hunt starts now,” said Pradhan, who works at Merrill Lynch as an energy credit analyst. “Complacency will only hurt you in the long run. You lose nothing by getting head start and a feel for the job market.”
“The earlier you start, the better,” agreed Abubakar, now the founder of his own startup company TruTailored. “I participated in internships in my second year and had high school sophomores interning alongside me. I remember feeling as though I had wasted time by not being quicker on the uptake when it came to securing internships.”
In discussing challenges he faced as an international student in his quest for work, Cherrabi, a major account executive at Instart Logic, highlighted the difficulty non-citizens encounter in obtaining proper employment authorization. “Getting an H-1B [work visa] is very difficult. It’s a lottery, and I think they achieve a cap on applications within the first four days. So as an international, you have to have multiple backup plans in case you don’t get it.”
Abubakar advised students to try and get the STEM OPT extension (a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field) if possible. “It gives you two more years to not only figure out a plan of action, but to also prove your worth to the company you work at,” he said.
The panelists agreed that the most valuable resource available to Hamilton students is the Career Center. “Whether it’s drafting a strong resume, writing persuasive cover letters or practicing for an interview, the Career Center can help you with it,” Cherrabi said.
“They also help you greatly in networking with alumni,” said Isaac. “When I went to them my senior year asking for help to find a job, they put me in touch with a bunch of Hamilton alums who were more than happy to assist me,” he recalled.
In concluding, the alumni offered sage advice such as creating LinkedIn accounts. Pradhan added, “Don’t take anything for granted. Enjoy your every minute here at Hamilton and have a great experience, but don’t put yourself in a position where you regret not doing more later.”
The event was made possible with the help of Student Assembly, Dean of Students and the ESOL Center.