Graduates find rewards and consequences for international origins
This article was first published by The Daily Bruin.
By Sherese Tong
GRADUATING INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS at UCLA have tackled the disadvantage of being foreigners in the U.S. At the same time, they have utilized their distinctive strengths and gained invaluable experience at UCLA in preparation for future careers.
Janet Meadows, a counselor at the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, said international students have strengths such as flexibility, adaptability and cross-cultural skills.
“International students have a lot of strengths that they can bring to job interviews,” Meadows said. “They also may have a more global mindfulness, which is increasingly important to employers. Language skills are definitely a plus – international students are usually bilingual or trilingual.”
Upon graduation, three international students in particular look toward their future and hope to implement the skills they have gained at UCLA.
Stela Vlahova, a UCLA Anderson School of Management student from Bulgaria, is going to work for a management consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Bulgaria after graduation.
Vlahova said a UCLA education and degree are great assets to her future career not only back in Bulgaria but in Europe in general.
“European companies are very interested in acquiring people with MBA degree from a leading business school in the U.S., so I think this is how UCLA Anderson School helped. It’s a brand. It’s a well-known school,” Vlahova said.
But she did not come to UCLA only for its prestige.
“Coming here for two years gave me a global perspective. I could see the business world in a more cohesive way,” Vlahova said. “That’s going to help me go back and look at issues beyond my own country and beyond Europe.”
She said she debated whether to work in the U.S. or in Bulgaria but in the end decided that she could contribute more in her home country.
Joe ChungZu Liao, a fourth-year Design | Media Arts student from Hong Kong, agreed that UCLA has given him great international exposure, something that he values as much as finding a job or orientation in life.
He has decided to go to Tanzania for six months after graduation to further his international experience in a less-developed country.
“I think it’s important to experience both sides of the world. I think it would provide me with a more balanced perspective,” Liao said.
He said as an international student, he has the advantage of knowing Chinese – a language that is becoming increasingly common worldwide. Even though he came from a cultural background very different from that of the U.S., he said he has learned a lot from the American culture.
“Americans are really good at presentations, such as public speaking, and that’s one thing that I lack learning in my education back home. Having taken a class in the theatre department in my freshman year has definitely helped me a lot in that aspect,” Liao said. “Also Americans are much more trained in management, and I’ve learned that from experience with working with various organizations on campus.”
However there are also some international students who are frustrated with their job prospects due to their non-citizen status.
Shruti Krishnan, a fourth-year theater student from Singapore, is actively looking for a job in the performing industry in the U.S. as a performer.
Krishnan said her long term career path is uncertain because she is only allowed a period of three months to find a job in the U.S. after graduation.
”My status as a non-U.S. resident is my biggest obstacle, definitely, because if I was able to have a green card everything would be set, I think,” Krishnan said. “I would be able to look for an acting job indefinitely, without having a time limit.”
She said her status as a non-U.S. citizen is the only thing that deters her from trying to succeed in her career.
“In my eyes, if I was to say myself and an American citizen are both looking for one role in a TV show, and the producer thinks I’m better suited for the role, it would be a shame to lose that simply because I’m not a citizen,” Krishnan said.
However she said her education at UCLA has also provided her with professional training in the performing industry.
“I think it has given me the training that any actor can use as a foundation to launch their career,” Krishnan said. “In the theater department there are a lot of different teachers bringing out different styles of teaching, different methods of acting, and studying these has definitely made me know myself better.”
Published: Monday, June 09, 2008
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