Andres Cuellar- Master of Business Administration, December 2020
How has your time at UTSA been helpful in your career development?
UTSA offered me many resources that helped me obtain a Graduate Supply Chain internship offer with Dell Technologies. In the first weeks of the semester, I visited the career center for resume and cover letter reviews. I met with two counselors, Mysti Frazier and Lisa Vigil, who helped me tailor my resume and prepare for interviews. I did so because I like to get different opinions and both of them provided me with great advice in different areas to better market myself during the career fair process.
I also used Handshake to research companies and positions. I only targeted companies that I was interested in and knew had positions that matched my profile as an international student. I still talked to other companies during the career fair but more for networking and out of curiosity on their business.
What/ who helped you determine your career path or what led you to decide to pursue the internship you just obtained?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and worked in the manufacturing industry for 3 years. During those assignments, I became more interested in the business aspect of the work. I realized that if I wanted to move up to a management or business development role I needed to develop my business acumen. As a result, I decided to pursue an MBA at UTSA.
How has working with the University Career Center helpful for you in securing your opportunity?
Career Counselors at UTSA are very knowledgeable and after a couple of meetings with them, I was able to better market myself to companies. They coached me to improve my resume by focusing more on my accomplishments from work history rather than a detailed explanation of my day to day activities. They also told me how to use Handshake more effectively and referred me to other job search sources specific to international students.
In addition, I attended an event the Career Center and International Student Services organized to network with companies that were open to hiring F-1 students. Google and Idaho National Laboratory were some of the companies attending the event. I was able to network with people in different companies and other international students. It gave me the inspiration to keep applying and preparing for my next role as it showed me that many big companies were willing to hire international students.
What advice you can offer students on how they might be successful in securing opportunities and/or making the most of their career development?
Relating to international students; they need to be aware that landing an internship and full-time job can be a very challenging experience. Most companies are not open to hiring F-1 students. But, do not let this fact discourage you from researching and applying to as many companies as you can. In many cases even though companies do not advertise they hire F-1 students, if the right candidate shows up, they might be able to make an exception. That is how I landed my first full-time job in Environmental Engineering. Also, once you land your first position, it will be easier to find the next one as your work history and skills will be more relevant than your visa status.
In the meantime, start by using the University resources to look for advice and information on what steps you can take to find your next role. Keep an eye for networking events and attend. You will meet people in similar situations or who were in your position at some point. From my experience, most people are very friendly and open to help or give advice during those events.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
As an international student, it is not a bad idea to take an unpaid internship because those will open the door for better-paid work opportunities. When I was close to graduate from my bachelor’s degree, I did not have any work experience related to my degree. That lack of experience made my search for full-time jobs more difficult. At that point, I decided to email and call startups companies in my area and offer free work for experience in my field of study.
Many didn’t reply, others told me, no, but one of them agreed to meet with me. They were really friendly and decided to give me a project they needed help to complete and did not have the funds to hire an engineer. They were happy that I had the technical knowledge from school to do that project and I was thankful they gave me the opportunity to work with them and learn more about startups.
That experience helped me have a stronger resume and shortly after, I received a full-time job offer from a company that was interested in the project I had done with the startup. My advice to international students is to not be afraid to send emails or letters to companies and directly ask about opportunities. It is important that you also tell them what you can offer them. This will give you access to job opportunities that are not posted online and a competitive advantage against people that only apply online.