Finding a job after graduation is a looming concern for most students in their final year of college. But for Minah Kim (’22), an international student, there was an added layer of pressure.
“Because I am an international student, the process of getting a job and being secure to live in the US is so complicated compared to domestic students,” Minah said. “If I didn’t have a job by the time I graduated, I might have to fly back home.”
Minah, who is originally from South Korea, had lived in Oregon since the age of 14, first attending an international high school in southern Oregon, then Umpqua Community College, where she discovered a passion for psychology. She then transferred to Oregon State, drawn by the opportunities within the School of Psychological Science to gain a degree that would allow her to further her dream career – impacting the lives of children in need. By her final year at OSU, she had spent nearly half her life in the U.S.
“I built a close community here,” Minah said. “I am more comfortable here, more accepted here. I wanted to continue living in the U.S., wherever I ended up. My life is here.”
With her goals in mind: finding a career helping children, and doing so within the U.S., Minah turned to Karla Rockhold, her College of Liberal Arts career advisor, for support.
“Karla gave me a bunch of websites and tools to look into that are specifically for international students,” Minah said.
“She also helped me with reformatting my resume and explaining how it should look, which really helped. And she helped me through practice interview questions. She sat down with me and helped me figure out word by word what I would say.”
Armed with new tools and resources, Minah felt much more confident tackling her job search, even with a looming deadline.
Eager to have a job lined up before graduation, Minah began applying for jobs months before her graduation date – which didn’t always line up with the needs of the companies she was applying with.
“The hardest part of finding a job was the timing. I like to have things planned, I like to know what’s coming up, and I wanted to have the security so I could be at peace,” Minah said. “But if a company is interviewing you now, they want people now.”
Although she participated in multiple interviews over the course of her senior year, as graduation approached, she still didn’t have a job lined up. She did her best not to get discouraged, instead using each interview as a learning experience.
“Doing so many interviews, it provided me the time and opportunity to be more confident in the setting,” Minah said. “Your sentences become more fluent. They ask you similar questions. You learn to be more comfortable with yourself as well.”
Despite working to maintain a positive attitude, by the end of her last term, Minah was getting worried.
“I just kept thinking about how if I don’t have a job, I don’t know where I am going to be living,” she said. “It was a constant battle of waiting, working on my resume, and practicing interview questions. I’m doing all this, but at the end of the day I still don’t have a job. It was really hard to battle with that thought.”
The day of her last final exam at OSU, Minah was busy, frustrated, and stressed – she was studying, she was waiting to hear back about apartment possibilities, and she was preparing to welcome her parents, who were flying in the next day from South Korea for her graduation. And she was doing her best not to worry about the unknowns in her future.
Turns out, her worries were about to be over. That very day, she got the news she’d been waiting for.
“That was one of the most amazing days. That last day I got my apartment, I got my job, and finished my last final!” she said. “It was pretty overwhelming, but it actually did work out. On the last day, it worked out.”
Minah is now working as an early childhood educator with Family Building Blocks, an Oregon non-profit dedicated to providing preventative services at no cost to families facing overwhelming life circumstances. Minah works directly with young children and also builds relationships with parents, providing them with help and support. It’s exactly what she wanted: a career that allows her to help children and to stay near the life she’s built in Oregon.
Minah’s advice to other Oregon State students feeling pressure to find a job? Don’t give up, and take advantage of the career support at OSU.
“Use the resources you have as a student,” Minah said. “We pay for it! We might as well use it! Use the people here who can help you clean up your resume, don’t pay some random website to do it. OSU faculty are the best. I never met anyone who just does the job because it’s their job. They actually want to follow up with you and make sure you succeed.”
Job Resources for International Students
Working in the United States: information for international students from Oregon State’s Office of International Services
Tips for International Students for a U.S. Job or Internship Search: a guide from the Oregon State Career Development Center
Application Tips for International Students: a guide from the Oregon State Career Development Center
Resources for Interview Practice
Guide to Interviews: A complete overview of tips and best practices from the Oregon State Career Development Center
StandOut: OSU students can log in to practice interviewing on an interactive video interview tool
Sample Interview Questions: a list of common interview questions to review and practice answers for
Video Guide | Interview Like a Pro: this video from the Oregon State Career Development Center covers best practices for job interview success