For international students new to the country, MBA recruiting in the U.S. can be a daunting task. Now, as a second-year who has gone through the summer internship recruiting in full circle, I’ve taken a reflective look on my first-year recruiting experience to share my learnings:
1. You can’t have it all.
Saying attending business school is like drinking from a fire hose is an understatement. Indeed, it can feel like drinking from 1o fire hoses if you make additional extracurricular commitments outside of the normal schedule of academics and recruiting. When fall comes in full swing, the hectic schedule can even put a time management guru’s multi-tasking skills to the test. When it comes to the ‘iron triangle’ of social, academics, and recruiting, it is difficult to engage them fully all at once. Know your limit, prioritize, and don’t spread yourself too thin.
2. Latch onto your true north throughout recruiting.
Take a deep breath and reflect on what really matters to you. While it is easy to get carried away by the sheer volume of jobs available through campus recruiting, I recommend always being intentional and setting your priorities to align with your long-term goals and purpose. Recruiting decisions are your own conscious choices—don’t just follow the herd. Staying true to yourself will not only help you stay grounded but also set you up for success.
3. Take your story from “good” to “great.”
Coming from a non-linear career path, one of my biggest challenges was to stitch my story together in a cohesive, yet easily digestible and memorable manner. In that sense, I have found both formal resources such as Fuqua’s Career Management Center mock interview workshops and informal resources such as peer feedback enormously helpful. When it comes to interviews, practice makes perfect. Practice with a wide range of peers to get diverse feedback—we grow the most from stepping out of our comfort zone, not from resting on our laurels.
4. Authenticity goes a long way.
Networking and sip circles can be intimidating for internationals who are new to the U.S. culture. However, do not let fear get the better of you. Be yourself and let your personality shine through. For starters, try latching onto topics you feel comfortable (food, travels, and sports can all be easy icebreakers) and celebrate small wins to build confidence gradually. It is okay to take calculated risks and be humorous. Make a good effort and you’ll be remembered for a fun conversation and good laugh you added to a recruiter’s long day.
5. Learn to fail fast, and resilience triumphs.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, you may think, “I came to business school to succeed, not fail.” However, the paradox is that failure is almost inevitable. It is hard, or even painful. Yet, learning to fail, and fail fast, but still being able to bounce back was the biggest lesson in my first year at Fuqua. Take my dream company as an example. Despite hours of hard work poured into the recruiting process, I wasn’t at my best on interview day and my performance didn’t allow me to make the cut. What I learned that really matters is to stay positive and take the failure as a good learning experience. No self-denials please—sometimes we learn by celebrating our most painful failures. Give yourself a day to decompress and hit refresh.
6. Stay engaged.
Even if the right opportunities don’t come along during campus recruiting, do not give up hope. It is never over until it’s officially over. Fuqua has your back! Step up your game to tap the Fuqua or greater Duke community and connect with alumni to seek out additional opportunities. Custom recruiting off campus is usually less structured and more fluid than the campus process and building a human connection is key. Know your worth, self-promote in the right way, and stay engaged with all your touchpoints in the firm—patience and perseverance will find a way!