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Beyond the Hill: International alumni share personal advice

International St. Olaf alumni gave career advice to current international students on April 21.  Hosted by the Piper Center for Vocation and Career, “Beyond the Hill” is a program series designed to support students of diverse identities with their career exploration,” the St. Olaf website said.

The event began with mingling and ice cream as the alumni greeted each other and current students. Assistant Director for International Student Engagement Megan Carmes asked the alumni what career advice they had for current international students.

Mang Han ’18, a data scientist, started by advising students to determine what career they want as early as possible.

“Graduation is coming, what are you going to do with your life?” Han said. “You cannot figure it out in four years, but it’s good to think about it at least.”

Mazen Abusharkh `18, a project manager, agreed.

“The reason you’re in college is to get a job,” Abusharkh said. “You need to tailor yourself and tailor your major and start doing projects that make you the best candidate for that job.”

Marlyne Hakizimana ’18, a data specialist, said students should try to have an internship experience before they graduate.

“I thought I wanted to do graduate school, so I did a lot of research on campus, but those don’t tend to translate too easily into the industry world,” Hakizimana said. “So try to at least have one internship.”

Some of the alumni emphasized the importance of making connections.

“The reason you’re in college is to get a job. You need to tailer yourself and tailor your major and start doing projects that make you the best candidate for that job.” – Mazen Abusharkh ’18

“When you just meet someone for coffee, get more information, that has got me a number of different opportunities,” Prabana Mendis ’18, an art organizer, said. “I think once you’re in the work world it’s a lot easier to navigate through those networks, but when you’re in school it feels like a daunting task. I wish I had experience doing that in school too.”

Fred Eduam ’18, an environmental lab worker, said the process of making connections can often be informal. He found his current job after telling a friend what he is interested in. 

Alex Hemmer ’18, a content specialist, advised students to start saving money, as it is often difficult for international students to find work.

“It will go a long way when you’re intentional about it,” Hemmer said. “There are so many unexpected costs that rise up throughout your four years here. I think there’s a lot that you can do with the little that you make if you’re intentional and ask around for tips and read online.”

Deepak Shah ’18, a cyber security worker, advised students to get a driver’s license, something many international student do not have.

“I had a permit in my junior year, probably for three months, I never got a license, I waited for two years, once I graduated I didn’t have anyone who could drive me, I would drive on my own – illegal,” Shah said. “I have a license now.”

Morountodun Adebiyi ’18, an administrative assistant, said students should have a positive outlook and keep an open mind.

“Try everything, don’t be afraid to pursue the goals that you have on your mind, regardless of what family or parents say,” Adebiyi said.

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