It has been almost three years since I first left my home country, Taiwan, a place I call home, which is filled with life and memories. Studying abroad in another country seemed like an impossible challenge when I first graduated from high school, and I had no idea what to expect.
As an international student studying Economics and Accounting, college has been more than an early preparation for adult life, it has taught me the value of my identity as a global citizen.
It is common to hear people say “Finding a job will never be an issue for you if you are majoring in Economics and Accounting”. This may be true in some ways; however, this expectation can burden international students as we start searching for jobs.
Finding a job in the United States is challenging for international students because it requires a substantial long-term investment of both time and money.
Like it has been with others, the job search process has never been easy for me. I can still remember the painful, hopeless feeling of receiving multiple rejection emails in one day. These failures seem to numb my feelings as time goes on. Sometimes I wondered why getting a job matters so much to me.
Later, I realized that this emotional burden came from my self-imposed expectation to repay my parents’ personal and financial investments in me. Having the opportunity to study in the United States has given me access resources that I could not obtain in Taiwan.
The labels such as “non-native speaker” and “international” sometimes cover up our abilities and potential as a candidate in the job market. People expect international students to have other “values” to offset the deficiency in language skill and differences. Knowing that I have to prepare myself to be “more than qualified,” I have put in extra effort to get involved in various organizations and positions on campus to achieve my goal of getting an internship. However, what I have learned from the process goes far beyond preparing for jobs.
I came to realize that entering the workforce is just arriving at a destination. In the end, all I need is just one yes from someone that recognizes my value and potential. The process of getting there might be harder for international students, but it also allows us to reevaluate our goals and discover our value as individuals.
I still remember what my dad told me after I received my first rejection email. “There might be a limit of how far you can achieve in the job market as an international student, but there is no limit of how much you can gain from the process of confronting challenges and failures”. It did not make sense to me at that moment.
All I was thinking about was how I failed to pay back my parents, and why I was not reaching my goals no matter how hard I tried. After getting more involved in my organizations and positions, I realized how much I gave up just to chase my goal of successfully getting a job.
While I was so focused on my future career, I failed to consider how the struggles that I have been through have equipped me to be a more courageous warrior.
International students’ identities will never change, but how we define these identities and confront the challenges that we face determine what we can gain out of the process. We might never be the perfect candidates for certain jobs, but the strength and courage we gain by challenging ourselves means more than getting a job ever could.