Student Perspectives: Journey Since First Year by Hinali Shah

Student Perspectives provides an inside look to the career exploration and job search process from the student’s point of view.  This feature is written entirely by students who want to share their experiences to other students and industry professionals and provide feedback on our services and how we can assist them in their career planning.  

 

Journey Since First Year

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Architecture was an unfamiliar territory, even when I started architecture school.

Always having an interest in the arts, and having the ability to draw and paint, my parents suggested I consider the field of architecture as a possible career option. Being clueless about the real world, I took an architecture class during my senior year of high school, and I liked it. It didn’t teach me about the fundamentals,just how to use one of the popular programs. I liked designing my dream house as the final project, which made me decide to go for this career path.

My first semester at New York Institute of Technology was extremely difficult. I was thrown into a design class from day one, and realized that I didn’t truly have a basis of what architecture was. The knowledge I had from my high school class was not enough. I struggled that first semester, and during the winter break of 2014, I pushed myself to the extreme to understand and better my designing and model-making skills. I have continued to push myself for the past 4 years I have been in this school, which has helped me to love this field that I once found impossible. I’ve encountered some amazing mentors and have made steps to overcome my shy personality to ask for help and resources when needed.

When I started working as a student ambassador at Career Services in 2015, I met a lot of staff who encouraged me to participate in different activities on and off campus, which helped me develop leadership skills. Since I have been working there, I have helped organize many firm visits, curated an art show, and headed a voter registration contest. This responsibility also lead me to get more confident in the classroom. I was able to ask questions when I didn’t understand something and to take pride in my own work, which is a must in architecture. This past semester, I got an internship at a celebrated architecture magazine and during the spring break, I was able to travel to the Dominican Republic with 11 other students and help build a home for a woman in need. This happened because I made myself aware of what NYIT had to offer, whether it be academic, extracurricular, or experiential opportunities, and I was able to take action and participate.

For new students who are reading this, my advice to you is to join a club or get an on-campus job in your first year of school. It will help you get more connections and aid you in your transition from a high school to a college atmosphere. Also identify the areas in which you struggle, because there are tons of resources like peer tutoring, counselors in career services, volunteer organizations like the Community Service Center, financial aid office, etc., which can help you to break through your barriers or be there for you when needed.

 

 

Hinali Shah is a senior majoring in Bachelor of Architecture at New York Institute of Technology. She was born in India, but moved to the United States at the age of 13. Her passions include learning about cultural architecture, travelling, writing, and fashion styling. So far her favorite city apart from New York is Barcelona. 

Developing Your Career Plan

Finding employment in any industry at any time can be a daunting task.  In order to find a rewarding career that you are passionate about, you should devise a plan to help you map it out.

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What is your career goal? 

The first and most important question that you must ask yourself, what do you want to do?  Whether it’s becoming an engineer, architect, a doctor, or a teacher, find something that inspires you.  Your family and friends may have their own opinions on the type of career you should have, but at the end of the day, you should choose a career that feels right for you.

Not sure about which career path to take? Think about the skills and interests you possess.  Are you good with numbers?  Do you have an interest in art?   If you have trouble figuring out your skills, try doing a self-assessment to evaluate your interests.

If you’re debating between a few different career options, opportunity is something to consider.  Choosing a career that has job growth could be a major factor in your decision.  You can research data collected on the job market and trends by The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

What type of training do you need for your career goal? 

Once you figure out what your career goal is, you will need to figure out the type of training you need to get there.  Can your current major provide you with the background and education necessary for this career?  Do you need additional schooling such as a graduate degree or technical training?  What type of internships or on-site training can you obtain that will prepare you for this career?

Develop your career plan

At NYIT, we help our students start thinking about what they will do after graduation during their first year.  Our Career Services office can help explore professional development resources and answer many of the questions listed in this post.  We created a career plan that guides you toward setting short-term goals while working toward your ideal career.

 

How to Ace a Job Interview as an International Student

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In this competitive job market, it is critical to be highly prepared and practice before every job interview. You will only get one shot to stand out. As an international students, you are competing against domestic students who may have the same skills and education. Here are 5 ways you can stand out, and ace every job interview.

  • No dead fish handshakes. Talk about a bad first impression. Every recruiter wants to hire a candidate who is confident in his/her work, skills and self. When you walk into that interview room, put on your biggest smile and give your interviewer a firm handshake with the right amount of strength. No need to break bones. Also, sit straight as it sends a message of intelligence and confidence. Tell yourself you own that room, you are the best at what you do and they need you. You need to believe it.
  • Articulate: As an international student you may be self conscious about your accent and constantly second guess your worth in this competitive job search race. You’ve probably told yourself several times “I have an accent, they will never hire me”. Fun fact, did you know that the CEOs of companies like Mcdonald’s, Microsoft, Kellog’s, Altria and many others were foreign born? Yes that’s right; many so called “aliens” hold high leadership positions in this country. What matters are your skills, experience and ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Keep in mind that everyone has an accent, whether you are from New York, Mumbai or Hong Kong. Your eloquence will make recruiters look past it. Don’t try to speak too fast. When answering questions, speak slowly but surely and articulate every word you say. And that’s something you can practice during your free time. You can take some free spoken English lessons online to practice your language skills.
  • Understand the benefits of diversity: Many companies pride themselves on diversity initiatives. As an international student, you are bringing with you a different worldview, creative ideas and methods of solving problems. You are unique and think differently. You have the ability to adapt to changes and new environments. On top of that, you can help the company tap into a new market or better understand a current market or demographic you represent. In this global economy, the diversity of the staff will help companies enter new markets and understand global challenges. When asked the question “why should we hire you?”, don’t miss out on this opportunity to sell yourself and address how your foreign background and experience will benefit the company, its clients and stakeholders.
  • Your skills are transferable: Create parallels between your previous work experience abroad and the job description. The environment, practices and technology might be different, but the objectives and expectations in the workplace are very similar around the world. Talk about the skills you used and developed while living and working abroad and how you can apply them to the current role. Whether you are an expert in Ingenieria Eléctrica (Spanish), génie électrique (French) or Engenharia elétrica (Portuguese) you know how to design electrical systems by developing and testing components.
  • Become an immigration expert. Many employers are unfamiliar with immigration laws or have misconceptions about the timelines and cost of hiring international students. It’s your responsibility to learn everything about CPT, OPT, H1B, work permits, costs and procedures and be ready to educate your hiring manager. By mastering the processes, you will help eliminate the fear associated with hiring you. Also, the research you’ve done and your ability to clearly educate the hiring manager on a complex topic like immigration will also reaffirm your ability to solve problems and communicate effectively at work.

 

Bonne chance!

Staying the Course

Staying the Course

Whether in love or business, persevering through challenging times may reap the greatest rewards. There    may be times when you feel like you just can’t go on. Your workplace or love life is riddled with the same old insurmountable problems, that no matter what you do, no solutions appear on the horizon. Granted, some situations may be beyond your control, or worse, harmful to your health or well-being, and the best course of action may be to exit stage left. But, when in your gut you know there is a greater purpose for you to stay the course, here are some insights that may help you do just that.

  1. Resilience – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I needed to develop a thicker skin. In love and business, I would read too deeply into what people said to me. I took things personally that I shouldn’t have. Few people are eloquent speakers; sometimes they just don’t know how best to articulate the message they want to deliver. While difficult, I’d listen, sometimes cry like a wimp on the inside, and take some time to process the intended message. More often than not, a good lesson was buried in there, and when I made sense of it, l was better for it. Sometimes, it’s you and not them, and if you give up too fast, you might miss it.
  2. Personal Growth – I stayed in my first full-time job for ten years, five years longer than I felt I should. It was a great job, but I felt ready for the next step and it wasn’t being offered to me. Truth be told, I was scared to throw all of my energy into a job search, but I knew for certain that there was more out there . I decided to stop being whiny and miserable at work asked for more responsibility, without insisting on a raise. I wanted to prove myself to my employer, but most importantly to myself. In my mind, I pretended to be my boss. I owned the work I took on and performed it the way I’d want “my staff” to. I developed professionally more in those five years than I could have imagined and it prepared me for my boss’s job at a different place of employment. A change in your mindset and your approach might make the relationship more fruitful.
  3. Fulfillment – This year, I will be married to my husband for 21 years, and there have been times when I was d-o-n-e! I married when I was twenty years old, just a baby in hindsight. We have been through the highest highs and the lowest lows, but at the core of our relationship we have love, trust and respect. Some of us have been in our jobs for the same amount of time, or longer, and just like marriage we have experienced highs and lows. And considering that we spend as much time – or more – at work as with our partners, our jobs are our other loves. Sticking it out with my husband has shown me what love, compromise and appreciation really mean. When you conquer obstacles in work and personal relationships, you open yourself to greater understanding of the self and others, which can be deeply fulfilling. It might help you be successful and happy in ways you never imagined.

Most treasures in life take a lot of work to uncover. If you instinctively know that the pot of gold is on the other side of the rainbow, regardless of the typhoon you might currently be weathering, stay the course. The sun won’t always be hiding, and when it shines, use SPF 50 and carry on.

5 Ways to Nail a Zoom (Online) Interview

When it comes to interviewing, it’s true that practice can make perfect. But with the recent addition of web-based video platforms such as Zoom, job seekers are now finding themselves on the other side of a computer screen instead of a table – many for the first time. Whether you are a recent graduate or seasoned professional, here are five ways you can prepare for a successful online interview.

  1. Don’t let a bad connection create a bad first impression. Nothing ruins a good first impression like a frozen image, especially if you’re caught in an unflattering pose. Make sure to power up and check your internet connection at least ten minutes before your scheduled interview. If the connection is slow, keep your cell phone or landline nearby so that you can call in if needed. It also can’t hurt to position the camera or computer so that you look and feel your best.
  2. Dress to impress – at least from the top up. Your style says a lot about you, even if it’s just your top half. Aim for a creative professional look from the waist up that will capture your interviewers’ attention without making them dizzy. Try bold colors or smaller prints, and avoid stripes if possible. Accessories are a great way to showcase your personality, but be careful – noisy earrings and bracelets can distract your audience.
  3. Gesticulation is not articulation. Controlling hand movements during an in-person interview is important, but on screen it’s absolutely necessary. Depending on the internet connection, your hand or head movements can appear blurry or choppy to the interviewer(s), taking the attention away from what you’re saying – and the great experience you have to offer.
  4. Location. Location. Location. The three rules of real estate apply to interviewing on Zoom or any web video platform. Try to find a quiet space with a clutter-free backdrop. For example, if you’re interviewing in your room or office, take a look behind you and make sure the interviewer’s view is free of clutter and other distracting items.
  5. Smile! Interviews, whether on-line or in person, can be nerve wracking for everyone involved. Put yourself and your interviewers at ease by smiling from the very first moment that you’re connected. Though it may be harder to build a personal connection over the web, this simple yet effective non-verbal communication tool is enough to get the conversation off to a great start.

With these things in mind, you’ll be able to focus on demonstrating how great you are for the job – and how awesome you are with technology!

Professional Reflections in Transit

Professional Reflections in Transit

Trains are like mobile classrooms, or more appropriately, training sites for leadership. As a daily NJ Transit commuter, I often observe passengers and their behaviors (including my own), which sometimes mimic those of people in the workplace. Here are some leadership lessons I’ve learned through personal observation and reflection.

  1. Although in close proximity to one another, we tend to keep to ourselves. Only on a train would it be permissible for a stranger’s armpit to be one inch from my face. And in the workplace, we are placed in meetings and teams with groups of people we might never spend time with elsewhere. In both scenarios, we are placed in highly intimate situations with little personal exchange, yet we meet our goals. Lesson: I don’t need to be friends with people to meet my objectives. There’s a time and a place for friendship; NJ Transit or the workplace might not be it, and that’s ok.
  2. People are routinized. We stand on the same platform spot each day, enter the same train doors, choose the same seats if possible (window or aisle), and perform the same activities each day (read, listen to music, sleep). At work we develop similar rituals; we eat the same lunch with the same people at the same places, we run the same programs, or we complain about the same things. Lesson: When I do the same thing every day, I potentially miss opportunities to experience something new or get a fresh perspective, which could lead to the development of original ideas, hallmarks of great leaders.
  3. People often choose to do what is customary and not what is necessarily logical or right. Every day the train is packed. People flood the aisles of train cars while seated passengers occupy more than one seat. Instead of making room for new passengers, people stay where they are and avoid eye contact with those standing. We all pay to travel, why don’t we automatically make empty seats available to others? At work, we often perform our jobs the way we were taught regardless if it is the most practical or efficient way of doing it. When exposed to a different approach, we avoid exploring the alternative because it might be uncomfortable. Lesson: I need to be cognizant and amenable to doing what ought to be done instead of what is customary. It might improve results.
  4. People need, and often want, to be led. That man in the aisle seat of a three seater won’t offer up the empty seat next to him unless he’s asked, regardless if 40 people are standing in the aisles. In the workplace, we tend to behave the same way. Unless asked to do something, many times we won’t. Maybe both the worker and the passenger want the direction or encouragement to behave differently? Maybe the man on the train figured that if someone wanted to sit, he’d be asked to move. Lesson: Sometimes people just don’t know what to do, or they won’t do what they should/could unless asked. I can’t be afraid to ask for what I want or to take charge of a situation. It might be precisely what changes my world.
  5. I dropped my travel wallet on the train one day and the doors closed before I could get it. I had $300 worth of train passes in there. I was a mess. When I got to work and picked up the phone to call NJ Transit, I noticed a message. It was the man who picked up my wallet, calling me to say that he worked in NYC too and that he would be happy to meet me halfway to return it. Every now and then when I’ve had a bad week, I will get a call from my boss to stop at the café on my way into work; there will be a cup of coffee waiting for me. Lesson: Kindness and empathy go a long way. They simply make the world and the workplace better places to live and to lead.

Picture courtesy: David Parker