FOR IMMIGRANTS: Pursuing Careers and Crafting the Edge for People in a New Environment.
By Shreshthi Mehta
April 21, 2020.
I was born and raised in Pune. For a major portion of my life, I had lived in India and had been a part of one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. I was fortunate to attend some of the best schools and universities in my home country. In spite of the recession in 2008, I was able to secure a job as a new graduate and work as an HR manager.
I got married in 2012 and came to the USA thereafter. With my knowledge and education, it had been fairly easy for me to find a job in India. I was excited to pursue the American dream and have a fulfilling career. But, when I was searching for jobs in Boston, it was starting to look like a nightmare. I interviewed with many companies for positions in HR. When I sought feedback, they said that I had the skills to do the job but did not have an understanding of the culture or business principles in America. It was important for an HR person to know that so they could fit in.
What could I do to fit in? And what could I do to understand the culture in America?
There were several books and materials that I had reviewed. None were able to replicate the real-world experience.
I had many Indian friends who had come to the USA as students. University had exposed them to the American lifestyle. It was helpful while acclimating to the new environment. As a double graduate, I was initially reluctant to enroll in school again. Nevertheless, I got admitted to the master in leadership program at Northeastern University (NEU). While I was attending class or completing assignments, I saw that there was a vast difference in the teaching methodologies of India and the USA. In India, there was a lot of emphasis on remembering and retaining information. At NEU, we had open book exams and it was necessary for students to be able to apply their learnings.
Dr. Julia Ivy was hosting a “Make Your Case” consulting case writing competition at NEU. I signed up for it as the workshop would teach me how course concepts were applied in real-world scenarios. To write cases, I networked and met with several alumni and other business persons. The interviews helped me understand the organizational dilemma and dwell deeper into the social and economic structures of America. It was a classic killing two birds with one stone situation! I was able to write good assignments and partner with professionals to understand the business practices in the USA.
What are some advantages of writing cases using the Be-Edge methodology? What can immigrants gain from it?
- Apply learning to a real-world scenario
The study format, exam structure, and assignments in the USA are very different from many countries. There is a lot of focus on exploring and applying course concepts in a real-world setting. Many international students find it challenging to adapt to the new teaching methodologies. At the same time, while screening candidates, many organizations look for individuals that are experienced in managing difficult situations. It is difficult for new graduates to portray that experience as they have limited work experience. It is even more difficult for immigrants to compete in a new job market as they have limited exposure to a foreign country.
By writing cases about American organizations, international students are able to showcase a dilemma and apply their learning to solve the problem. It shows their knowledge of course concepts. By analyzing the case, students can portray an understanding of the business culture and efforts taken to develop emotional intelligence.
Networking is essential while looking for jobs. Research shows that 70-80% of the jobs are filled through networking. This means that a huge majority of jobs are never even listed! Research also shows that getting a referral for a job from someone working there increases the chances of getting that job. Again, because immigrants and international students have limited exposure to a foreign country, they need to build their own referral network. How does one do that without any work experience?
The answer lies in writing cases using the BE-EDGE methodology. Individuals can create a list of companies that they would like to intern with or work for. Since it is a company of interest, the individual should be updated with the current situation and challenges affecting the organization. This data can be used to write effective cases using secondary information. One can also network via LinkedIn, Facebook, and other platforms to connect with professionals working in the company of interest. These connections can be used to write cases using primary information or as referrals while applying for jobs. Writing cases by using either primary or secondary information shows the interest of the individual in developing a relationship with the company. It gives the individual an edge over other candidates.
My own experience can serve as proof. I have authored several cases using this method. “BREWERKZ: Brewing What Works Best” is one of those cases. Each case has been like a journey for me that helped me hone my skills in problem-solving and sharpen my edge as a professional. It helped me discover new competencies while networking with business leaders. I was able to showcase my skills as a strategic thinker and advance in my profession as a human resource manager. By publishing papers and winning awards at national and international events, I have developed my credibility globally.
- Acclimating to a new culture
The USA has been the top host of international students. The number of international students vising the USA was 1.09 million in 2018. In absolute numbers, the United States has a larger immigrant population than any other country, with 47 million immigrants as of 2015. This represents 14.4% of the U.S. population.
A lot of these immigrants are looking to find a stable job in America. The immigrants bring in new ideas from their home country that give them a competitive advantage in the new country. But, the lack of knowledge of the business processes in the foreign country can be a severe disadvantage. Hence, in spite of possessing superior skills, several immigrants are not able to be financially stable.
Case writing using the BE-EDGE methodology teaches an individual to analyze the market and determine what is required to be successful. Individuals can make changes to their personality or personal strategy to acclimate to the new market.
About the author:
Shreshthi Mehta is an HR professional and an accomplished case writer.
She has written and published several cases in the areas of HR, marketing, entrepreneurship, and strategy. By writing cases about different businesses, Shreshthi has learned the business practices in different cultures. She has used this experience to connect with peers and like-minded professionals in the industry.
Shreshthi has collaborated with several businesspersons and academicians in writing effective case studies. She has consulted with many companies and written a case from the experience. Do you know of an organization or a business leader whose story deserves to be told? Shreshthi is always looking for individuals whose work can inspire others. It could be a government organization, a for-profit business, a non-profit company, or others. Please contact Shreshthi via email Shreshthi.firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to partner with her.