I’ll never forget the first time I met Sonic in this program. He came up to me and said, “Hey, I’m Sonic, like the hedgehog!”—a reference to the iconic video game character. This exchange sums up Sonic’s personality: extremely outgoing and clever. He moved from Taiwan to the United States at the age of 12 and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating with majors in Finance, Real Estate, and Risk Management. With an interest in international business, Sonic decided to continue his studies with UVA’s M.S. in Global Commerce Program because of the University’s “prestige and reputation for outstanding career resources.”
Sonic has already accepted an offer with Greystar in Charleston, S.C., as an Investment Analyst in the company’s portfolio management division. As an international student going through the recruiting process in the United States, Sonic’s experience included additional steps. When I asked him about how the sponsorship process works, he responded, “Normally firms hire international students under Optional Practical Training (OPT) status for the first year, for which a visa isn’t required, and then transition to sponsorship status.” Sonic said that Commerce Career Services was incredibly helpful in providing him the resources to successfully find a job in the States. Guest speakers from top firms of various industries, technical workshops, and Denise Egan, Assistant Dean for Commerce Career Services and career adviser for the M.S. in Global Commerce Program, were especially influential in helping Sonic seek out the right jobs and prepare for interviews. He noted that for international students, Commerce Career Services works closely with the International Studies Office to help students navigate the process.
I asked Sonic if he had any advice for future international students going through the recruitment process, to which he responded: “Be relentless. Never let any rejections phase you, as those rejections often don’t have anything to do with your qualifications, but rather the company’s policy toward hiring international students. It’s also important to understand the company’s culture and the type of personality the company is looking for, which is what makes networking ahead of time valuable. Ultimately, a company is most likely going to hire you because they like who you are, and not necessarily because of what you can contribute right away in an entry-level position.”