Some students come to the MIM program fully knowing what career path they want to follow and how the MIM program will help get them there. Other students come here with less clear ambitions, but through the program are able to find their direction.
Jackie Wang is a MIM alumnus who graduated in 2011, a young man full of enthusiasm, ambition, and new ideas. He now works for a compliance and safety testing company in Los Angeles, but was nice enough to sit down and share his experiences on a recent trip to Portland. Talking with Jackie, I get the sense that he was the kind of student who came to PSU knowing he wanted to work internationally, and that he wanted to broaden his horizons and skill set, but didn’t exactly know what career path to follow when he first joined the MIM program. One also gets the sense that he quickly learned to thrive in the program, and is now thoroughly enjoying the direction that he is pursuing.
Jackie always knew he wanted to study abroad. He came to PSU based on a personal recommendation, and was drawn to the MIM program specifically because of its focus on Asia-Pacific business.
When asked to comment on his impressions of the MIM program, he is ready with a quick response. “The program really benefited me, because it was something different than I had received in my previous education. I could really meet true professionals who have extensive experience working in different companies and who want to give back to the community. It’s very different than the education system in China.”
“I learned a lot from this program, because I got to meet professors like Brian McCarthy and Melanie Billings-Yun. I feel very lucky, especially for Melanie. She has no reason to teach at PSU, she can teach anywhere. But you know, she’s from here, and she wants to give back to the community.”
Of Melanie Billings-Yun’s International Business Negotiations class, Jackie mentions that this course helped change the way that he approaches communicating with others, and influenced other aspects of his life than just business. It even provided him with skills that he used to negotiate his salary at his job. “I learned to try to think from the other side. Instead of having this battle, and arguing about what you want or what I want, try to find some common interest, work together, to benefit both sides.”
These would seem to be skills that Jackie now uses on a regular basis in his current job, where he functions as a liaison between his company’s office in China, and their American clients, who are mostly companies that make automotive parts and who want to sell their parts overseas. “Let’s say they have a new product they’re working on and they want to launch it in the future. These products need to comply with certain standards, to make sure that first, it’s safe to use, that it doesn’t set itself on fire, and in the case of electronics, that it doesn’t interfere with other electronic devices.” This compliance process can require time, patience, and a lot of negotiating between parties in both countries, which is where the people skills and cultural sensitivities Jackie developed in the MIM program become important.
Jackie recognizes that there are challenges facing international students who want to work in the U.S., but he sounds a note of encouragement for those willing to try. “I understand that for business, and especially for marketing positions, it’s less likely that companies will sponsor you. My advice would be to not be afraid of the restraints that you have as international students. Find your own niche. Find what you can contribute to a certain field you are interested in, and focus on that. Emphasize the strengths that you have, and that other people don’t. It’s difficult to find work in the U.S. as an international student, but it’s not impossible.”
Networking is crucial, both during and after the MIM program, says Jackie. He knows that international students especially can feel awkward when attending networking events, since they may not know how to start a conversation with strangers, or may be unfamiliar with other customs, but he encourages MIM students to get out and network as much as possible. “Networking might be hard at first, but keep at it. Make smart mistakes. Make a mistake once, but don’t make the same mistake again. Learn from your experiences.” Having a presence on social media is also important, he says. “LinkedIn has become more and more important for recruiters looking for potential candidates, so a LinkedIn profile is something that as a business professional….is a must have.”
As for his own future plans, Jackie says he is helping his company to expand their own social media presence, and is putting into practice some of the marketing skills he learned from the MIM program. He even has ideas for businesses of his own someday, but knows that for now he has plenty of room to continue to grow where he is.
Josh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program. After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou. Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.