As an international student, career prospects were an important criteria for me to select a business school. During my research I found that a number of companies, in which I am interested, recruit international students at Smeal. Theses existing recruiting relationships are one of the reasons why I choose Smeal. My preparation for the internship search began even before I reached State College. When I was in my home country, the Smeal career services team helped me refine my resume and the process took a number of iterations to transform my resume into a polished one. Career services staff also helped me to start thinking about my post-MBA goals. During the MBA program orientation, there was so much focus on helping us understand ways to secure and ace an interview. Career services also conducted mock career fairs and interviews to simulate the actual scenarios. Once career services orientation ended, the Penn State Supply Chain Career Fair took place during the initial weeks of the program. All of the prior practice made me well prepared for the career fair. It was an opportunity to put into action what I learned in a couple of weeks. I secured several interviews during the career fair and it was a good learning experience for me. As I was pulled back into the fast moving MBA world, I attended a few more interviews but did not convert any of them into internship offers.
I understood that I needed more interview practice because the interview process here is different from how it is in my country. I practiced several mock interviews with the career services team, second year students and my classmates. Practice interviews helped me to identify and concentrate on areas which I needed to improve. The practice also gave me more confidence.
The concept of “company culture” was new to me. The companies were not only interested in determining whether a candidate had the required skill set but were also gauging whether the candidate would be a good fit for their corporate culture. After knowing this, I started researching companies to learn more about their culture. I talked with employees of the organizations to get their perspectives and talked with my seniors who interned with different companies to learn from their experiences. My research and networking helped me secure an internship. My seniors were very supportive in helping me. Their input and feedback helped a lot of students in my class perform better in interviews and more importantly, helped us to understand what companies look for in a candidate when it comes to the “fit factor.” The entire experience demonstrated to me the value of the collaborative culture at Smeal. The internship search taught me that it is important to remain patient and keep trying without giving up.
Srimaan Gurusamy, Class of 2017