Spending time abroad in college can be one of the most incredible, self-defining moments in life. For a junior business major, however, it can also be one of the most stressful times as you try to balance enjoying yourself and participating in recruiting activities for a summer internship.
There are many challenges to participating in the recruiting process while abroad, but thankfully I was able to survive the process and have the opportunity to intern at Dell this summer.
My career advisors told me it would be a little tricky to interact with recruiters while abroad, and after spending my entire junior year in Denmark and Hong Kong I can firmly say that they were not wrong – at all. The process was exhausting to say the least. Here are three things I learned that can make interviewing while abroad a little easier.
Remote interviews can be challenging.
While some companies are willing to conduct interviews via Skype or FaceTime, others require you to interview in-person during the recruiting process. The best way to deal with this challenge is to talk to as many people as you can within the company, even if they can’t (or won’t) interview you remotely. Use this time to expose yourself to the company in case you are interested in interviewing with the company when recruiting season for full-time positions comes around. If you’re not able to interview for an internship, make a good impression that helps pave the way for future intern hopefuls studying abroad.
Not surprisingly, Dell was all for using technology to interview candidates abroad. The application was online, communication was through email and all of my interviews were over the phone. Dell was the easiest and most accommodating while I was abroad
Time differences can be very inconvenient.
In case you didn’t know, Hong Kong is a full 12 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast. This might seem convenient because it’s very easy to convert the time, but then you start scheduling interviews for between midnight and 2 a.m. and realize just how inconvenient it can actually be. I definitely had more than one awkward encounter with my roommate coming back from a night out to find me sitting at my desk in a full suit waiting anxiously.
Be prepared and schedule your interviews strategically. If you have an interview at night, it is totally okay to take a nap in the afternoon. I would also advise against the “load-up-on-caffeine-at-11 p.m.” method. I witnessed some very intense crash-and-burns that you do NOT want to experience.
Overall, just be honest with your interviewers about the time difference. Every interview I had with Dell started with the interviewer sympathizing with me for staying up so late and started the interview off on a much lighter tone. It shows your dedication and commitment to the job, which is always a plus.
You have half the chance to show them you are twice as good.
Even if a company is flexible enough to accommodate your remote location and understand the difficulties that come with being on a different time schedule, the fact of the matter is you are not physically there while other applicants are. Because of this, you have to use every resource and interaction to showcase why you are the best possible choice.
Recruiting is always about more than just the interview, but this is even more important when you are abroad. It starts with the first interaction you have with the company – whether it’s with a recruiter, alumni or family friend. From that first impression all the way through to each and every thank you email sent – and yes, a thank you email is DEFINITELY necessary – the skills, demeanor and personal brand you showcase is all they will see. You need to make every single interaction count.
What made my recruiting experience with Dell so positive were the interactions I had with every person I talked to. Finding connections with alumni from UNC was immensely helpful in figuring out how to best present myself with what Dell was looking for. My recruiter, Lauren, was very understanding and open to having multiple calls to discuss how to better improve my interviewing before the next round. Every one of those conversations gave me the chance to further paint the picture of who I am, and it is so fun to now see those same people around the office and finally give them a face to put with the name.
Bottom line: recruiting is tough, no matter what.
Add to that the challenges that come with being abroad and you have an even larger mountain to climb. You can prepare the best you can and hope for the best, but it all comes down to finding the right company. I found that in Dell and learned a ton along the way. I’m excited to see what the rest of the summer holds.
By Andrew Stowe (BSBA ’16)
This post has been adapted and republished with permission from the author. View the original post here.