International alumni return to share lessons learned

International Alumni Night at UNC Kenan-FlaglerInternational alumni came back to campus to share their experiences – pursuing different industries, career switches and challenges overcome to land jobs in the U.S. – with students at International Alumni Night on Dec. 3, 2018.

The International Business Association and several MBA career clubs hosted the event. “We created this event to help international students gain confidence and to empower them to pursue their dreams,” says Delphis Vera (MBA ’19), a student organizer.

Academic and social activities contributed to the recruiting success of Ravi Maniar (MBA ’16), university relations manager at Align Technology. Relationships he formed with faculty and connections he made while being an engaged student leader – he was elected MBA Student Association president – led to his internship and his current employment.

“As international students, you have more to offer, not less to offer,” Maniar said in his keynote address.

A panel of seven MBA alumni provided valuable lessons. Professor Tim Flood moderated the discussion with Adhi Poddar (’18), investment banking associate at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Rodrigo Aquino (’16), case team leader at Bain & Company; Tarang Agarwal (’16), product manager at Oracle Bronto; Nishanth Kadiyala (’16), product marketing manager at Progress; Shravan Prasad (’17), assistant marketing manager at Ecolab; and Jose Garakis (’17), associate manager-strategy at AICPA.

Their insights included:

  • Pace yourself. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.
  • Your study group will give you great insight into the American work culture. Network with your classmates and tap into second-year students’ experiences.
  • Know that UNC Kenan-Flagler is preparing you well.
  • Be flexible and open to opportunities. You still can be successful even if things don’t work out the way you had thought they would.
  • When you start your job, reach out to alumni in your city to help you navigate the culture.
  • Give back to the community.

Alumni enthusiastically accepted the invitation to speak with students. “I’m so happy to make it happen,” said Aquino, who traveled from Austin. “It’ll be a pleasure to be there and give back.”

He spoke about the value of students reaching out to alumni. “Be prepared and professional, of course, but talk to me like a Tar Heel, like a member of this big family,” he said.

Alumni unable to make the trip to Chapel Hill also offered their support.

“Give my contact information to any international student who would want to reach out to me in search of guidance,” Miguel Garcia-Ochoa of Cigna (’16) said to the event organizers. “I’ve been in every step of the process and might be beneficial to some of them. For example, I’ve started with a basic F1 student visa for my MBA. I applied to H-1B after completing my MBA credits. After two years with an H-1B, I’ve applied and received permanent residence.”

“I was tremendously excited to see old friends giving back at the School,” said Flood. “The insights they offered, from tactical to more existential, were amazing. But what brought everything full circle was when Shravan Prasad quoted a conversation he’d had during his admissions interview: ‘Use your time in the MBA to focus on the things you can do to make yourself better.’”