non stem jobs in usa opportunities

Why Is It So Damn Difficult for Non-STEM, Non-IT Students in the USA to Find a Job?

Raghu Career 6 Comments

Let’s talk about the State of Job Market in the U.S.A. and chances of finding a Full-Time Job in the USA.

By, Full-Time, I’m referring to Direct Hire positions, not via Desi Consultants with fake resume (and I’m 101% against using any fake profiles, resume and proxy interviews).

I have written about the Desi Consultants and their practices extensively. The following comment was written by a reader as a response to this article – Desi Consultants and Their Dirty Business Model.

I’m a recent MBA graduate (May’17). I’ve been looking for full-time jobs and even got responses from a few companies. But literally, none of them were willing to sponsor H1B Visa. Trump effect? 99% of non-IT entry level employees do not get sponsorship. Also, the pay is extremely low. Since I’m not a STEM student, I basically have just 1 chance for H1b. Recently few Desi consultancies contacted me. I was not sure about them earlier but now I’m at a point where I think it will be quite advantageous for me if I just join one. At least H1b sponsorship is assured and the kind of pay package I’ll receive would be far better than what I’ll get on my own.

Your negative rant about these unethical consultancies is totally legit and justified. Not denying that. BUT it is so damn difficult for non-STEM Non-IT students in the US! And since I only have one chance to apply for H1B Visa, I don’t know what are the odds of it getting picked. So I know for sure that I at least have one year to work in the US. Why not make use of consultancies and earn as much as I can?

Let me ask you this, “Just because it’s free money, would you rob a bank?”

Job Search is a Challenge even for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents.  For International students, there is an extra layer of challenge in terms of future visa sponsorship requirements.

Even for Computer Science graduates, it’s not easy to get a job interview and a Full-Time job offer. Listen to this podcast for more details –  Why Non-CS Graduates Struggle to Find Job in the USA.

Here’s a typical day of a recent graduate from Masters in Computer Science.

As you know, at end of the day, it’s really hard to stay motivated to keep continuing with the job search when you are not hearing back from the employers.

no response from employers job applied opt

Here are my two cents about finding a job as an International Students:

Complaints are typically from students graduating from average to below average universities. When I talk to students from schools where Average GRE required to get in are 315 are above, I hear positive outlook about the job market and search process.

Here’s a paraphrased quote from one such student:

“Here in our school, most of my seniors have multiple offers for Entry Level positions in Computer Science with starting package of $80,000”

So, what differentiates students studying who are struggling to find a job vs. those who have a positive outlook and multiple offers before graduation?

Let’s dig deeper. I think following factors play a huge role when it comes to job search

  1. Quality of your Degree
  2. Your Environment
  3. Your Efforts to Self-Improve

Students are at an inherent disadvantage if and when you are studying in an environment that’s feeding negative energy.

What Does a College Really Offer?

Take a pause here for a moment and answer the following question: What do you actually gain from attending a college?

Colleges essentially teach you how to learn.  That’s it.

Let’s assume that you are attending Tier 4 (Ranked 76 to 100) and you have taken 3 courses this semester.

You did well in your exams and you got “A” in all 3 courses. Now, you have accomplished something. You have gained knowledge. You have acquired skills on specific subjects from the courses you took.

Here’s the underlying message. You have essentially learned, how to learn a new skill and complete a task using the new skill you just acquired.

Not clear?

I’m from computer science background and I will give an example from my field.

I took 3 courses and all three courses had two programming assignment in per semester. All six projects have to be implemented in a different programming language. By end of the semester, I have learned six new programming languages. Using the new languages, I have successfully completed the projects (tasks).

So, essentially, I learned how to learn a new skill and utilize the newly acquired skill to solve a problem.

College taught me how to learn in a forced setting. Else, I will not get a good grade. If my GPA falls below 3.0, as F1 Visa student, I will be put on Academic Probation and if I can’t boost your GPA, I will be kicked out of the college and the country.

Here’s the deal. Just because I learned a new language to solve one particular problem doesn’t make me an expert in that programming language. I problem spent about 5 to 20 hours with that language, learning just enough to solve the problem at the hand. But,  you know how to learn a new language in a span of a couple of weeks to solve a specific programming assignment.

You are forced to learn a new skill in a controlled settings. That is what college offers. And the same logic applies to your field.

The Quality of Your Degree

By the Quality of Degree, I’m directly referring to the skill level you are likely to acquire.

Please allow me to use an example of water, pipes, and plumbing to explain the quality of skills you are can acquire.

Level 1: You are given a textbook to learn how water flows from elsewhere to your home for the day to day usage.

Level 2: You are given the same text book, but you have a project to test the pipes (open and close) to see the flow of water, inside the home to various rooms. You did something practical. You went beyond reading about pipes. You can connect a hose to water the plants, etc.

Level 3: Let’s get more practical. Why don’t we fix a broken pipe at home with some basic plumbing tools? You will know about washers, types of pipe, water pressure, kinds of pipes to buy, a field trip to hardware store and you actually go about repairing a broken pipe. Now, you have a real skill that solves a specific problem.

Level 4: Let’s expand that to lay a pipe in a new construction, dig a hole on the ground before constructions begin, run a pipe from city’s water supply line to external water meter (and learn how water meter works). Now, it’s the same concepts from Level 1, but you are acquiring more practical skills.

Level 5: Now, in this college, the Professor is a renowned Plumbing Expert. He has invented a new way of harvesting water and connecting them to home without loss of water. He offers class projects where you do the work from the rainwater harvesting and laying the pipe lines to the nearby water tank, then to individual homes. He figured out a way to teach them in a semester long project.

As you can see, students, attending different college for the same degree can graduate with the varying level of skills sets.

There’s a job opening for a Plumber. Guess who is likely to get the job?

At Level 5, I mentioned “Renowned Plumbing Expert”. As the quality of schools goes up, more renowned scholars will in the Faculty, they are doing cutting-edge research and offering courses. Which in turn, improves the quality of skills and level of difficulty of the projects. Which in turn improves your learning capability.

That’s’ the reality of attending better universities. Here’s another view about the same idea: Study: Top vs Low Ranked Universities

Your Friends Circle and Environment

Your environment includes your friend’s circle you choose to associate with. This starts with your roommates. The other group of friends who you hang out with and how are you influenced by their actions.

The quality of life and type of life you are going to lead in the USA depends on your friend’s circle.

When there is a major life event, people form new habits, spending patterns change, learning habits change and everything else in your life for that matter.

..however, some brief periods in a person’s life when old routines fall apart and buying habits are suddenly in flux. One of those moments — the moment, really — is right around the birth of a child, when parents are exhausted and overwhelmed and their shopping patterns and brand loyalties are up for grabs…. continue reading here – How Companies Know Your Secretes

After you have landed in the USA, you are at Square ZERO. You are starting with a blank slate. How you shape your life and career largely depends on the friends you will be associated with during initial few months after landing in the USA for lifestyle habits.

Then you have few years (until you graduate) that shapes your Career, Job Search and Daily Routines.

How you are going to shape your career and future self largely depends on the people you choose to associate with.

If your new roommates and seniors, take you for shopping at Walmart, then you are likely to go shopping there for years to come. Then comes Bank Account and so on. Once you settle down, you will start to realize that your life is largely influenced by people around you and when you are in this state of learning in a new environment, confusion, trying to establish a new identity, you are susceptible to external influence (a lot).

Same influence plays a major role in shaping your job search abilities. If you are surrounded by people who care less to find a full-time job and are going to take the “Desi Consulting” route, you are likely to do the same.

You need a frame of reference to learn about

  • how to build your personal brand
  • how to network
  • create daily routines
  • create daily rituals

Your Self-Improvement Effort

Your skill level is just going to be higher if you are taking courses from professors who are well respected and pioneer in their field. But, is that enough to get a job?

If your goal is to graduate with the minimal effort with easy courses, don’t complain that you can’t find a job.

Students from lower quality schools are at inherent risk of not able to outperform someone who applied for the same job but from better quality schools. Just by comparing apple to apple, you are less likely to succeed in a job interview.

Does that mean, you can never find a full-time job? No, you can still find a full-time job. The effort required is going to be humongous.

Here’s where Self-Improvement comes into play.

  • What are you doing beyond what is taught in your courses and projects?
  • Are you completing projects and assignment for the sake of grades?
  • Is your effort 100% or 110%?
  • Are you constantly burning the midnight lamp for every project and assignments?
  • Are you excited to start the project the day it was assigned or waiting until last minute?
  • How are you investing in your self-improvement?
  • Are you spending dedicated time improving your job search abilities?
  • Did you even know you are at the risk of losing out to competition just for being at lower quality school?
  • After you learn a new skill, would you consider yourself to top 10% in the field in the world?
  • Are you pushing your knowledge limits?

Most students in the Career Lab complain about not getting interview calls. You saw an example above via email. But, they realize few days after going through the 30 Days Job Search Challenge about the amount of work required to learn the ability to search for jobs (aka Job Search Skills) requires lot more effort.

People who can sustain the pressure and willing to go the extra mile to learn the job search, investing in self-improvement don’t have a problem finding a full-time job.

When students realize the amount of effort required to find a job exceeds the effort required to get “A” grades, some chicken out with the most common excuse – Lack of Time. There’s always enough time to do things you really wanted to do.

If you are Non-IT, Entry level student, your odds are stacked against you. That is the reality. 

Your First Day in the U.S. is the first day of your job search.

Don’t expect to find a job if you start looking for jobs 2 to 3 months before graduation.

Internships are like wedding rehearsal dinner for full-time job search.

If you haven’t invested quality time in applying for internships, your learning curve would be a lot steeper when it comes to applying for Full-Time Job.

Should you take the desi consultants route?

 

If you are willing to give up your personal ethics for the sake of money and a job, what else are you willing to do in your life? What is the purpose of getting an MBA?

When you look from 30,000 ft, it may look difficult. But, solving the job search puzzle can be done with baby steps and focused effort. If you know how to travel halfway around the world to live, study in a foreign country, find a job is just another piece of the puzzle. Don’t give-up just yet.

Comments

  1. Raghu,

    An Excellent article truly its a eye opener to the students with different mind perspective, keep coming more articles like these

  2. I wish I would have read this article before coming to United States. Now I realize the mistakes that I have made. Learnt a good lesson from this article. Its not too late one idea can change your life. What ever has happened just leave it. It may take some time but consistent efforts will always lead you towards your dream.

    1. Author

      Barath, Glad you learned something useful from this. Good luck with your career.

  3. I totally agree with you. But in the end, when everything is against you, you have no option than “Desi consult”. Take for example, I am pursuing in health care sector(not doctor/ Nurse). I tried to search for jobs as you mentioned from day1. In fact, I got internship in one of non profit. But, again ” we do not sponsor H1B. What I suppose to do? I am about to graduate and to the point, I do not have single job offer.

    I followed all of three steps!!
    I have my 110%
    I called/ talked to each and every possible source.
    I did a lot of community work ( as part of experience )

    And there is no sure source to look for jobs, specially in Allied health care.

    (NO offense, just expressing my thought)

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing.

      While I’m inclined to say that if you are coming to study in the USA in fields like Health Care, be prepared to not find a job. But, the experience one would have as a study abroad student in USA is so valuable that, having study abroad experience is so much better even if you have to go back to your country. This the exact reason why I’m highlighting the importance of not taking short cuts.

      Refer to http://www.happyschools.com/faqs-f1-visa-opt-jobs/

      See what else you could have done/doing to help with your job search.

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