Firsthand experience is often lauded as the best teacher for college students who would like to discover their career paths and transition into the professional world. In the US, enrolled Indonesian students can obtain such experience from internships. However, even internships are not available to every students since selective employers tend to prefer seeing working experiences on applicants’ resumes.
So, is this a dead-end for most students? No, it shouldn’t be. This is because students can – if they’re unable to access that experience themselves – learn from other individuals, such as professionals in the US who are willing to share their professional experiences through a networking or mentorship program. Other than Indonesia Menggobal’s annual mentorship program, Garuda Bisa, based in the US, is a professional networking platform in which students can be paired up professionals in a six-week mentorship program.
So what are the more concrete reasons for forging meaningful professional connections?
I. Mentorship as Platform for Sharing, Learning, and Empowering
To start off this topic, I’d like to quote a saying from Keith Ferrazzi (founder of an American consulting firm focused on behavioural sciences):
The currency of real networking is not greed, but generosity.
When I was in the stage of switching job from my first employer to the second, I was privileged enough to be referred and recommended by few of my Indonesian friends. They were very generous to share their advices with me, which left a lasting impression on me. I am a firm believer that my circle of Indonesian friends had facilitated me – and indeed, empowered me – to be a candidate who was more ready to face interviews, and whatever else that may come. Now, I am in the same boat as those friends of mine. As an Indonesian professional working in the US, I could advise students who are eager to work here. As I witnessed firsthand that job-seeking process is never as easy and straightforward, I am passionate about assisting Indonesian students to be a fresh graduate who are ready to be hired by US companies.
Mentorship platforms where Indonesian professionals and students can connect will provide insights that can guide students who are transitioning from college to the professional world. I found that mentorship programs are proven to be an asset for students, as they may learn from their mentors’ successes and failures.
While you can always derive knowledge from textbooks, you can never directly interact with it to solicit and receive response. It is simply a one-way flow of information, unlike when you see and talk to people. This gave me another perspective on the word “sharing,” which was introduced earlier. Sharing means learning. Not only we learn to develop our communication skills, but we also learn how to listen to others and absorb their wisdom. It is true how you can sometimes learn more through active listening than you can by talking. More than anything, sharing means empowering one another. I will always remember how during my struggle to secure a job here in the US, I talked to many people who patiently teach me key strategies in landing my dream job. I had many confusions during this phase. Do I need to go to a staffing agency? Do I have to aim at only Fortune 500 companies? How about a two-page resume with lengthy-sentences? How about “making up” resume with “white lie”? I’ve found that these questions are very common for Indonesian students and a targeted and effective mentorship program can deliver tangible results.
II. The Three C’s: Connect, Communicate & Collaborate
As you are perhaps already aware of (with networking seminars or professional gatherings that are circulating on social media), business networking has become more and more popular. Both professionals and students can surely profited from this connection. Students and professionals alike should not underestimate them merits from this network platform. Networking between the mentor and the mentees is an ongoing and hopefully a lasting activity, even if the outcome is not immediate. For instance, one of my mentees has gotten a job with a reputable company within the oil industry. You may ask, as a mentor, what do I get from his success? Probably nothing! But, let’s say, if I am planning to switch my job (currently I am working in software company) to oil industry, will I call him to find out career opportunity in his current company? Probably I will! This is where connecting, communication, and collaborating could play a pivotal role in the professional and personal development of students and those who are already working.
Now, as you embark on your professional adventure in the US, remember: Anda Pasti Bisa!
Content edited by Artricia Rasyid
Photo Credit: Author’s Collection and news.euspert.com