If you are an international student, most likely, you plan to study hard so you can get good grades. I know because I was also an international student. Looking back, I realize I could have gotten more out of my education than just study hard. This blog offers ideas on how international students can get more out of school than just good grades.
Getting the most out of an international education
Getting an education is more than understanding textbooks and lectures. It’s also about connecting with others. Social skills are going to be just as important in your future career.
Build relationships with professors in your field
For example, I know someone who stays in touch with his professor, and ended up starting a business together. Most teachers in colleges are part-time faculty. They may have a daytime job in the field they are teaching. That means they already have connections in the profession you are entering. The more your professors know about you and your career interests, the more they can spot opportunities for you.
How do you build relationships with professors?
But how can professors get to know you in class? Some professors like interactive class. If this is the case, let your questions show your interest and your in-depth knowledge of the topic. Good teachers have an eye for spotting brilliance.
But what if the class is not interactive? Sometimes there is so much material to cover in a lecture that professors do not want Q&A to take up class time. If you like the way this professor thinks, and want to discuss certain topics further, ask to make an appointment. Teachers who take an interest in their students are eager to help them further their goals. In your conversation, you can ask them how to be successful in the profession you are interested in. Most teachers are more than happy to share their thoughts with you.
Keep in mind that not all professors are good candidates for building relationships. If you sense there is no interest or reluctance on their part, don’t make too much effort. If they are not interested, they are not interested. Just move on.
Cultivate relationships with classmates
Professors are not the only people to connect with. It’s also a good idea to cultivate relationships with your classmates.
I know people who stay in touch with their classmates over the years, and often end up referring business to one another. Or if they are looking for work opportunities, often they reach out to friends they made from school.
How do you cultivate relationships with classmates?
- You can start a study group with others who share your career interest. By doing this, you are building a professional network long before you start working.
- If you are in the same class, look for opportunities to collaborate on projects. That is, if that is the best person to partner with for that particular assignment.
- Do fun things together. It’s easier to build rapport when you are doing something fun. So play together. Social skills is every bit as important as academic knowledge. Some of the most successful people have excellent people skills.
These are just some ideas to help you start brainstorming. Getting an education, especially an education in another country, is much more about getting good grades. It’s about building connections. Both for friendships and for professional collaboration in the future.
If you find this blog helpful, you might also like this one on How do cultural beliefs affect career advancement.
And if you moved from your country with your children, here is a helpful article on How to help immigrant children make friends at school.
Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking. To schedule a session with her, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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