Growing up in a third world country where everyone aspires to work abroad, I saw the United States of America through a rose-colored glasses. I daydream about chasing the American dream and truly making it. I thought I knew everything I needed to know from watching all the mainstream movies and TV series.
Here are the 5 things I wish I knew sooner:
1. Be True To Yourself
It sounds so cliche, I know. Moving to a different country could be really overwhelming, you have this sense to reinvent yourself and to be better in order to fit in. While change is good for adapting, I wish I knew that trying to be like everyone, faking an accent, trying to be ‘cool’, and being a doormat to rude people are self-sabotage. Pretending to be another person is a lot of work and is limiting. Just focus on what you will bring to the table, not on how to be like everyone else.
Also, be proud of your ethnicity and culture.
2. Don’t just ‘get a job’
Most people who’ve been abroad longer will probably tell you to ‘just get a job’ since you have no work experience in the US or because you are an immigrant. Contrary to most people think, most companies now really give equal opportunities to everyone qualified. A college graduate, even with little to no work experience could be qualified for an internship like everyone else. Read tips from themuse.com to make your resume and cover letter stand out. It’s all about guts, persistence, and skills.
On the other hand, don’t snob other jobs either. Retail jobs could help you get comfortable speaking a different language and there are transferable skills you could learn from it. Find a job that could help you improve you, but don’t fret about starting small.
Going to networking events and walking in a room full of unfamiliar faces are just scary at first. After forcing yourself make that small talk, it will eventually just come off naturally. Networking lets you meet new people that could either be your new friend, your new employer, your colleague, and more. It’s a smart risk to take. Meeting actual people in events are far more beneficial to you than meeting people through your phone app.
4. Make better spending habits
Working in America is a lot of work and oftentimes you feel like spending most of your pay to luxury items as a reward. This Neilsen study that shows that Asian-Americans outspend other US households isn’t quite a shock, but you have to learn from it. As an immigrant, you should keep track of your money. You need more savings than that luxury bag, trust me.
5. Stay tough
There are really hard times where you’d want to go back home and be in your old friends’ arms but you have to remember why you are here. You’ll meet a lot of people who’d come off as mean or unconsciously racist but you have to act with class and just prove them wrong. There are people of your own race who will discourage you for chasing your dreams because they weren’t able to. The bottom line is eyes on the prize. Done will always be better than any comebacks.
At the end of the day, a lot of people wants to be in your shoes. Remember that you are here instead- that alone should be enough reason to take bold steps and risk. Take your chances.