Global Mingle Party | Building an adventure story for international students
How to build a professional story to engage employers and get hired
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How to Tell A Professional Story to Employers

You are going to meet a lot of people in your job search. And for each person, you need to be able to talk about what you’re professional interests are and what you are curious about. Every job seeker needs a story. Your professional story helps employers get to know you. They want to know who you are, what you’re studying, and why you are interested in their company. A good professional story can help you stand out from other candidates.
As a international student, you have the all the parts of a good story. You’re from a foreign country. You have a different experience than most American candidates. You’re trying something new. You’re on an adventure!
You need an adventure story.
At interviews and career fairs, employers will say “Tell me about yourself.” Instead of just saying “I’m a student at (name) university” and waiting for a response, you have the ability to tell your adventure story and stand out to an employer. This story, often called an elevator pitch, tells the listener about your interests and career goals. There are several ways to structure a story but start with this framework: before, during, and future of your experience in the US. To help you build your adventure story for future employers, reflect on the answers to these questions:
  • Why did you choose to study at your university or college? (before)
  • What are you learning during your time at school? (during)
  • What subjects or ideas are you curious about? (during)
  • What do you do for fun outside of class? (during)
  • What type of work would you like to do after you graduate? (future)
Now build your adventure story using the answers Here’s an example:
“I’m currently a student at the University of Michigan. I moved to Iowa from Shanghai two years ago to study engineering at the University of Michigan. Since I’ve arrived I’ve focused on my industrial engineering classes but I’m really enjoying classes about European history because I find people fascinating. I’m also the club president of our robotics club. After college, I hope to work in a company where I can develop new wearables for technology companies. Your company interests me because you are known as a leader in wearables and I wan to work on forward-thinking teams.”
This story tells a bit about your past, current and future in under a minute. You can also include hobbies to show that you’re an interesting person (especially if the person you are talking to shares the same hobby). The tone should be conversational and easy going.
After you write your story, practice it so you don’t sound like your reading or a robot. Record yourself on your phone saying it. Note the words that are hard to pronounce and keep practicing them. When it sounds smooth, practice by telling it to friends or people in your career services office. Role play by asking them to say “Tell me about yourself.”
Once you can tell a story about yourself, you can start talking to people about your job search interests and goals. This is the first step to networking.
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