How I started to work in the USA legally
An impossibility is a concept in our mind, which mostly reflected from our disadvantages, often, not fully utilizing our advantages. Usually, we know our abilities better than to understand the situations surrounding us. So we have to ask, is the impossibility a full reflection of the reality facing us?
There are many ways to achieve our goal, often an impossibility reflecting one of the direct routes to achieve our goal not possible. If indeed it exists, which means one way not likely, can we reach our goal by other means — change an impossibility to an opportunity of different ways to achieve our goal?
The following are the stories about my first jobs hunting in the USA — about how I challenged impossibilities to make them become opportunities.
Everything starts hard in the beginning, so did my first job hunting in the USA
Almost summer time, I was busy looking for a job. The big problem for me was my English. I spoke English not well, hardly communicated in English fluently. I had a few job interviews, but no one was successful.
Later on a newspaper, I found a job post related to Visual Basic Language. It said they would use “cutting edge technology.” At that time I didn’t even know what the meaning of “cutting edge technology “ in English was… It would be the last interview I had, which meant it would be my last hope.
I had two Chinese roommates, the same as me, all international students in the same school, also all of us switched our majors to computer-related majors because Information Technology was very hot at that time — I was a Computer Science major, and other two were Computer Engineering majors.
Like many other international students, we were hoping that we could stay in the USA after graduating. So we not just studied in school, but also we were trying to learn some new technologies in our free time, which could help us to find a job easier after our graduation.
One roommate was a Ph.D. candidate, who came to the USA before me and had many work experiences. He advised me to learn Visual Basic language, and said, as long as I knew Visual Basic I would be able to find a job after graduated. So I was learning Visual Basic by myself if I had time.
As an international student, I was not allowed to work outside the campus, but luckily our school had a co-op program that allowed an international student to work outside to gain work experiences in the summertime.
Since we all knew that work experiences were critical for students to look for a job after they graduated from their schools, especially for an international student, I was desperately looking for a job at the moment.
The interview was on Friday, and next Monday would be the last date to register the school co-op program, which meant that it would be my last chance to get a job.
The company was in Miami, and I drove over one hour to this company. The project manager met me and gave me a paper test. After I finished it, the manager told me he would call me back, which meant he rejected me.
Sitting inside my car outside the office building, really I wanted to cry. It was so hard for me to live in the USA. But I couldn’t give up, walk away just like this with empty hands. I had to do my best, trying to get every chance I could get. I thought for a while, letting my emotions cool down.
I left my car, returned and asked the front desk that I wanted to see their owner. The owner came out, to my surprise, who was the person I met first.
I told the owner my situation, and said, I needed a job offer letter now. I gave him my suggestion that l would work for him one week for free, after one week if they thought I was qualified for the job they could hire me, if not they wouldn’t.
Finally, the owner agreed and gave me an offer letter, which offered me $6.50/hour, the state minimum wages.
The international student office adviser disbelieved when she saw my offer letter, which offered so little money. She said they were exploiting me, and asked me if I wanted to take the job. I said, yes. Really how did she realize that was so difficult for me to get it?
Until started to work at this company I found they already hired one other Chinese student and offered him over $10/hour.
After worked one week and took a test, they hired me but fired that student. What could I say? Was it, we called, a competition? I didn’t want to think much, only wanted to value the opportunity I got even more.
Next summer when I looked for my second job in the USA, it would be much easier for me. I found the job post in our school. It was a database company, using Access applications.
I didn’t use Access before, but since Access applications using Visual Basic Language, I knew how to use Access very quickly. The owner, who came from New York Wall Street, met me in a cafe shop near his house for an interview, and they offered me $14/hour for the job.
I worked for this company for one year. When I was going to graduate from my school, the company wanted to keep me, but I didn’t want to stay. One month before I graduated, I quitted the job, started to look for a formal job position.
Job Hunting more critically depending on you how to handle an opportunity
Two months passed after my graduation, and I still didn’t find a job. Other students already started their new job positions. It was worrisome.
As an international student, I only had one year to stay in the USA after I graduated to work and gain work experiences. I not just needed a job, but also required the company to sponsor my H1 Visa so that after one year I could stay in the USA to work, which many companies were not willing to do so.
One day a consulting agent called me and said one of his clients needed a senior software programmer. It was a full-time permanent job, and the company would offer a salary between low 70k and high 60k.
The agent suggested me to ask salary high 60k. As I knew other students, their best pay was below 50k. Sounded so good to me, more likely I less had a chance.
I went to this company for the interview. The company CEO met me, introduced his company to me that they were interested in internet e-commerce and search engines. I was not familiar with these areas, but I didn’t want to lose any opportunities.
What should I do? I was quickly thinking. Since I had experiences of how to look for a job, I seemed more mature than before, more controlling myself in a job interview. I suddenly recalled what happened in my first looking for a job and had an idea.
I said to the CEO, your project was new; no people did it before. So I needed some time to think about it. I would work one week for free. After one week I would show you my plan and some examples. If you satisfied you could hire me. He asked me what my salary requirement was. I said 60k, and he agreed.
When I came home, I told my roommate. My roommate said that in the USA, as long as I worked for them, they had to pay me, no matter hired me or not. But I had a different opinion — I didn’t care about money, what I thought about was that how to do this project for them to take any chances I could get.
I didn’t have any ideas about how to do this project. So I went to a book store to see if I could find some solutions. It looked like I was in luck. I found a new book talked about search engines. I spent some money and bought a few books.
The CEO put one desk in his office next to his. I worked in his office. After a few days, less than one week, I showed my work to the CEO and the president, they satisfied what I did and hired me. Next day they gave me a big office.
I was so happy about that, I got my job later than other students but got a better salary. The company not just sponsored my H1 Visa but also paid my legal fees…
Different attitudes making differences
Probably some people would not agree with me — when looking for a job, I didn’t care about money and only care about job opportunities, especially when I didn’t have much work experiences, because, I thought, once I had an excellent job opportunity, money would automatically come with me.
Probably some people would agree with me — don’t give up when you meet some problematic situations. But how can you do that? I think you have to have some skills, some knowledge, and learn new technologies as much as you can. Only having done so, you will have the courage not to give up.