From the Director’s Desk:  Professionalism in the United States

The start of a new school year is always exciting.  Whether it is your first semester and you are getting your first job in the United States somewhere on-campus, or you are returning from a rewarding internship experience that you did while on Curricular Practical Training, the start of a new year is a perfect time to think about what it means to be “professional” in the United States.

Being “professional” or “professionalism” isn’t a term that is limited to professions that require extensive education or that require a suit and tie.  While professionalism may look somewhat different depending on whether your job is as a food service worker, a research assistant, a software engineer or Accountant at a Fortune 500 company, there are some expected traits that exhibit good professionalism here that employers will expect you to have if you are going to succeed in your career in the United States.  Here are some traits of professionalism that are common across all careers in the United States:

Arrive on time:

Punctuality is incredibly important in the United States, when you are meeting a classmate or professor, and especially if you have a job.  In the United States, people expect you to show up on time to start work or for meetings – to arrive late gives an impression that you don’t care about your job.

Dress appropriately for the workplace:

What you will wear to work will depend on the job- whether it is a uniform, lab, or office environment, there will be different expectations.  It is perfectly okay to ask what the dress code is at any new job.  Regardless of the dress code however, a universal rule is that you should arrive neat and clean.  All scents should be neutral and devoid of body odor, strong cologne, or incense.  Keep in mind that how you dress after you start a job and the way you dress for an interview are very different.  Even in places where employees dress more casually for work, it is usually expected for someone to dress professionally for an interview.

Be a Team Player:

In order to succeed in the U.S. workforce, you should be able to work well in a team.  Offer to assist other co-workers if they are overburdened.   Something that will also help you build respect among your co-workers is to avoid gossiping about your co-workers, and not over-sharing your personal problems.

Take responsibility for mistakes:

Making mistakes is a part of learning, and because we are human, even the most competent person will occasionally make a mistake.  In the US work environment, it is a valued trait when employees admit an error.  You should learn from that mistake, and get assistance in training or technique to ensure it doesn’t happen again, but admitting a mistake instead of blaming others will also make you a respected and valued member of the team.

Be honest:

This isn’t just about telling the truth- it is also about omitting relevant information or misrepresenting yourself or your skill set.  Honesty about not being trained or equipped to do something is the best policy- it will avoid mistakes, and potentially even injury, if you disclose your lack of training or experience.  It will not be a liability as long as you can also explain how you are a quick learner and already learned to do something similar – something we refer to as “transferrable skills”.

Only leave a job with appropriate notice:

The minimum expected amount of notice that any employee should give before leaving a job is two-weeks.  Some jobs and professions require additional notice – for many jobs requiring an advanced degree one month is a minimum, maybe more in order to smoothly transition your work duties.  There are of course some instances in which it is okay to leave a job without notice- if you aren’t being paid as promised, if your safety is threatened, if you are being asked to do something illegal are some examples.   However, absent those types of circumstances, how you leave a job is just as important as how you performed when you were in the job.  Every former employer is a potential source of feedback on your performance in the United States, regardless of whether or not you listed them as a reference.

Practice good ethics in accepting job offers:

A job search process is an arduous one for any employer.  Not only are considerable time and resources being used for the search itself, but the planning of projects is being done before you even arrive on-site, based on your acceptance of the offer.  It is important to understand that when you begin your work life in the United States, whether it is in food service at Campus Enterprises or at an employer that recruits at NC State, the job offer, even one that is verbally accepted, creates a contractual relationship between you and that employer.  To reneg on that job offer has consequences, and in small industries where portions of companies are bought and sold, you may find yourself needing to work with that company again.  You could even lose the new offer, because employers who discover that an individual reneged on an offer with a competitor may see you as untrustworthy and unethical.  These are not terms you want associated with you before you even begin your career!

 

Your career in the U.S. begins at NC State!

Please remember that as an international student, your career and professional reputation are beginning right here, right now, while you are a student at NC State.  On-campus employment is a wonderful opportunity that assists students financially, and some will get invaluable experience in their field of study.  Sometimes however, students who are working outside of their fields in areas requiring more manual labor, such as in food service, or service related jobs such as Campus Recreation or the Library, develop a mindset that this job or their supervisor will not help them in their chosen careers, and therefore perhaps don’t treat the job as seriously.  These students couldn’t be more wrong!

Hiring managers are of course looking for relevant experience, however they are also evaluating professionalism.  What will their former employer say about them?  Would they rehire the student?  Were they punctual? Did they perform tasks correctly and on time? Were they good team players?  Did they ever complain when asked to do something?   Hiring managers know that they can train an employee to do the task at hand, but these other traits? They display professionalism, and are much harder to train.

Amongst on-campus employers at NC State, recent instances of international students quitting a job without notice or reneging an offer before starting has created a climate where on-campus employers are now hesitant to hire international students.  This has negative consequences for all international students, many of whom depend on on-campus work.  It is also extremely short-sighted on behalf of the students, who at this point could have a solid job on-campus, where they can build their professional reputation and references for that summer internship they are hoping for off-campus.

Over the summer, several graduates from NC State (also all international students) reneged post-completion job offers at one company.  That employer is now questioning whether they should recruit from NC State at all going forward, because they question the professional ethics being taught to NC State students.   This is an impact that not only affects the other students that might have been hired in place of these individuals, and the reputation of NC State students in general, but also threatens the very reason many of you chose NC State as your school- the ability to get a job with a reputable employer after graduation.

It should also be noted that departments on campus are taking notice.  Depending on the circumstance, reneging on an off-campus offer for either internships or post-completion work will find the student unable to use the Career Development Center or ePack as a resource, will not be able to participate in on-campus interviews, and departments have created ‘black lists’ where students will not receive any future support regarding references or letters documenting acquired skills.  This can ultimately impact a future green card application, where documenting skills is a critical part of the Labor Certification process.

OIS and the Career Development Center will be offering a number of workshops this year regarding professionalism, resumes, job searching and interviewing, as well as the visa processes for off-campus employment.  Please keep an eye out for those sessions and if you are in doubt about how to handle a tricky employment issue in the U.S. please ask!  If we can’t assist you we will refer you to the best resource to assist.  We look forward to working with you all to facilitate your employment experiences and to make the hiring of NC State International Students a pleasant and rewarding experience for all involved!

 

Elizabeth James, Director

Resources for Student Success

Hello Students!

Now that we are a few weeks into your semester you likely have identified some of the challenges of studying at NC State and in the U.S.  We hope you have also identified some of the wonderful resources on campus available to YOU!  Below is a list of some of the resources that may be key to you being a successful student here at NC State.  Make it a personal goal to utilize or learn about at least two of them before midterms!

University Tutorial Center (UTC)

The UTC offers academic tutoring for many undergraduate subjects.  You may hear your academic advisor say, “All of my ‘A’ students have tutors.”  There is a reason they are making A’s!  Please check their website to learn about how to get connected with a tutor and attend an orientation session before Oct 7th.

Writing and Speaking Tutorial Services (WSTS)

The WSTS is for graduate and undergraduate students and is part of UTC. It can help you with the writing process and review your papers & speeches.  Academic writing style varies greatly from country to country.  The style of writing you are used to in your home country may not be the style that your professors in the U.S. are looking for. Visit WSTS for assistance.

English Language Resources

If you need extra practice with the English language use some of the resources listed on our webpage. Please speak with OIS if you are struggling with English and need resources beyond those listed on the webpage. There may be other options for you.

Counseling Center

Counseling Center staff meet with students facing personal, academic, or other challenges.  Their services are strictly confidential and are a great benefit for students.  They also host an International Student Success Group and many “drop-in groups” such as stress management and strategies for improving your sleep.  The Counseling Center is located inside the Student Health Center.

Learn about Academic Expectations in the U.S

How we teach, learn and do research is very much defined along cultural lines, so you may have noticed that the way you’re accustomed to learning can be very different from the way things are done at this university. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the academic expectations at NC State University, so that you don’t inadvertently get into trouble. OIS has designed a web page especially for you on this topic to help you understand and point you to the resources you may need.

The Office of International Services (OIS)

We want you to succeed!  As you know, you are required to maintain full time enrollment in order to maintain your F-1 or J-1 status. You are also required to make normal academic progress and maintain good academic standing.  If you fall out of “good academic standing” it can affect your immigration status.  We want to help you avoid that!  If you feel you will not be as academically successful as you had expected this semester due to medical or academic hardships, please know that you may be eligible for a Reduced Course Load (RCL) authorization.  Check the eligibility requirements on our RCL webpage and let us know if you have questions or want to talk about options.  RCL are especially flexible for first semester students.  If you are new to NC State this fall and are struggling, come see us soon.

If you need additional assistance we are here to help.  Also, do not allow there to be boundaries between you and the  Academic Advisors in your Department or College. Communicate with them early and often about your challenges and ask for their advice and support for improvement. Students sometimes struggle alone either for cultural or personal reasons.  Often if a student who is struggling does not get the help they need early in the semester, they regret it later. If you feel yourself struggling, please seek assistance early! Communication is key.

OIS Spotlight: Hillary Stoker

The OIS is excited to welcome Ms. Hillary Stoker back to the office! For the past year she has been living and working in Virginia, but has recently relocated to Raleigh. She will resume her position in the OIS as an International Student and Scholar advisor.

 

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I grew up in Ohio, but I hate the cold and snow (which Ohio has a lot of!) so I decided to move south to attend college at Elon University. Elon has a great study abroad program and I was lucky enough to take advantage during my time there. I think that is really where my passion for all things international started. After I graduated Elon I moved to Chapel Hill and worked for a year at UNC in the APPLES Service Learning Office. I really enjoyed working with students, but wanted to get back in to the international education field so I decided to get a masters in it from NC State. And that’s how I was introduced to OIS!

What do you do at OIS? What are your primary responsibilities?

As an international student and scholar advisor my primary responsibility is to help to guide international students and scholars in navigating life in the U.S. Whether they have questions about their immigration status or how  to pay a parking ticket I am here to provide international students and scholars with the appropriate regulations and also help connect them to the appropriate university and community resources.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I like to hangout with my pets (I have an adorable dog and two crazy cats) and my fiance. I like the outdoors and enjoy hiking and camping. I sew and knit, and draw, and sometimes dabble in photography. I also like just to sit and enjoy a good movie and a good glass of wine.

Where are a few places you have traveled?

I’ve been to the U.K., Ireland, France, China, Tibet, and Mexico.

 

Fall Fun in the Triangle

If you’re looking for a break from your studies, you will find that there is no shortage of things to do in the Raleigh area throughout the year, and especially in the fall. Raleigh is a vibrant city with a variety of museums, live music venues, and numerous street festivals through out the year. Below are just a few examples, but there are plenty of other events taking place throughout the fall semester. The Visit Raleigh site is a great resource to find other activities and events throughout the Triangle.


SPARKcon

geekspark

Digital Motion (DiMo) is an annual interactive art exhibit that takes place during SPARKcon.

SPARKcon is an interdisciplinary creativity, art & design festival where visitors can attend numerous events that showcase SPARKcon’s themes, or SPARKs, including art, music, film, fashion, geek, and circus. SPARKcon will be held from September 17-20th on Fayetteville Street in Downtown Raleigh.

 

 


 

The 30th International Festival of Raleigh

This year the International Festival of Raleigh is celebrating its 30th anniversary from October 9 – 11th at the Raleigh Convention Center. Take a stroll through the Cultural Exhibit Hall, enjoy authentic dance performances, try food from around the globe, and more!

 

 

 


North Carolina State Fair

NC State Fair

The North Carolina State Fair is one of the most anticipated events of the year for North Carolinians. Each fall, thousands of people travel from all over the state to enjoy carnival rides, games, fair food, concerts, performances, and more! This year’s fair will take place from October 15 – 25th.

Tickets: On Friday, October 16th the State Fair will offer admission tickets for only $5 with student ID (must be purchased at the gate). To purchase tickets for other days, please see the State Fair’s website.  Purchase tickets online in advance to receive a discount.

Transportation: The easiest way to get to the fair from campus is to use public transportation. Free parking is available around the fairgrounds but lots can fill up very quickly. The CAT/Go Raleigh bus operates a special shuttle route along Hillsborough Street for the State Fair.


NCAIE International Leadership Conference for Students

November 13-14th at Durham Technical Community College

NCAIE Save the Date

Join undergraduate and graduate students from universities and colleges from across the state for a weekend of networking, team building, and presentations on topics including international initiatives, global education, cultural diversity, and student leadership. All students are welcome to attend and/or submit a proposal to present.

For more information on registration, presentation proposals, and scholarships, please visit the NCAIE website.