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Succeeding in the U.S. as an International Student

By Guy Feibish '13  |  october, 2012, Issue 2
Guy Feibish

Guy Feibish '13

As an international student from Israel who was studying abroad for the first time in my life, I faced a few major challenges which I would like to share with all of you. In looking back on the last twelve months since I moved from Tel Aviv to Chicago, I can definitely say that despite the difficulties I faced, I was able to successfully achieve all of my goals this past year, while truly enjoying the time spent in Chicago.

One of the biggest challenges I faced in coming to Chicago Booth were the academics. I found studying for the first time in English, and not in my native Hebrew to be difficult. Although I could speak English fluently, reading in English has always taken more time and effort, especially when it came to advanced textbooks and journal articles. Another related challenge was the need to express myself and articulate my thoughts in English on a daily basis. I am proud to say that despite these challenges, I completed my first year at Booth successfully.

I also found the intense and time consuming internship recruiting process during the first quarter of school to be difficult. Given my background, I was not familiar with terms such as networking, "crop circles", "closed lists" and/or cover letters. In Israel, applying for a job was a simple straightforward process that included sending your resume and interviewing with the hiring managers. From day one at Booth, I learned how to write my resume and post-interview thank you letters, fill out job applications and submit cover letters. I learned to appreciate the importance of networking and practicing the "tell me about yourself" question in a comprehensive, yet concise way and in English for the first time. Knowing that there are U.S. work authorization restrictions many companies have on recruiting students, I realized that securing a summer internship would be challenging. However, after interviewing with a large number of companies and, consequently, obtaining a few summer internship offers from top companies across the U.S., I am proud to say that it is truly possible, as I ended up having an amazing summer in J.P. Morgan's exclusive leadership program.

In addition to the challenges associated with academics and the career search, there are also cultural challenges I faced while residing in the U.S. Culture differences between Israel and the U.S. are enormous; there are environmental differences including different climates and geography, as well as social differences such as religion, customs and cultural norms. Moreover, leaving behind my family and friends made my acclimation to the U.S. more challenging. However, I was able to overcome this challenge by quickly succeeding in building great friendships with fellow Booth students. These strong friendships helped me overcome the initial culture shock I faced, and helped me integrate to Chicago. I was invited by friends to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, and as such learned more about the culture and the local customs. I've also had a chance to explore Chicago and enjoyed what the city has to offer. Surprisingly, within a few months I felt that Chicago was my second home, and today I already feel it is my home.

While I had significant travel experiences prior to business school, I had never combined the cultural challenges with an ambitious academic curriculum, and a formal job search before coming to Chicago. The last year has not only given me the confidence that I will be able to excel in my next international experience, but also that I can help other first-year international students at Booth have a more successful experience.

 

Last Updated 10/12/12
Last Updated 10/12/12