Advice for Internationals


Class of 2000 graduates from Poland and India embody the Colby Alumni Network in action, mentoring current students.

By Stephen Collins '74
Photography by Robert P. Hernandez

Khoa Nguyen '11 (right), from Vietnam, focuses on advice from Sambit Pattanayak '00, who spent two days on campus to counsel students on job searches.

Voytek Wieckowski and Sambit Pattanayak, both 2000 graduates, have a lot in common-with each other and with Colby's current crop of international students who want to work in the United States but need an H1B visa to do so.

Both Wieckowski, from Poland, and Pattanayak, from India, needed the non-immigrant work visa that allows employers to hire foreign workers in specialized occupations after their student visas and occupational practical training extensions expire. Both succeeded and have experience recruiting and hiring on their now impressive résumés.

With students using the Colby Alumni Network, “We were fielding numerous calls from Colby asking us about the job search,” Wieckowski said. So, after going over the same ground repeatedly in one-on-one conversations with eager students, the pair decided to present their advice more formally-for a broad audience online and by visiting Colby for two days this fall to work with interested students.

A lot of their advice is available on their website In addition, a couple of dozen students-American and international-listened to their presentation in Olin Nov. 11, and many of them signed up for counseling and conversations with the Pattanayak and Wieckowski in the Career Center the following day.

They encouraged students interested in business to work in the United States at least for a time. “Here you learn the basics of business better than anywhere in the world,” Pattanayak said. “And that U.S. experience is valued anywhere in the world,” Wieckowski chimed in.

They told students the transition from the supportive, collaborative atmosphere on Mayflower Hill to the tough and competitive “real world” can be uncomfortable. But they assured students that the education they're receiving is world class, and the skills they'll take away make them competitive with applicants from anywhere else.

Students were advised to sell hard what they will add to a company's output, to emphasize value. Be “polite, aggressive, confident,” but not entitled, Wieckowski said. Do your homework. “Don't ask a question you could answer with a quick Google search,” Pattanayak said.

Other advice sounded familiar to clients of the Career Center: the importance of networking, internships, and practice interviews, for example.

“The Career Center is doing a great job,” Pattanayak said afterward. “Man. I wish I'd had that ten years ago.”

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