Monday, August 27, 2018

Career Fair Tips

A common worry of college students is finding a job after graduation or finding an internship during super long summer break. Career fairs connect college students and companies; however, it’s definitely not an easy thing. During my sophomore year, I attended the Engineering Career Fair for the first time. I still remember that my resume was almost like a blank page and I didn’t know what I should talk about when facing employers. Now, as a senior student, I have gained more experience and I am going to share with you some tips on attending career fairs. Feel free to comment and share your own thoughts with me too!

I have only had experience with the Engineering Career Fair, which might be different from other career fairs on campus.

Before the career fair
1. Make sure your resume stands out
A resume is a snapshot of your entire professional life. In order to leave a good impression on hiring managers, your resume should show that you are the best fit for the position. If you need advice on how to write your resume, you can find a lot of useful resources at the career center.
2. Do your own research
Before the career fair starts, the Engineering Career Resource Center (ECRC) usually gives out a booklet on the visiting companies and their hiring policies. It’s a good idea to study who is going to be at the fair before attending. For international students, it’s extremely important to check the hiring policies beforehand. Make sure that the companies you’re interested in are eligible to sponsor work visas for international students.
3. Get a suit and a pair of comfortable shoes
Nothing makes a recruiter groan more than being approached by a sloppy dresser. Appearance is part of the first impression you give to people, and it reflects your earnest to get the job. A suit will make you look more professional and confident. A pair of comfortable shoes is also very important, since you will most likely walk around for two whole days during the career fair.
4. Rest well
The most important thing to do on the day before the career fair is to get enough sleep. Make sure you have enough energy to be your best self.
During the career fair
1. Rock your communication with employers
Now it’s the time to fight. Always make confident, positive eye contact and smile. First, start with a one-minute introduction of yourself that you have prepared and give them your resume. Then wait for the employers to follow up. Some employers like to dig deep into your resume, and others like to ask more general questions. Therefore, prepare for all kinds of questions beforehand.
2. Don’t get bored while you are waiting
Compared to the time you spend talking to employers, the time you spend waiting is much, much longer. Therefore, don’t waste it! It’s a great time to connect with other people. Most will share a lot of useful information, such as the employers they have met, their conversation experiences, and the best follow-up gifts. When I came to the career fair in my sophomore year, I learned how to communicate effectively with employees while talking to people waiting in the same line. The more information you have, the better prepared you would be.
After going back home
1. Get ready for the interviews!
The battle does not end after the career fair! Companies will usually reach out to you very soon.
2. Follow up with hiring managers
Don’t be frustrated if you didn’t get interviews. You can try to send the hiring managers an email to express your strong interest in joining their company. Sometimes, you will get a second chance!
This year's Engineering Career Fair will be hosted on Sept. 17 & 18 on North Campus. I hope the career fair is a success and you find your ideal jobs/internships.

Written by Jiayue (Margaret) Lu
Peer Advisor
Undergraduate Student

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Few Things I Wish I Knew Earlier As An International Student

The definition of excellence in education is tricky and varies a lot among different cultures--even person to person. The following are a few things I wish I knew earlier as an international student in Michigan.

Lecture and Office Hours:
A lecture is an informational presentation given by a professor or graduate student instructor (GSI) in class, but it’s more complex than that simple definition. While professors want students to know the material of the class well, they also want students to pursue answers to questions rather than relying solely on what they say in class. In the US, students are expected to truly get involved in the lecture; for instance, by asking quick questions, confirming one’s understandings, or even talking about some ad hoc ideas for a potential research topic. This might differ from cultures where the professor is considered the sole authority and questions are taken more as interruptions than participation and engagement. Moreover, the loose academic hierarchy also carries over into office hours, talks, and seminars. For international students, starting off attending office hours may be a little tough, especially given that one-on-one conversations require a ton of preparation and prompt responses (for those who's first language isn't English). At the same time, attending office hours can present you with tremendous opportunities, since the interaction promotes mutual understanding between students and professors and conversations often lead to topics beyond the class like research opportunities. This is not uncommon even in basic classes, and professors are always looking for students who are truly enthusiastic and invested in their  academics. Therefore, don’t hide your potential by being silent always!

More to checkout:
Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU); grader positions in departments; tons of super cool study abroad programs by CGIS (with timespan varying from a few days to the whole academic year)

Group Activities on Campus:
As a newcomer to U-M, international students can make life much easier for themselves by staying with people who share their similar culture. This, however, can make life boring and doesn't take advantage of studying in the U.S. Don't trap your experience in a tiny area and characterize your American experience only by taking classes in English. There are many extracurricular activities to check out, especially group activities to enrich your life in Michigan. I keep urging people to attend the upcoming Northfest and Festifall at the beginning of September. You’ll find numerous organizations and clubs on campus and can even pick up a new hobby. I was really into swing dancing last year. This was a club where men and women hung out and danced on Wednesday nights--it was organized but still relaxed. I also have an everlasting love for the men’s rowing team! Step out of your comfort zone and maximize your quality of life as much as possible!

Other activities  to checkout:

Information Overload and Filters:
Like many international students, my life became entirely overwhelmed by emails after coming to the US, and it took me quite a while to get used to it. It took two seconds to register for emails from the organizations I was potentially interested in, but two years to make the decision to drop off. Especially on Monday mornings, be prepared to get smashed by emails. For those who are involved in everything, you will probably be on the mailing list of hundreds of organizations from your department’s weekly newsletter to Stubhub. This information overload can be exhausting and distract you from your daily routine. This situation is the opposite extreme of staying in a closed community--you’re too involved! Too many choices can lead to information overload, and it’s important to learn to filter information with efficiency. 

Helpful resources to balance information overload:
Google Calendar for staying organized and keeping track of events; Umich Career center can help you navigate the choices you need to make about what to do after graduating

Written by JinCheng Wang
International Orientation Peer Advisor
Undergraduate Student
Courtesy to Kate Guichelaar for Review

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Conference Tips: My First Conference Experience in Vancouver

During July 29 to August 3, I had my memorable first conference trip to Vancouver, Canada. The Joint Statistical Meeting (JSM) is the largest annual statistical conference in the North American, with over 6500 people attending from all over the world. Before arriving at JSM, I made four goals for this conference trip:

  1. find inspiration from talks related to my thesis work
  2. go to talks for personal interest
  3. reunite with old friends from college who also attend the meeting
  4. explore Vancouver area
In order to achieve these goals, I made a detailed plan. Here are seven tips that made my conference experience a success for me and, hopefully, for you too!

1. Register for the conference, book the flight, and apply for the Rackham Graduate School travel grant
Each academic year, Rackham Graduate School provides one travel grant for each graduate student, both masters and PhD level. Details can be found here. For large conferences like JSM, early bird flight and hotel booking can ensure you more flexibility in planning and save you a lot of money.

2. Make a strategic plan for the sessions you want visit
With more than 600 sessions happening in a week, it was daunting to fit in all sessions and topics that interest me. As a newbies, I carefully studied the session information over the JSM app on the flight to Vancouver, and marked the ones I wanted to go on my calendar. This prevented me from being overwhelmed by hundreds of dazzling talks happening at the same time.

3. Broaden and balance the sessions you attend, and allow time to process new information
While I was busy going to the sessions related to my work, I also benefited from those that were not directly related to my research. For example, during the session on how to effectively communicate with non-statisticians, the presenter shared the core ideas and tips to successfully cooperate with investigators with different statistical demands. This type of talk was less technical, but useful to all researchers.

4. Take advantage of the social events
I was surprised to find that the social events at night were an incredible extension of the formal meetings in the daytime. In addition to personal meet-ups, different schools usually have their own official alumni receptions in the hotel. This is a great opportunity to mingle with alumni and review the remarkable achievements the department made in the past year (and the great food served is always a bonus!).

5. Don’t miss the career fair
Another crucial part of large conference is the career fair. By registering and submitting resumes in advance, you will be contacted by attending companies for interviews during the conference. Although an extra fee is often required to attend the conference career fair, those positions better target your major field and you don't have to fly for onsite interviews.

6. Reconnect with old friends
For your friends who studied the same major as you, it’s a great opportunity to reunite with them if they also attend the conference. For me, it was amazing to reconnect with a college friend during the poster session who I had lost contact for many years.

7. Take advantage of exploring local restaurants and landmarks
Vancouver is definitely paradise for a seafood and outdoor lover, and I happen to be both. I finished my Vancouver trip by spending the last 2 days in the mountains hiking and camping; it was one of the most incredible hiking experiences I have ever had.

Garibaldi Lake where I spent one night camping

Written by Tian Gu
International Orientation Peer Advisor
Graduate Student

Thursday, August 9, 2018

How to Obtain Health Care in the U.S.

The US healthcare system is extremely complex and confusing, even for Americans. For an international student/scholar, navigating the healthcare system can be a daunting task and it might be tempting to put it off until needs arise. However, I urge you to avoid doing so because accidents and sickness can happen to anyone at any given time. In that moment of panicking, it can be difficult to figure out where to get help, and picking the wrong option may delay your care and end up being costly. In addition, since you are already paying for the health insurance and University Health Services (UHS), it is good to know the available services and utilize them to keep yourself in optimal health. Lastly, if you have a chronic condition that requires regular care and medications, it is especially important to establish your care with a U.S. physician in case of medical emergency and to obtain prescriptions for your medications. This is because U.S. pharmacies do not accept prescriptions written outside of the U.S.
When I first came to the U.S., I also delayed looking into this topic. I, like most of my peers, felt that there were “more important” things to do: settling into my dorm, getting to know the university and the town, scheduling classes, and getting accustomed to the American learning environment. Learning where and how to obtain health care was a task of low priority... Until one year later. In my sophomore year, I had an accident that required a three-day hospital stay costing over $200,000. Despite having insurance that covered most of the cost, I still ended up with a bill of over $30,000 that took me months to resolve. Although such a scenario is unlikely to happen again, I have committed to be knowledgeable about the U.S. healthcare system and spent days researching this topic. To help you avoid getting into a similar headache, I am providing below a general description of the American healthcare system, some options that are available to you at the U of M to obtain medical, dental, and vision care, as well as directions to additional resources for those interested.
In general, there are three places to get medical care in the U.S depending on the urgency of your situation: doctor clinics, urgent care facilities, and hospital emergency rooms. Doctor clinics are the most common way to obtain care for non-urgent concerns such as getting or renewing prescriptions, getting annual physical exams, and receiving vaccinations. An appointment is usually required, and the wait time can range from a few days to weeks. For urgent but non-life-threatening concerns such as minor cuts and injuries, fevers, and severe sore throat, urgent care facilities are the best option. These facilities typically do not require appointments, and you can usually be seen within the same day. Lastly, emergency rooms are reserved for life-threatening situations such as major injuries, uncontrolled bleeding, and alcohol poisoning. You will be screened at arrival, and depending on the severity, you might be seen by a health care provider immediately.
At Michigan, the cheapest and most convenient option for international students and scholars to obtain medical care is the University Health Services (UHS). Many UHS services are free for enrolled students since students pay a health service fee as part of their tuition. UHS provides many non-urgent care services and treatments for minor emergencies. In addition, you can establish care with a primary care physician (PCP) at UHS and this person will coordinate all of your subsequent care, including ordering prescriptions, laboratory testings, vaccinations, and referrals to specialists as needed. Please visit UHS website for instructions on how to make appointments. Another option to establish care with a PCP is at the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) General Medicine clinics. Please visit this page for locations and phone numbers for making appointments.

For urgent care, after-hours and over the weekend needs, there are urgent care clinics in Ann Arbor that open until 9-10 PM on weekdays and 7 PM on weekend. UHS also has a nurse advice call line (734-764-8320) that you can call at anytime, day or night, for health advices. This may save you a trip to the UHS, an urgent care facility, or the emergency room. Lastly, if you or someone you know experiences a life-threatening emergency, CALL 911 or go GO TO THE NEAREST HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM. In many cases, this will be UMHS Emergency Department on the medical campus. However, there are also other hospitals in the area that might be closer to you.

Dental care can be very expensive in the U.S. These services are typically not covered by your regular health insurance. Some graduate students and scholars might be eligible for benefits that are paid for by the University of Michigan, which include dental and vision insurance. In such cases, I recommend visiting the U-M Benefits Office website for more information on your coverage and where to get care. Personally, I get my dental care from the Dental Faculty Associates Clinic at the U-M School of Dentistry. This clinic is run by faculty dentists and provides services equivalent to any private practice in the area. In addition, the clinic is located in the Dental School building on Central Campus, which is convenient for those who do not have a car. For others who do not have dental insurance, you can enroll in a dental savings plan that provides 15-50% discounts to most services. You can also see a student dentist and Student Clinics at the U-M Dental School for lower fees. However, these appointments usually take longer since the students’ works need to be evaluated by a faculty member.

Similar to dental care, eyeglasses and contact lenses are not covered by general health insurances. However, most plans do pay for an annual eye exam. You can obtain an exam at the UHS Eye Care Clinic or at the Kellogg Eye Center. The UHS Optical Shop, as well as Walmart, Costco, and many online retailers do provide affordable options for basic glasses and contact lenses. If you are are eligible for U-M benefits, you can enroll in a vision plan which pays for an annual eye exam, contact lenses or one pair of glasses per year.

For additional information, please attend the following workshops during Orientation. If you are eligible for U-M benefits, I recommend the “Benefit Overview for Graduate Student” workshop co-sponsored by the Benefits Office. This is held only once on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 from 3:30 PM to 5 PM. Please follow this link to register for this workshop. If you are not eligible for GradCare health insurance, you will likely be enrolled in the UM International Student/Scholar Health Insurance plan, in which case I recommend attending the “UM’s International Health Insurance Plan” workshop. Lastly, I recommend everyone to attend the “University Health Services: Information and Tour” workshop. The latter two are held every week during orientation. For a schedule of these workshops as well as many others, please visit the Summer Orientation website. If you have additional questions, please feel free to comment below and I will answer them as best I can.

Written by Vi Tang
International Orientation Peer Advisor
Graduate Student