By Jubi Gauchan, Peer for Career
My journey as an international student in the USA has not been easy. It has been a road fraught with difficulties and heartbreaks. In a world where many people come into New York knowing what they want to become, I was the exact opposite! I had just given up on my dream that I had since I was six, of becoming a doctor due to the enormous costs of medical school. Thus my first steps into NY: no idea what I wanted to major in, experiencing the brutal cold and not knowing anybody here. It was a start afresh after living for 18 years in Asia.
I was initially attending another college before transferring to Baruch during my sophomore year. Thus, I was one of the newest newbies you could find at Baruch: an international student and a transfer student!
Coming to Baruch was an eye-opener. To quote our President, we have our “own mini-UN” here, filled with people from all over the world speaking so many different languages! The potpourri was intimidating, but awe-striking. As a sophomore still, I had no idea what I truly wanted to major in. I was torn between accounting and finance. That first semester, I became a commuter student, going for classes and then heading back home. Time was just ticking by and I still had no clue as to what I wanted to major in. Also, I barely knew anyone. I knew that this soon had to change.
By chance, I happened to come across a brochure for the Rising Starr Sophomore Program (RSSP). I decided to challenge myself and break out of my comfort zone and applied. I had no confidence that I would even get in as they were targeting the best sophomores at Baruch. As luck would have it, I got into the program where I met so many bright people who were in similar situations as me (not knowing their exact major yet) but very much involved at Baruch. Looking at them as an inspiration, I took up the offer of joining Baruch’s oldest Honors society, Sigma Alpha Delta, in order to become more active on campus and get to know more people.
Long story short, one step led to another and I ended up joining T.E.A.M. Baruch. Through there, I met the most wonderful people on campus- people who are my closest friends at Baruch- and learned even more about leadership. After the general leadership training, I underwent another semester of rigorous training to be in the Peers for Careers program. Meanwhile, my year long journey with RSSP and the Starr Career Development Center helped me to decide upon my major.
It was a daunting task to finally decide that Finance was going to be my major. I was afraid. As an international student, it would be even more difficult to land a job in Finance, and all my international friends were pushing me to do accounting because of the perception that accounting is recession-proof. Regardless, I went with my gut and declared Finance as a major. Now came the tough part: finding an internship. With no prior finance-related work experience and little knowledge of the finance world, I took my major classes and went to events, workshops and career fairs. As I challenged myself more, I faced setbacks and triumphs and grew more as a person. Soon, after countless hours of preparations, I finally landed my first internship which then created even more opportunities for me.
Now in my senior year, as I look back, I see that all these years have been extremely challenging but equally as rewarding. In my journey as an international student, I have found these lessons helpful and I hope you find use of them too:
1) Never follow the path most traveled. Listen to your heart, find your own path and create your own opportunities. Believe that you can make it happen. Believe in yourself!
2) There will be days when you feel like nothing is going right in the world for you and everything seems to be unattainable. At that point, take a deep breath and just go do something else for that moment, such as watching your favorite TV shows, going for a long run, or talking with your close friends (which always helps!) Soon enough, you will find that the tasks you have to complete are not as daunting anymore.
3) Always be humble. There are so many people from different backgrounds that one can learn from, be they your professors, your peers, or the many people who keep our school running. Everybody has their own life stories that we can learn something from.
4) Do not burn bridges. Nobody will remain where they are at this particular point of time. Life is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. There may come a day when they are in a more favorable position than you. At that point, it is not the words that you spoke that they will remember, but the way you made them feel.
5) Always be grateful for the opportunities you have. Take advantage of being in one of the greatest cities in the world and at Baruch! Also, never consider something as beneath you, for every experience- good or bad- helps you to grow as a person and leads you to the next step in your journey to success.
In conclusion, regardless of our backgrounds, in our challenging world today it is all too easy to get caught up in our fast-paced lives and forget that we do not live forever. Hence, live each moment to the fullest. I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Steve Prefontaine:
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”