Breaking the Mold: International Student Hired as Program Manager

By
Stefanie Kreisman

So, you've decided to study in the land of the free, home of the brave. 

Congratulations! 

You've chosen a country with top-notch universities, a vibrant culture, and plenty of job opportunities. But let's be real, it's not all sunshine and rainbows for international students who want to work in the US after graduation. 

The process can be overwhelming, especially when you're navigating the treacherous waters of visas and work permits. 

That's where the H-1B visa comes in. 

It's the golden ticket that allows US employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations and can be extremely difficult to acquire.

Today, we're sharing the inspiring success story of Akshay Dehadray, an international student who landed a job in the US as a Program Manager for Walmart Connect.

International student to H-1B success

Hi Akshay! Congratulations on your new role. I’d love to hear more about your background and when you first came to the US to study.


I am originally from Mumbai, India and came to the US in 2010 to pursue a Master's in Biomedical Engineering at Florida International University. 


After graduation, I moved to California where I got an additional two master's degrees in Computer Information Systems and an MBA in Business Statistics and Data Analytics. 


I am working full-time at Walmart Connect as a Program Manager and pursuing a DBA in Business Administration with a dual concentration in IT Management and Leadership.

Wow, you certainly have many credentials! How did your career progression go?

My career progression hasn't been a straightforward one. I started working in the field of Biomedical Engineering; however, I soon realized it was not a field that I saw myself pursuing for the rest of my career. 


In addition to that, being an international student and finding the right employer who can support me with visa sponsorship made it difficult to have a linear career. I ended up hitting periods of break in employment. 


Eventually, I started enjoying working in the field of project management and was able to transition to the world of adtech. I always wanted to work in the field of media and tech and my current role is the same one that I had envisioned working in. 

I see. So, you made a little career change. What did you struggle with the most in your job search?

The most difficult part of my struggle has been finding employers who were willing to offer sponsorship. 


In all previous employments, I was told that I will be offered visa sponsorship but last the minute was told that it was not possible. 


In most cases I was asked will you need sponsorship now or in the future? My answer was yes and in many cases, I was rejected because of that. 


Hence finding relevant employers who can support sponsorship was the biggest challenge. 


When transitioning to tech, even though I had transferrable skills, I was told that I didn't have "tech" experience because I didn't work in tech until now. 


Ah, yes! I definitely relate to that. You need experience to get the job, but need a job to get experience. Tell me about the difficulties of finding a company that would offer an H-1B visa.


One of the biggest problems, is many companies don't clearly say if they will offer H-1B sponsorship or not. Many times, depending on the field, it can get even more challenging. 


Sometimes, smaller companies that have sponsored H-1B visas in the past but are currently not doing so may consider doing it in the future. A candidate may not know this until getting hired.


Other companies, because of restrictions, cannot offer H-1B even though one might be qualified. Some might even want to hire someone first for a year and then maybe do H-1B or just expect them to work on a contract basis. 


At least I was told a few times that I will get hired and after a year based on performance and budget, H-1B may be offered. This is challenging since there is a point where as an international student I don't have the luxury to continue working without sponsorship.

Yes, I understand. After spending so much time developing skills and building your life in America, it can be quite nerve wracking to know that your time in the country is limited due to visas and paperwork.

There is another option that most students usually take after graduation called OPT which stand for Optional Practical Training. This allows recent international graduates to enter the workforce on an extended F-1 visa. It is not a permanent solution but gives you time to look for an employer who will provide you with H-1B status.

Yes, this is the route that I took because I wanted to transition to program management and education helped in that regard.

That’s great! And what about Wonsulting? How did you hear about us? Which products or services did you use to help you get hired?

One day while leveraging LinkedIn for a job search, I ended up seeing Jonathan's content and the amazing work he had started with Jerry Lee by founding Wonsulting. 


I started attending their webinars, LinkedIn Lives, implementing all tricks and tips they recommended to start building a network and genuine relationships with individuals online especially Hiring Managers and Recruiters. 


I was also able to work for them as an intern which helped me not just to gain experience, but also was able to work very closely with them in terms of prepping for interviews, and how to answer specific questions. 


I started creating content under their guidance. Then after reading one such post, a friend of mine ended up referring me to my current role.


Amazing! So happy that all your hard work has paid off. Do you have any advice for those who are also looking to secure an H-1B visa?


My advice would be to keep their options open for other countries as well, such as Canada since immigration is relatively simpler, as opposed to trying to secure an H-1B which is totally lottery based.

The Importance of Networking

Akshay leveraged networking on LinkedIn which is a strategy that we, at Wonsulting, teach you how to do in our Ultimate Bundle which includes Career Consulting and Job Search Strategy services.

Our trained career consultants, like Emma, help you reach your career goals with planning and accountability. They’ll be there for you every step of the way as you network and snag interviews. The Ultimate Bundle also includes useful products like resume revision, interview prep, and auto apply. It's an all in one package to help you get hired faster.

Plus, the best part is, we now offer continued support with your career consultant until you get hired, so now the job search doesn’t have to be a lonely struggle. You can book 15 minute consultations with your career consultant anytime you want depending on availability.

And don’t just take Akshay’s word for it, we also helped Gary network his way to working at Amazon.


As we all know, the journey to securing an H-1B visa and finding a job in the US as an international student can be challenging and daunting, but it is by no means impossible. 

Akshay’s story serves as a reminder that with perseverance and determination, international students can achieve their dreams of working in the US. 

From navigating the complex visa process to networking and applying for jobs, there are many steps along the way, but it is all worth it in the end. As you embark on your own journey, remember that every obstacle is an opportunity to learn, grow, and become stronger. 

So keep pushing forward, stay positive, and never give up on your dreams. 

Good luck!

Stefanie Kreisman
Junior Copywriter

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