The main aim of my staying (as, I guess for most of the participants as well) in the USA was to improve my English and I thought that working with the native speakers would help me in achieving it. My major in the States was Journalism/Communication and I was eligible to find a job on campus
somehow connected with it, otherwise I would not get any authorisation from my program. Thus I began my search. At first I could not imagine what should I begin my search with and thus I decided to contact International Resource Center. They told me to contact Journalism/Communication department of my University.Idid that, but they did not have anything to offer me and told that graduate assistants do all the paper work for them.
So, as you see graduate assistants somehow are doing what we are allowed to do and thus “taking” our positions, but you should not worry about that – if you are really looking for a job, you will find one for sure.After
my visit to the department I went to the International Resource Center again. I should admit that usually international advisors of your host University are going to be very nice and helpful people.
I asked my advisors to keep their eyes and ears opened in case they hear or see some interesting job offers. I also was paying attention to what I saw and what I heard because I really wanted to find a job. Thus my main advice would be: if you want to have some choice between jobs and end up with a job that really satisfies you – look at the ads in the campus newspapers and on the boards and listen the word of mouth. Keep your ears and eyes opened – in such a case you will surely have the best job.
Once on the door of my dormitory I saw the ad telling that the University Foundation House is hiring callers. The day after I saw this ad, my advisors adviced me to go to the Foundation House and ask what was that job about because they already saw the same ad as well. I went to the Foundation and had an interview with my supervisor. In Ukraine we have not used to the fact that we are interviewed before somebody really hires us. Nowadays it is used more widely, but anyways when you are hired in America you need to fill in a lot of papers and to talk to your superviser about a lot of things which can be even not connected with your future job. Feel free to tell you supervisor what you think, because in America the freedom of speech really exists. So I was asked several questiuons about myself, my interests and other stuff.
Do not be afraid you are not fluent in English – usually Americans are very open to you, when they get to know that you are the foreigner. And remember that you need more experience to be fluent and thus you need to get the job. You can even tell this to your future supervisor and he/she will most likely be very pleased with the fact that you want to know their language and they can help you with this. Before I even went to Foundation I was pretty sure I will not ever get that job, because I do not know English enough to call to Americans and to talk to them over the phone, but that did not matter, because the person who hired me told that they already had internatiuonal students working for them and they were doing pretty well. Just do not be nervous while talking to the supervisor! I ended up with working for Foundation for two semesters. Well, I would not say I LOVED my job, but it was OK. If you do not feel you love your job – try to change it and if it is not possible, just live with it: most students do not like their jobs. Just calm yourself with the thought that it is temporarily and you will be OK. My first work night I really felt bad and could not talk well to people on the phone. I even used the paper form which I read what to say. But then I freely communicated with Americans and, of course, it helped me a lot in improving my English langage skills.
For most of you will probably be difficult to talk to Americans during the first several months. But if you are at work, you need to socialize with as much people as you can. I did not have anyone to tell me how to act and I think I was struggling from a culutre shock or whatever you call it during my first months and now I think I missed a lot of things. For instance, I talked to people I worked my first semester with very little though I wanted to make friends with them a lot. I mean A LOT!!!
Your work is one of the ways to make good American friends. From my own experience I should say that I met both of my best American friends at work. Now I keep in touch with them and they are really nice people. I even taught them some Ukrainian and now when one of them (Carrie) writes me letters, she always writes “hi” and “bye” only in Ukrainian, which I think is fun.
One more thing: you should destroy all the stereotypes Americans have about your country. We should never generalize and you should be the good example of your nation, so that Americans could understand that.