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Employer Insights for Navigating the Job Search as an International Student

Rukaiya standing under a Tesla Gigafactory 1 sign.Rukaiya Tunkiwala, M.S. Industrial Engineering, December 2018

This blog entry is the last installment in a series addressing specific job search considerations for underrepresented and diverse candidates. We recognize that identities are intersectional and that identity markers do not exist independently of each other, and we offer this information to those who would like to apply it in their job search. Today’s blog is written by Rukaiya Tunkiwala, 2018 M.S. Industrial Engineering graduate and full-time Industrial Engineer with Tesla.

Tell us about your role at your most recent position:

I was an Industrial Engineering Intern for Tesla at Gigafactory 1 in Reno, Nevada. My responsibilities included designing a warehouse for hazardous materials and space and flow allocations for future assembly lines. I am now heading back to Tesla, full time, as an Industrial Engineer and will be responsible for high level decision making regarding space allocation, factory layout and future factory design.

What resources did you use during your internship/job search?

I used LinkedIn obsessively for my job hunt, and I received interview calls from Tesla through an extensive network on LinkedIn. However, to gain someone’s attention on LinkedIn, I would recommend having a set goal/position in mind and approaching relevant people accordingly rather that spamming a hundred people with generic messages. Seek out individuals who are working in the roles you are interested in and recruiters for that area. For example, I used a very job specific and concise message that I sent out to relevant people stating my exact career goal and relevant project experience.

What core skills or qualities do you think employers find most useful?

In addition to your existing academic skills, it is important to have relevant projects and practical experience. Gaining real-world experience and getting involved in projects will allow you to hone your problem solving skills, something employers look for extensively in candidates. As engineers, soft skills are always taken for granted but these skills are very important in the workplace. Technical know-how coupled with great communication is a combination that employers love to find in engineers. Displaying passion towards a prospective job is crucial and cannot be feigned; recruiters can see through it. I also feel that showing you have put thought into your career path/direction increases the chances that recruiters will shortlist you.

What would you tell your peers they need to do in order to find a great internship or full-time position?

To land an internship or a full – time job of your dreams, you need to have a set goal. I was always certain I wanted to work in sustainability and all my coursework and projects reflected these interests. A set goal proves that you’re passionate towards your objectives which can help you when interviewing with recruiters during the job search process. If you are an international student, the struggle can be real. Don’t apply to just a handful of companies! Apply to as many companies as possible. Make sure your resume stands out and devote time to building your network. You will have to sweat it out more than others but it is not impossible, so hang in there and be persistent.

"Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up." - Elon Musk

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