Making the adjustment – International professionals in finance & law

Leaving their home country for long periods of time, international students, undergraduates, and graduates have huge adjustments to make while pursuing their academic goals in the United States. Upon securing a job within these shores, another phase of adaptation is required for international professionals.

A few challenges include:

  • Some international professionals are reluctant to comment on or criticize ideas held by those in authority or those with more significant experience, even when asked to voice their opinions.
  • The transition from student life to work life or to the corporate world isn’t easy for anyone. Those whose culture, native language, and life experiences are different than the majority of salaried employees face additional, unique challenges. This requires that managers and members of human resources departments place an extra effort in making the transition smooth for international professionals.
  • Balancing career and leisurely activities is another challenge. Maintaining friendships, accepting family support, and getting involved in professional associations will help ease the balancing act.

From the perspective of Tao Wang, a University of Florida law student specializing in tax law:

“The teaching method used in U.S. law schools is more interactive compared to that of China. Professors call on students to answer the question and state your own analysis and legal arguments that support your position. This sometimes intimidates many international students, who might be afraid to speak up in class.”

Wang worked in Shanghai, China, as a senior advisor in PwC Shanghai. He advised enterprises around the world to make investments in China.He also counseled Chinese companies on investing in other jurisdictions, including the United States. He offers the following suggestions to international students.

“Make sufficient preparation before the class to understand and get familiar with the topics of the upcoming class and go over again after the classes. The discussion is really a good way to get involved in the class and connected with classmates and professors, so be confident and do not be shy!” said Wang.

From the standpoint of a financial professional, Dwight Hulse, founder and CEO of D.L. Hulse Consulting states, “In terms of an international person from Belize leading a growing CFO Advisory Services company in Gainesville, one thing that comes to mind as something here to get accustomed to is the significance of the personal relationship prior to doing business with someone. Back home and in Central America, business is done among close friends, or if that person is not known to you, they are introduced to you based on reputation.”

Hulse continues, “Meanwhile, here in the U.S., business owners put a lot more trust in those written agreements and less importance to the prior personal relationship. However, I still trust my sixth sense and do my due diligence to be comfortable prior to engaging.”

Regardless of obstacles, studying and living in a foreign country offers international students and professionals numerous opportunities to learn, grow, and successfully practice their chosen occupation.

By Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson is the proprietor of Ceremonial Speeches, a speech writing & presentation consulting service.

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