Meet the co-founders of Beloit International Students Career Services
Dedication, Passion and Commitment: Meet The Three Co-founders of Beloit International Students Career Services (BISCS)
Imagine this: You are from a foreign country, and one day you decide you want to pursue higher education in the US. Exciting, right, because you have heard America is a nice place with a lot of opportunities. Amazing as this may sound, when you actually arrive, you are faced with many challenges. Why is the English not as easily audible as in your textbook? Why do the customs take so long in O’hare Airport?
Coming from 40 different countries, Beloit international students are introduced to a small liberal arts college, which feels alien to many. While there are resources available on campus to help them navigate the difference, resources for career exploration are insufficient, even with the existence of the Liberal Arts in Practice Center (LAPC) and the Office of International Education (OIE.) Realizing this need, three amazing students have recently teamed up to form Beloit International Students Career Services (BISCS.) Let’s hear their stories.
Q: Good afternoon. Could you introduce yourself?
Yong: Hi, my name is Yong. I’m from Singapore. I graduated in 2017 with a CRIS major and a Anthropology minor. I’m doing an honors term this year. In BISCS, I’m the co-founder with Emily and Linh Anh.
Emily: Hi my name is Emily Liu but my Chinese name is Lu Liu. I’m from Beijing, China. I graduated last semester with double majors in Maths and Economics. I’m also the co-founder of this organization.
Linh Anh: Hi I’m Linh Anh, from Hanoi, Vietnam. I’m a sophomore, with Business Economics and Education double majors. I’m the co-founder and also the organization manager with these two.
Q: So how did this organization come into being?
L.A: This idea felt pretty personal to me. During my winter break trip to California, I met a guy from Vietnam. He talked about his struggle in obtaining the H-1B visa after he graduated from university, and I realized I will be struggling with these stuffs too. In Beloit, I recognize that a lot of staff and faculty try really hard to provide international students with information but there is something missing here. So, having a network where international alumni help international students will be really helpful. After I returned from the trip, I came directly to LAPC and Jessica Fox-Wilson helped me a lot in envisioning the organization. She also helped me find these two wonderful partners.
E: I’m actually the one who connected the other two together. My project for my honors term was about international alumni so when I talked to Jessica Fox-Wilson at the LAPC, she said Linh Anh was also planning to have a networking event for international students. I thought that was such a great idea, so we talked. I also had a chance to talk with Yong about our projects because we both focus on international students’ experiences and how to improve them. After talking with both of them separately, we finally decided to come together and found BISCS.
Y: My approach was a little different. During the first part of my honors term project last semester, I found out what the struggles are among the current international students. When I decided to extend my honors term, I thought maybe now is the time to apply what I learned about the international student population. Thus, I could organize events and provide them with resources to help them succeed at Beloit College. I was then introduced to Linh Anh and Emily and from there we started this organization.
After graduating from college, many international students have the chance to stay in the US up to 12 months to work in the fields that relate to their study disciplines on OPT visa. To extend this period, students need to find companies that sponsor them for the H-1B visa, which allows them to stay up to six years. They have to deal with many cumbersome processes in maintaining a non-resident alien status. Yong, Emily and Linh Anh really take their own and their fellows’ experiences in mind when starting the organization.
Q: Has your vision for this organization changed at all since you started?
Y: Honestly, at first I only thought we would hold a series of events, not doing it as a legitimate organization. The fact that now we can be organized, with 13 members working in different teams, having different responsibilities and reaching out to different departments feels really good to me. Having two motivated, efficients partners beside me has helped us work very fast and productively since late January till now in April.
E: I really wanted to do something, or at least try to do something for international students with international alumni before I left Beloit College. Many international students talked to me at the beginning [of this organization] about whether I can organize such an event, if I could invite many international alumni back to campus? It was hard but like Yong said, we have come so far and we really want to do this.
L.A: For me it did change a lot. At first I thought I might do monthly alumni events, focusing on different majors every month. But I realized it took a lot of effort to get people’s attention to these events. Then when I met Emily and Yong, I felt like we could somehow do it. Since our initial purpose was to connect with people from all majors, I feel like we are getting closer. I want to help international students see that if they know about the story of someone who has managed to stay in the US with their major, then they will have more faith in themselves as well.
In the last three months, BISCS co-founders have been preoccupied. Early March, they had their first event called “Students Helping Students,” where seniors and juniors meet and share their experiences with current international freshmen and sophomores. That event attracted 40 students. Jessica Fox-Wilson (from the LAPC) was an honorary guest, where she came to introduce international students how to make use of the resources for job exploration. It was a successful first event and fueled the three organizers to continue working.
Q: I know we talk a bit about this but how does it feel working alongside each other? Is there anything that you learn from one another?
E: I’m a very strict person when I’m working. I always go straight to the point, for example I want to know exactly how many people we need for our events. When we are working, though, Linh Anh and I argue a lot (laugh.) Linh Anh is a creative person and she brings a lot of ideas to the table. Often time, we argue about those ideas a lot. Yong works really well with all the paperwork and she usually has to negotiate between me and Linh Anh.
Y: Well, even though I’m older than them I feel like they all have valuable experiences and ideas. They are both really smart. I’m learning a lot from them, most of which I didn’t know before. Working with them has allowed me to see how their different majors enable them to think differently from how I usually do. Also, it made me see how their academic backgrounds help them write in a different way from what I usually do. And all of that contributes to the valuable work that we produce.
L.A: I always feel a sense of encouragement when I work with them. I can be creative, but sometimes I’m not confident about doing it. So, they really encourage me to be committed to the work I’m doing and it feels really cool. Honestly, I have not had this opportunity in my past experiences so I am really happy.
BISCS is a new organization but they have gone a long way. At the start, Emily, Yong and Linh Anh had to reach out to different offices to ask for help but not all of them responded positively. But what they do till now is partly to prove to those with the idea that this organization is not practical and doable. “If nobody persists in doing this, Beloit College will not have a networking event and an overall assistance for international students,” said Emily.
Q: What do you want people to take away from the work you do?
Y: The words that come to my mind that I want people to have also is commitment, dedication and passion [of the members.] The students involved in this organization have the drive to help students like themselves. They are in a vulnerable situation because of their status, so their dedication and passion are really important aspects making who they are.
On April 28th, BISCS will have their next big event called “Global Beloiters: International Alumni Reception.” This event will feature a panel discussion with alumni, a Google Hangout for people who cannot make it back to Beloit physically and a dinner between students and professors. This will be the first ever event in Beloit College that caters to both international students and career orientation, so BISCS co-founders have many things to look forward to.
Y: This is such a grand scale event we are preparing. Some of the alumni graduated five or six years ago and are in really high positions, so I really hope we could carry this event out in a professional and successful way. And with that, I hope the institution can look at this event and support us more in the future.
L.A: Not only for this event but for the whole organization, I just want to tell international students one thing. Whether their experiences are positive are negative, all international students’ experiences are valuable and they are always welcomed to be back to Beloit and share their advice. I want all alumni to feel appreciated through this event, and through many other events we have in the future.
Q: Thank you for spending time with me for this interview! Good luck with your future work!
“Global Beloiters” was a success, attracting over 80 people, including professors, staff, alumni and current students. It was great seeing everyone back to Beloit for a day, being inspirational and giving encouragement to students. If you could, please check out BISCS’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/beloit.BISCS/ for more updates on Global Beloiters and many more of their future events.
*Linh Nguyen is a member of BISCS’ Alumni & Communications and Marketing Team.