A New Home – Never Lose Hope

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“If I can do it what is stopping you”?

I felt an unexpected cold strike my entire body when it was time to depart from my beloved country of the Dominican Republic, an island so tiny, but immense in my heart and memories. Maybe it was my defensive mentality as a 14 year-old that made me believe the lie that I was going on a nice vacation looking forward to coming back home someday soon.

However, destiny made me realize that the meaning of home would change in a matter of seconds when that airplane reached its destination that many called “the land of freedom”. When we landed my mind was full of pessimist ideas that would not let me see the positive view of coming to this country. For starters, it made me feel like a traitor leaving my family behind after all these years that they have been taking care of me. Further, that everything that was said sounded simply too good to be true. Arriving into the promise land where all your dreams could become a reality without knowing the truth of how much suffering goes into accomplishing them. Furthermore, I still have tremendous weight on my shoulders. It started at a very young age because I was trying to make my family proud but also to fulfill my own internal drive. That drive and hunger to surpass any goal that people expected from me to make my family proud.

Now looking back at my progression in since arriving in this country I feel so proud to represent the positive impact immigrants can bring when they come to this country with good intentions. Many other people might bend but you cannot break. You have to fight for what you believe in to accomplish your dreams and to reach your full potential.

If a pretty regular guy like me made it, what’s holding you back? Go fight for your dreams don’t let anyone stop you from it. Have courage to reach for the moon so you end up among the stars. Put all your focus on achieving that goal, degree, or anything extraordinary in your life because if I could do it, you can do it too! Have courage and just believe in yourself.

Guest Blogger: Enmanuel Moya, Torch Scholar Student.

What is Informational Interviewing?

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So you’re a Northeastern student, full of vim and vigor and enthusiasm for the future. You’ve got classes and co-ops under your belt, and you feel prepared for the working world. But if you’re like most students, you haven’t discovered one of the most potent secrets of career success. What is this magical secret, you wonder? It’s a little something called “informational interviewing.”

What is Informational Interviewing?

It’s only the most useful career-building tool you’ll encounter. The basic gist is that you will reach out to professionals in the industry and set up interviews with them. Instead of the interviews you’re used to, YOU will be the one asking the questions! It’s the best way to network and gain insider industry knowledge at the same time! And your mom thought you were useless at multitasking! Oh how wrong she was.

The Power of Asking

There are two secrets why informational interviews work:

  • People love to talk about themselves.
  • People love to help college students.

At first, I was skeptical. Who would take time out from their busy schedule to shoot the breeze with a bumbling college student who barely knows what to do with her life after graduation? I reached out to professionals at ten different companies, expecting to bug them a week later in an attempt to set up two or three meetings if I was lucky. Au contraire! To my surprise, almost everyone replied immediately! And they wanted to help me! And all I had to do was ask. Many have referred to this as the Ben Franklin effect (see here).

You’ve probably heard this statistic before: 80% of job openings are unlisted, and are filled through word of mouth. With those kinds of odds, how can you afford not to network? Informational interviewing is a great way to start!

Blending Intercultural Workspaces

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The day of a regular working professional generally passes through a few common phases; namely the first half period, the post-lunch era and then the countdown-towards freedom! Surprisingly, or not, this is a common phenomenon across geographies! So, whether you’re a professional working in a developing market or an executive from one of the first world countries, human resources experience anxiety, boredom, interest and relief all throughout the same day. In order to break the monotony, more and more organizations arrange for some activity or the other like motivated Mondays and casual Fridays, just so that there is a positive buzz in the work space.

However, the matter of contention here is how different society’s (read cultures) perceive and tackle such situations. Although people may be trained in different areas of expertise, the training only focuses on enhancing the task, activity or output required of resources to deliver. No matter how experienced one may be, there is always a difference in culture that has an overarching influence in the day-to-day engagement of employees. This cultural difference can only be bridged when one spends more time in the existing culture and eventually blends into the system at large.

Key Comparisons

For a broader understanding of the differences, let’s club up the cultures as Eastern and Western. It is intriguing to recognize that despite the same experiences encountered by professionals on either side, they’re guided by completely different philosophies when they try to bridge this rather obvious gap in work cultures.

1. Organizational structures – Flexible vs Tall:
In most Eastern cultures, organizational hierarchies are well-defined. Instructions, orders and demands flow in a downward direction. The supervisor finds himself in greater capacity to delegate or even, at times, dictate terms to junior employees within the organization. Questions pertaining to work, if any, are seldom posed freely by the employees and even rarer cases are posed verbally. If there is a matter that needs to be discussed, supervisors and subordinates do so discreetly being fully aware of their social and work boundaries.
However, when we survey the situation in the West, the workplace seems to be slightly more democratic in nature. Questions from subordinates to the top management are appreciated. They’re considered as engaging because questions lead to refinement of the systems in place. And, communication is a two-way street.
But, in both the cultures, more often than not, it’s the ‘boss’ who generally has the last word in the discussion.

2. Addressing colleagues:
It is quite common in many workplaces in the Indian sub-continent for junior employees to address supervisors with suffixes such as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ or ‘Saheb’ or ‘Ji’. This approach isn’t necessarily frowned upon or considered as taking one’s designation too seriously but it is a part of their culture where elders and seniors, both in age and hierarchy, are bestowed with a certain degree of respect.
Which is why it is slightly awkward for people from Eastern cultures working in the West in an environment where everyone in the organization is on a first name basis; even, the CEO.
But what needs to be recognized that in both cultures there is a high degree of professionalism and work ethic regardless of the manner in which one address his or her colleague or supervisor in the workplace.

3. Flow of discussing business transactions:
Businesses in the East find it necessary to find some sort of a common ground with their partners prior to going ahead and transacting business. This common ground may be anything ranging from having the same favorite sports team to having similar ethnic roots. This makes both parties comfortable in each other’s company and makes it easier for them to talk about collaborating businesses activities. Many businesses feel free to negotiate and re-negotiate terms of transactions even if the parties involved in the transaction have just reached a consensus on the same. They can do it because they’ve developed a comfortable understanding of their business approaches.
Most professionals working in the West follow a structured pattern when transacting business. They follow a linear format of discussion wherein once the parties have reached a consensus on a particular matter, that point is sealed and they move on to the next point on the agenda.
Both methods have their peculiarities, while one may believe the Eastern philosophy to be time-consuming and confusing, some may believe that the Western philosophy is distant and nonchalant.

Way Forward

It is needless to say that geographic boundaries are shrinking. Brands seemed to have dissolved the concept of what was previously ‘foreign’ because they have seamlessly integrated with the local fabric of things. Organizations have realized the shortcomings of ethnocentric and polycentric staffing and have graduated to geocentric staffing. The focus is now on recognizing different cultures and blending them to create an inclusive and innovative work culture.