Yingmin (Grace) Li is an international student from China in her senior year at Michigan State University studying Supply Chain Management. She has had a number of experiences that have contributed to her professional development during her college career. Between classes, tutoring, and internships, Grace has been busy growing her skills and preparing for her future. Her hard work and dedication paid off, landing her a full time position with PwC upon graduating. So how did Grace do it? In our interview with her she tells all- from preparing for a job to utilizing on-campus resources. Get the inside scope on how to successfully prepare, find and maintain a job.
“Be brave and share your ideas with your classmates. Contribute everything you can for a group and maintain good relationships.”
Whether we want to believe it or not, GPA does matters. Maintaining a high GPA is important, especially when applying for jobs because that’s one of the first things recruiters look at. Sometimes they want students to have a certain GPA or else they won’t even consider them. Grace mentioned that some students get a full-time job after interviewing if they have a high GPA. Good GPA’s can take students to Graduate school too. Grace also shared with us her strategies to keeping up with academics.
- Study on your own. Group studies lead to people chatting and not getting work done.
- Go to professor’s office hours.
- Resource center and tutoring services are free and really helpful.
- The writing center is a good place to go or other free tutoring sessions in neighborhoods.
Building Your Skills
Before Grace could apply for internships, she knew she had to gain more experience in order to expand her skillset. She started by working on-campus in the cafeteria in order to improve her communication skills.
“I would always go talk to someone first so I could have a conversation with them and practice my oral skills,” she explained. “Communication skills are the basics for everything you do.”
Aside from her on-campus job, Grace also volunteered as an underclassman at a local elementary school, was an ambassador for MSU’s Career Fair and offered free tutoring for a Chinese class. Grace found these opportunities by asking around and through MSU’s student service resources. In the spring of 2014, Grace began tutoring marketing statistics students on campus up to ten hours a week through the Multicultural Business Program at MSU.
Additionally, Grace also took the opportunity to become actively involved in student organizations on-campus. She is a member of the Supply Chain Management Association, Multicultural Business Association and Leadership Institute at MSU. Joining these groups on-campus gave Grace the basics for networking.
“Being involved in groups on campus is good for your resume and for finding a job,” Said Grace.
Her involvement on campus gave Grace an advantage when applying for jobs and helped her build skills that she will use for her future.
The interview process isn’t the same for every employer but Grace was able to provide details of her experience interviewing with PwC. Initially, Grace had a one-on-one interview with them on campus. Then Grace got called in to go for a second interview that took place on site at PwC. The on site interview consisted of three rounds. The two rounds were very basic and contained behavioral questions. One round, however, was much different. In this round Grace was given a case about temporary worker issues and she had 45 minutes to prepare ideas on how to resolve these issues, which she then had to present. When you go in for an interview you don’t always know what to expect so it’s important to prepare. Grace used a number of resources to help her get ready for her interview. First she looked up interview skills and techniques online. She found the website GlassDoor helpful because people post about their past interviews so she was able to get an idea of what to expect. Before an interview it’s crucial to research the company and know their missions. And lastly, practice makes perfect. “I had previous interviews that didn’t work but those helped me prepare for this one,” Grace noted.
Grace got her first internship in January of her junior year at MSU with the company Magna Mirrors, an international supplier to the automotive industry and one of the largest manufacturers of automotive mirror and vision systems. Magna Mirrors is located in Holland, Michigan where Grace was hired in as a paid, part-time Materials Management Intern. She received a referral, which helped her land this internship. Grace managed inventory and production scheduling as well as coordinating shipments between plants and handling anything else related to materials. During her 2014 spring semester, Grace was taking 12 credits while commuting back and forth to Holland for her internship. She said overall that she liked the internship and the commute wasn’t that bad.
Once Grace’s spring semester was over, Magna Mirrors offered Grace a full-time internship with them for the summer. Grace accepted their offer and picked up her things in East Lansing and relocated to the west side of Michigan for the duration of her internship. Upon completing her Magna Mirrors internship, Grace received a new internship opportunity as a Supply Chain Intern in downtown Lansing with Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which offers resources for companies interested in doing business in Michigan. Grace found out about this internship on MySpartanCareer and applied through the website. One of Grace’s favorite things about her internship was that she could actually apply her supply chain management skills that she learned in her classes. She also appreciated her good relationships with her friendly co-workers and managers by saying, “It was really valuable for me.” Her co-workers helped Grace gain confidence in her work.
Navigating the Workplace
With any job, there will be challenges to overcome in order to grow and succeed. Graced shared some of the struggles she faced at first as an intern. “I was kind of shy and didn’t know how to network,” she said. “That was the most difficult thing for me in my first internship but in my second internship I think I was fine.” She continued saying,
Networking is a very important tool to have in the workplace that can help you advance in your career. Grace also mentioned, “Sometimes they [co-workers] were joking around and using words I don’t understand. There was a language barrier but I’m improving.” Language barriers can sometimes make it more difficult to network but Grace has improved her skills greatly thanks to her internship experiences.