As the summer months roll around, new graduates across the world share similar feelings of joy, excitement and anxiety at the end of their academic journey. For a certain group of students, however, the journey is a bit more literal. International graduates experience more choices than many in these last few months, and this article is meant to shed light on those choices and help those who choose to stay abroad.

I was an international student from Istanbul, Turkey until this May when I graduated and decided to stay in Boston, MA, USA where I went to college in Boston University. Prior to coming to college, I had never been to the States. Neither did I have family here helping me to acclimatize or to help me with the process. Currently, I work in a Legal Consulting firm as the Associate Marketing Director.

For all the students who are still in college and not graduating anytime soon, keep reading! All of these tips can benefit from an early start.

Purple flowerFirstly, the biggest issue many students face right after college is that their support network they have been building in the four years they have been here virtually disappears. Without the safety net of college, without parents, and with most of your friends still being college age, many young adults are finding themselves out of their comfort zone without anywhere to turn.

Moreover, without these contacts it is very hard to differentiate yourself from the masses of graduates that leave college every year. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses given to you by your status is crucial in surviving this transitionary period. Emphasizing your strengths and knowing how to counter your weaknesses plays a huge role in your conversations with potential employers.

Although the exact circumstances that define your situation may differ from country to country and to person to person, the simple truth is that a majority of people got their job by having an “in” to the industry. With unemployment levels still high and the universities pumping out qualified talent every year, being qualified based on merit is just not enough for the current job market.

As a recent grad, you have three assets: knowledge, skills and network.

Your education gives you the first, you have to bring the second, and you have to build the third.

Start wellTo give you a head start, every international student has two strengths – your local nationality’s network and the power to create interesting conversations. If you are in a big city, there must be other people from your country currently around you. They would like to help you because they have been in your shoes and know how grateful they would have been. Or, you can use your nationality to create interesting conversations. Indeed, most of my professional networking dialogues start with people telling me how much they love Turkish delight. You need to be able to spin that into an agreement on a multinational outside counsel request for proposal.

Besides national strengths, networking events, connecting with supervisors and making people believe in your determination to stay are all essential to creating your support network after college. Finally, don’t forget to send follow up emails and connect on LinkedIn after meetings, it is key to a sustained relationship!

If you are in a major industrialized economy like the UK or the US, one thing you are going to come across a lot is your credit score. A major mistake a lot of graduates do (and believe me I did) was ignoring the economic side of things until I graduated. However, a credit score takes a while to build up and you can start anytime. If you are too late, it might be next to impossible for you to get a loan, a house or go through a background check with your employer that inevitably happens after graduating.

Getting these becomes especially difficult without a co-signer or co-payer. The best way to build credit is starting early. Learn the rules of your local economy and tax system, abide by the rules, stay in touch with your advisors (your school should have someone who can help) and double check everything. Even official employees may misunderstand your troubles or are too exhausted to deal with your specific issues. You cannot afford to make a mistake when you are balancing many deadlines at the same time.

Lastly, the sad truth is that stereotypes are still alive and well in the 21st Century. Some jobs may be an outright no, many others are very hard to get. Government jobs are generally not possible, e.g. military, federal hospitals, law. This is due to the confidential nature of the work as well as many grants’ secondary objective of providing employment for the citizens of the country.

However, in many other areas the reason an employer may not want an international employee is only based on fear of increased fees or the paperwork of sponsorship. To appease that, creating trust is essential. You can and should explain that you are willing to carry the costs and the paperwork if they refuse to sponsor you right away. For many companies, it can be actually cost effective since they only have to pay average rate in many countries. It is important to explain that coming from far away will give you a unique perspective on things, increasing the value added you create.

Whether you are just starting your college journey, or ending undergraduate life, the tips above can help you get a foothold in that country. Most of these tips are globally applicable to someone who is trying to engage themselves into local societal values and processes. Hopefully, these will help you understand and deal with some of the key issues surrounding a new culture and environment as you establish connections. Even with these tips, moving to a new country is still hard, but worth it if you are willing to go the distance!

Here is a quote from work to guide you in your journey:

The difference between success and failure is not IQ, educational pedigree, or experience (or citizenship) – it’s about motivation, organization, and self-discipline. We hope you embrace the challenge ahead!

James Ozturk is from Istanbul, Turkey, He went to Boston University in Boston, MA and is now working at Argopoint, LLC. More of his work can be found in Matter Management.