Michigan Ross MBA Students Start New Student Organization to Benefit International Students
Recognizing that international students can sometimes face a far more difficult and stressful recruiting process, a group of second-year MBA students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business decided to launch Culture Shock. By offering the opportunity for role-playing, sharing tips on dealing with specific situations, and providing one-on-one chats, the new student organization hopes to take the added challenges faced by international students out of the recruiting process.
The idea for Culture Shock was developed by Taylor Johnson (MBA ’18) while she was chatting with her international student friends during her Amazon internship. As Johnson wrote in a Ross blog: “The challenges of recruiting are often amplified for those coming from other cultures, especially for non-native speakers. If it was hard for me, it was even harder for international students.” So, together with fellow second-year MBA students Abhi Das and Parker Caldwell, Johnson launched Culture Shock to help mitigate the differences.
How students approach networking, for example, can vary significantly by culture. Johnson recognized that for many of her Latin American classmates, speaking with potential employers was far more informal and focused on conversation and connections. And then there were other international students for whom promoting themselves was not culturally appropriate. In both instances, networking in American—where self-promotion is essential and exchanges with potential employers are more to the point than conversational—left these international students at a disadvantage.
Culture Shock is all about helping international students learn to recognize and adjust to the unspoken rules of American recruiting by learning from the personal experiences of their fellow MBA students. During each session the group has held since its early September launch, between 15 and 20 international students have come to learn from more than 55 second-year MBA students.
But the purpose of Culture Shock extends beyond recruiting. “This isn’t just ‘Here’s how to recruit in America,’” explained Johnson. “This is about valuing each other’s culture and helping our international peers bring forth the richness of diversity in the recruiting process.”
“We’re at an interesting time in our country and diversity is really important,” Johnson added. “The more that we can support that, the better off we’ll all be as people, and the better off our community will be as a whole.”