3.1. Language

As a foreign student, chances are your first language is not English. This leaves you at a big disadvantage in one of the most sought-after business skills: interpersonal communication. After successfully taking the TOEFL, and completing a two year graduate program, you surely know enough English to conduct business; however, to speak as a native (if you ever will) is going to take several years of working and living in the US.

How to overcome:

Talk, talk, and talk. Get out of your comfort zone and talk. Participate in class – you will probably make a lot of mistakes and even embarrass yourself, but it is only a class – it is better to do it there (where both students and professors understand your language barriers) than at work (where customers and co-workers may be less understanding). Volunteer to make presentations. Do not hesitate to ask questions, and to be critical of other people’s ideas.

Get together with Americans. Sure you want to hang out with other people from your country with which you have so much in common (language, food, music, entertainment). The problem is you will speak your native language most of the time, while you should be working on your English. Spending time with Americans is the best way to pick up idioms and slang.

Take advantage of communication courses. Most business schools offer courses on oral communications, presentations, culture, and the like. Don’t miss them – they will probably contribute more to your career than more appealing Finance or Marketing courses.

Join the clubs. Specifically those who encourage participation. A very useful one is the Toastmasters or similar speaker’s associations – they are great for practicing speaking and meeting people.

In conclusion, if you want to succeed in your job-search, focus primarily on oral communication skills.