Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Recent Grad Shares Tips on How to Thrive as an International Student at USF

by Melody Kim, USF News

Anson Tan ’23, finance and business analytics graduate, talks about internships, the International Student Association, and the appeal of San Francisco.

Tell us about your internships.

I interned last summer with Deloitte and the summer before with KPMG. KPMG gave me a full-time offer but it was based in Singapore, and I wanted to work in the U.S. Then, after my internship with Deloitte, they also gave me a full-time offer to work here, so I’ll be starting in September as an audit associate in San Francisco.

How did you get your internship?

I had a lot of previous experiences on my resume, like my internship at KPMG and through my on-campus job doing finance and accounting in the Events Management Office. I closed out a few million dollars in transactions for the school for the fiscal year. It was a great experience.

How can other international students find these opportunities?

Join the International Student Association! [Tan is former president of the ISA.] International students cannot work off campus, so these on-campus positions are super crucial. In ISA, we’re trying to build partnerships with departments on campus such that an international student can refer another international student when a position opens up. It’s better to be in a hive community where you know how to look for jobs and internships or know which companies are hiring international students.

For example, within Bon Appetit [USF’s on-site food service company] we’ve helped some international students get jobs both in the customer-facing side and the back end. We’re really trying to create a referral pathway to success for international students so that their skills translate off campus.

What kinds of jobs should international students look for?

Focus on employers who value your international student experience, your diversity, and your culture. You can apply to a bunch of companies, but if there’s no way they’re going to hire you, it’s hard to change their mind. All international students are facing these issues, no matter what school you go to.

Many companies don’t know how the visa/immigration process works. I’ve had offers made to me that were rescinded when they found out I was an international student. I asked myself … would I really be happy there? I want to work somewhere that values me as an international student.

What have you learned from your internships?

How your team is crucial to your success. I had a tough time my freshman year, and there were times where I was not doing well. It was hard being alone here as an international student and initially not having a stable place to stay. My manager knew that. She called me one day and said, “Anson, if you need a place to stay, just say a word and I’ll find a place for you on campus to stay until you are ready.” I was touched. She genuinely cared about me outside of work and wanted me to grow as a person.

What’s it like to work in San Francisco?

Working at Deloitte in SF is very different from working in Asia. Here, they really care about you. One time I responded to an email at 11 p.m. The next day, my manager asked if I was OK and asked why I had responded to her email after office hours. It’s about establishing healthy boundaries, which is not something I was accustomed to doing.

The culture in San Francisco places emphasis on your well-being and care for the whole person: cura personalis. It’s not just about what you can do and your performance, like in other countries. It’s more open and welcoming. San Francisco is one of the best places to be.

Any words of advice for future international students?

You have a support system here at USF within the International Student Association and the International Student and Scholar Services. We can support you in whatever you want to do: Open a bank account, get a credit card or a driver’s license. We can help you establish an identity here so you’re not left behind. We will keep passing on knowledge and opportunities and helping each other out.