[On Sundays, Career Calling explores intersections of work & life in “Sabbath.”]
Last Friday I volunteered as a résumé coach at the National Conference of NSHMBA, the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. The event, held at McCormick Place in Chicago, was sponsored by some of the country’s leading companies (State Farm, Humana, the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business). While many of the attendees were early in their careers, people of all ages – and all ethnic groups – attended the convention. (NSHMBA welcomes people from all backgrounds).
I met some clients who were still defining their career goals. Their challenge was to present themselves as professionals, not students. Some other job seekers I met had more experience. They sought positions in management or complex technical industries. They asked questions about how to represent their skills at a higher level. They targeted specific positions with industry leaders, including Citibank and Dell.
Several of the people I met were international students, hailing from Brazil, Mexico, Indian, and Taiwan. While their levels of professional experience and education varied, they held in common a strong will to succeed. They came to this conference to move their careers forward.
More importantly, they all were attending or had completed MBA programs or other graduate programs from American universities. This country still attracts people who want to learn at the best schools, and it is to America’s credit that it welcomes students from all corners of the world. Some of the students I met wanted to stay in the U.S. Others planned to work in their native countries. More importantly, almost everyone I met believed their career would involve global business, not a local or regional assignment. They welcomed the challenge of a world with open borders.
Some of our politicians and pundits want to close borders. They have condemned immigrants as a threat to America’s future. We often hear the same rhetoric coming from Europe. Politicians like Senator David Vitter produce commercials with immigrants from Mexico entering the country as if they are looking to commit a crime or get a handout. This kind of politics plays on the fear of voters in a period of high unemployment and home foreclosures. Fear drives people to look for a boogeyman, someone to blame and cast out.
The men and women I met at NSHMBA didn’t have time for such narrow thinking. They were asking questions about management, finance, marketing, human resources, and even artificial intelligence. They focused on the future and welcomed change. They are the kind of young people that will move America – and the world – forward because they face problems and solve them. They aren’t here to chase the American Dream. Their talent and energy will renew that dream.