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Language I/O Co-Founder Shares Career Advice as Part of Babson College Consortium

August 2, 2018

IMG_20180718_104724 (002).jpgLanguage I/O Co-Founders Heather Morgan Shoemaker and Kaarina Kvaavik get a lot of credit for their own business ingenuity—after all, they built a multilingual customer service software company on their own. However, like all entrepreneurs, some great influencers helped Shoemaker and Kvaavik hone the skills that landed them where they are today. This is why mentorship is so important to Shoemaker and Kvaavik. 

In an effort to continue giving back through mentorship, Kvaavik joined the MBA/MS Boston Career Consortium at Babson College for its annual Professional Development Day on Wednesday July 18 for a little face-time with its MBA student advisors. The intent of the day was to give students inside perspective on the recruitment process. As part of the “Start-ups/Scale-Ups & Technology Panel,” Kvaavik spoke with students about hiring, negotiating and the tech skills gap. 

“I always enjoy engaging with students and the professionals who are working to help those students as they move into their careers,” Kvaavik said. “It’s rewarding to share some of what I’ve learned as the co-founder of a startup with them."

The panel covered significant ground. Babson Senior Associate Director of the Graduate Center for Career Development Lily Awad, compiled the following story about the day:

There is no doubt that insights directly from the employer will benefit business students as they navigate their academic career and, in turn, their place in the workforce. Here are the top four “golden nuggets” from the panelists that every business student should know:

1. What Tech Tools Should I Know to Land the Job? All recruiters agreed that you don’t need to have a computer science or engineering background to land a business role within a tech firm. That said, thirst for learning, the ability to pick new skills up quickly and resourcefulness are things they are all seeking in candidates. Specifically, recruiters discussed the importance of social media (e.g. Facebook Ads) and video expertise for marketing positions. Advanced Excel skills also came up quite frequently with the ability to create pivot tables, macros, and more (especially for analytics roles). Having a broad understanding of digital presence, web design and coding also came up as a beneficial piece to working, not only cross-functionally, but with clients. What if you don’t have experience with one or more of these tools? The panel unanimously says, “figure it out.” Use free on-line learning tools offered through your school (for example, Babson students have access to Lynda courses), download free trials and, yes, watch a YouTube video. At the end of the day, your resourcefulness and ability to get the job done will help your resume travel to the top of the stack!

2. How Do You Make It Past the First Interview? Be passionate about the company and be passionate for the job you’re interviewing for. If you go into an interview unprepared and not knowledgeable about the company, the recruiter will figure it out. Furthermore, understand where you fit in the company. If you are conducting an informational interview with a recruiter at a company you’re interested in, come prepared with a job (or two) that resonates with you. Often, students meet with a recruiter and then expect the recruiter to place them based on what they know about that individual’s background. The consensus was not to do that! As Holly Peterson of HubSpot says: “Don’t say you don’t know what you want to do, find something and talk about it.”  However, all panelists agreed that candidates need to be realistic. If you have zero management experience, do not expect to go after a management role. At the same time, align your salary expectations with what you’re seeing in the market as well as your qualifications. Remember, there are plenty of tools you can leverage to conduct salary research and CCD is here to help!

3. How is this Generation of New Workers Different from the Past? According to the panelists, younger candidates are no longer chasing high salaries. Rather, today’s young professional looks for flexibility including remote work, unlimited vacation time, and bring your dog to work days! Recruiters will ask what is important to you so be prepared to answer that question with some solid reasoning as to why. Startups are finding that fewer young professionals understand their options when equity is being offered. Again, doing one’s research and preparing to answer these questions ahead of time is key. In addition, if accepting a position in Massachusetts understand your rights under the newly passed MA Equal Pay Law. 

4. What Advice Do You Have for International Students Who Wish to Pursue a US Job Search? First and foremost, understand your visa status. You should know how you can legally work in the U.S. and what your visa options are for post-grad. As Miki Feldman Simon put it, “You need to know how to talk about your visa status because a lot of HR people and most hiring managers don’t understand what it all means.” Luckily, for Babson students you have access to Immigration Attorneys who visit campus frequently for talks on Post-Grad Visa Options. In addition, Grad CCD has put an immigration toolkit together including a video with an immigration attorney that addresses the H1B visa process. Always make sure you consult professional legal advice when you have questions about work authorization. Another piece of advice was to stay within the realm of what you know. If you have a technical background coupled with your business degree, look for roles where you can leverage your tech savvy. In short, those who seek visa sponsorship should not be chasing work in a new industry and functional area.

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