- Welcome back to The Story Behind the Story series. When I put a call for contributions a few weeks ago, I anticipated publishing mainly writers’ stories, but within a day from my post, I got an e-mail from Li asking whether she could contribute, and I said yes. She speaks passionately about her ‘why’ as a career coach. Coincidentally, the theme of immigrants which came up in Nicky Tate’s post last week is continued here, but from a slightly different angle.
As a career coach focused on helping immigrants, a large part of what I do is to help people like me who had come from a new country to the US finally fulfill their American Dream–living the life they’ve dreamt of whether it includes a house or a business of their own or simply living in safety and knowing that with hard work they can achieve anything.
When I was 10 years old I arrived in the US from China, knowing 2 phrases in English but a big dream about what I could accomplish. I went into a Catholic school where I was the only immigrant in the entire 300+ student body, and I hustled to make sure that I learned English. While it took about 2 years to fully master the language, it took me much longer to become confident and adapted to the culture.
While my big why is to help people like me, there are three reasons why I do what I do.
Reason #1: Helping Immigrants Achieve The American Dream
One of the biggest turning points in my career was when I was able to help my TOEFL student land a job as a pharmacy technician. Mohammad was a pharmacy owner back in Iran. While he was incredibly hard working and qualified, he never felt that he could get another job after being fired from his first one.
Within a few weeks after I coached him on how to present himself on his resumes and interviews, he landed a job as a pharmacy tech. It was incredible to have literally changed somebody’s life and I realized that beyond just teaching English, the immigrants that I served wanted to use the tool of language to get a better job.
So that inspired me to become a career coach and today I’m happy to say that I’ve assisted immigrants to get their H-1B visas, which enables them to stay in the US legally while being sponsored by their employer.
Reason #2: Helping Immigrants Sell Themselves
The incredible thing about immigrants to the US is that usually they are the creme of the crop in their home country. What often happens is that they have all the expertise from their home country, but when they come to the US they experience a drop in confidence, almost as if they were children, because they went from experts to beginners again.
One of the most important lessons I learned as a career coach was that these immigrants THINK that they need more education, when in fact they need more ability to sell themselves–on resumes and interviews. These are highly educated professionals with masters degrees and MBAs in fields like finance and tech who are literally changing their world, but because they cannot answer “Tell me about yourself” in the most fluent fashion, are rejected. My mission is to support them in gaining confidence to sell themselves to companies that need their help.
Reason #3: Calling to Serve My Global Audience
I don’t think it’s an accident that I was called to come to America. When I was 10, my mother asked me whether or not I wanted to join her in the US after my parents’ divorce, and I said yes to the new environment.
Today, I am really glad I took that step because it gave me an opportunity to start a global business. While my clients are mostly in the US, they come from everywhere in the world. Not only do they teach me about their homeland, but also they allow me to live my true life purpose.
For me, helping immigrants achieve the American Dream, teaching them how to sell themselves, and the ability to serve a global audience is the reason why I do what I do.
How about you? What is your big why? I would love to hear it in the comments.
Li Lin is a career coach in the US. You can connect with her on her website at www.Li-Lin.net.