Many people ask me if I have had difficulty as an international student making the transition into the American lifestyle. While there are some aspects which I have embraced with ease, I still experience a fair amount of culture shock on a daily basis!
In Moldova, our image of America is shaped in part by the media and Hollywood movies, which portray a culture which is much more liberal and open than anything I was used to in Moldova.
When I arrived in the US, I had not ruled out the possibility that all these stereotypes the media had ingrained in me since childhood might be true. However, this openness which I was at first apprehensive of, turned out to have many benefits, both in my personal life and in the world of business.
In the world of business, it’s amazing to see how differently people approach networking here compared with Moldova. While getting a job on the basis of ‘knowing someone’ would be considered nepotism in Moldova, as an entrepreneur I can see the benefits of this kind of hiring practice; if I had to choose between hiring a person I didn’t know and who I’m not sure is competent and a person who I do know and am confident would do the job, I would probably recruit the second. Every recruiter fears recruiting the wrong person and if the uncertainty surrounding the process can be reduced, what’s the harm?
Informational interviews are not very common in Moldova. Students are not taught about different job searching strategies and they are often hesitant to approach a potential employer. On the other side, employees are often reluctant to discuss their work, or simply too busy.
Here at Brandeis IBS I’ve experienced the opposite. Classes are focused on theory and the practical applications of it as well. Professors are more than willing to provide insight into their work experiences and the faculty here seem to have worked all over the world!
Another amazing aspect of US business is how easy it is to collect information; this transparency and abundance of information is a foreign concept to me. I can find out almost anything I want to know about a company or a business through a simple web search, a call to the company or a company visit. Only a few people are reluctant to share information and companies are usually extremely helpful too.
Moreover, companies place their financial and operational information on their websites. With the click of a button, Bloomberg, Capital IQ or Thomson ONE Banker will tell you everything you want to know about a company, including data sets with historical revenue, expenses, net earnings, stock prices or corporate governance information. This openness is something I enjoy in the US – in my opinion it makes business decisions easy to make, extremely rewarding and productive.