America For Beginners

Bringing American culture closer to new immigrants

Top Ten Tips for Immigrants to Climb the Career Ladder

  1. Do more than expected.  And you’ll get more than you could ever expect.
  2. Learn to give feedback.  Giving feedback and voicing your opinion are so essential to a work process that you need to learn how to do it constructively and without hurting anyone’s feelings.
  3. Speak clearly and speak up. Self-explanatory:)
  4. Socialize. Being a work machine is not enough. Shocker! For some reason, people prefer to work with someone who is nice, polite, able to maintain a conversation, and has a sense of humor.
  5. Dress for success. Many companies have a strict dress code, so you don’t really have an option. But If you do, make sure your outfit is neat, clean, and work appropriate. It applies to anyone, local or foreign, but being an immigrant you already have to deal with a bunch of assumptions, so you need to be on top of your game.
  6. Embrace the fact that you’re different. At the age of global communications and growing cultural diversity being different can be an advantage.  You have a unique perspective on things, valuable life experience and native proficiency in a foreign language (!) There will always be inside jokes that you don’t understand because of the lack of background cultural knowledge, and it’s ok.
  7.  Find inspiration. Have you ever heard of someone who moved to the States from a foreign country and made it here? An artist, a movie star, a scientist, a programmer? Find the person whose career path is something you dream of and let them inspire you.
  8. Don’t deflate.When something goes wrong, don’t excuse yourself by thinking that “it’s all because I’m not from here”, that “people are too different”, or even that “Americans are xenophobic”. Even if that’s true, victimizing yourself is counterproductive. Remember the almost cliché  “No matter how you feel, wake up, dress up and show up”? So, show up and show your coworkers that you are a real professional.
  9. Know your worth. If you’re a talented engineer, you’re still a talented engineer even after you move to another country. Language barrier, culture shock, and other obstacles shouldn’t mislead you into thinking that you’re less of a specialist.
  10. See the bright side. It might be true that you have to learn more than others, adjust, assimilate and prove something to someone. Look at it as an opportunity for personal growth. Getting through this initial stage can be painful, but it’ll make you a professional who is able to adapt to a new environment, stay productive, and stay resilient. That in itself will make you a very valuable worker. And you are.

One comment on “Top Ten Tips for Immigrants to Climb the Career Ladder

  1. casmige
    July 31, 2012

    Great Tips & insights!!

    Re: #5 Dress for success.

    Executive Profile
    Joe Lopano: Pan Am mailroom to Tampa Int’l

    Q: “How did you get started in your current career?”
    A: “One of my first jobs in the aviation industry was working in the mailroom for Pan Am. I went to work every day wearing a three-piece suit and carrying the Wall Street Journal. People ribbed me about it, but I told them one day I’d be in management. In about six months, I was.”


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