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An Interview with Ohio State Alumni

Monica coupleOhio State students Shilin Li, Jiayi Chen, Hongbin Chen from the Chinese Student and Scholars Society sat down with Monica Xia, Ohio State alumna who earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting, and Patrick McAloon, Ohio State alumnus who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in East Asian Studies, to discuss their time at Ohio State, professional development and time management skills.

Monica and Patrick both live in Columbus, co-own two companies, Sino-Connect and Columbus Living, and are on the board of directors of the Columbus China-US Chamber of Commerce. 

Please use three words to describe each other. 

Patrick described Monica as visionary, decisive and able to create wealth.

Monica described Patrick as patient, detail-oriented and considerate.

Monica, what is your impression of life at Ohio State?

Monica: The biggest impression is busy. Before coming to the United States, I had five years of work experience in China. When I was a freshman at Ohio State, I was 26 years old. When I first came, I set two goals for myself. One was to integrate into American society as soon as possible. The second was to complete all undergraduate courses in three years and 210 quarter credits required to complete the CPA exam. At the same time, I had to pay for tuition.

When I first arrived in Columbus, I found a job in the hospital and the court to interpret for Chinese immigrants who could not speak English. This job almost filled the spare time outside of my studies. I hardly participated in social organizations, and I feel a little regret. But the work is also good, it helps me get familiar with Columbus' urban environment as soon as possible, let me touch all aspects of American society and also raise my confidence in the United States.

Monica, is there any time management method or multitasking skills that can be introduced to current students?

Monica: My advice is to plan well and find a way that suits you. This is very different from person to person. For example, Patrick used to use Google Calendar to write everything down. To plan ahead, you need to be detailed. For me, I like to remember things in my head. No matter what, you have to know what works for you.

How can students find jobs quickly?

Monica: I would recommend to participate in an involvement fair or an interview held by various companies on campus. There are so many resources available across campus. I have participated in many campus interviews since my freshman year. After each interview, my interview skills improved. If not everyone is like me who had some working experience, they can still participate in community engagement, subject-oriented projects, networking events so that there will be more opportunities for them to practice and improve and even showcase your ability. 

Can you introduce some job-seeking skills to your classmates?

Monica: The first piece of advice is to start looking for internships as soon as possible. For American companies, the purpose of recruiting interns is to train them to become full-time employees in the future. An internship will establish a student’s internal company connections.

The second piece of advice is not to limit your circle of friends. Try to open a circle of friends with (those from other countries). You don't need to use too much force at first. When you try, your communication will be natural.

Patrick, do you have suggestions for making friends with international students?

Patrick: I suggest you attend more networking activities organized by the university. Guest speakers are  good networking opportunities. You not only meet face-to-face with folks with senior positions in the industry, but also establish relationships with peers in the same profession or in the same school. In the future, perhaps one of them can give you an internal opportunity.

I often see Chinese students stay together at networking events. This is actually normal. American students don’t know what to talk about at first, but try talking with them. The skills of interviewing and networking are similar.

If you are choosing between a graduate school or work, how would you consider your options?

Monica: I think it depends on the major you are studying and your objectives. If you are in business, I think it may be a good choice to work for a while, then go to graduate school. After working for a while, you will know more about where you need to improve, and you will have more goals in graduate school. After working for a while, you will have an applied understanding of what you have learned. But if you are studying science, and you want to engage in academics, then I think graduate school may be more appropriate.

Patrick: No matter what major you are, you must learn to find a job. Learning to use the resources of the school is the most basic step. Ohio State's various colleges have their own sharing platforms for their job resources, which can be found online. If you are not sure, you can also ask the person in the career office. Check out school activities, academic networking events and career fairs. Be more involved.

You have both worked in China and the United States and often contact Chinese and American companies and governments. Can you talk about the similarities and differences?

Patrick: Whether in China or the United States, "guanxi" (translated as connections or relationships) are important. You should have a relationship with your professor and attend activities like career and internship fairs.

Monica: In China, the rank of the position will be more distinct, and the United States may be more casual. Dealing with problems, the Chinese will be more flexible while Americans are less so. There are different scales of measuring outcomes. The United States is more focused on the purpose and results, and the Chinese may pay more attention to the whole process. I think this is also why there are always some problems with the two countries and can cause misunderstanding.