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Arnav Mathur: Untraditional Recruiting

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As an international student in the US, Arnav became familiar with a special kind of pain in the application process: the lack of transparency from employers who are unwilling to hire international students who would need sponsorship in the future. Time after time, Arnav would spend ages filling out an application only to get to that dreaded last page asking him if he would need to be sponsored. He would tick “yes”, and after submitting the application, he would immediately receive a rejection email citing that he was not eligible. This issue motivated Arnav to look for other ways to advance his career and get his foot in the door at companies beyond the application process.   

Advancing his career path

Despite being a computer science student, Arnav is very much interested in working in finance. When he got to college, he decided to major in computer science instead of finance to truly explore his career interests. He found that he was equally interested in the tech world and wanted to find a way to do a mix of both. 

From then on, he started taking opportunities alongside his education to progress in his career and build his skillset. In 2019, he took on a position as a Treasurer for his residence hall for a few months to gain some accounting experience. Then, he began working as a tour guide for UCLA to work on his communication and leadership skills.

When the pandemic hit, Arnav, like many others, had difficulties finding an internship; however, he took matters into his own hands and decided to develop a web-based platform with some of his friends to help high school students navigate American college applications. In his experience, he found “there’s a lot of expectations but not a lot of guidance on how to go about navigating college applications for international students”. This project gave him experience in building a product from the ground up, differentiating himself from other students. 

Circling back to finance

Arnav started his internship search early in April 2020 and that continued after the pandemic settled into the “new normal” and the new school year started in the fall. He ended up shifting his focus from his summer project to focus more on landing an internship. A Citi recruiter ended up giving him advice that the best way for him to get his foot in the door was to complete Citi’s Market Division (Sales and Trading) virtual experience program with Forage. As he did not have direct experience working as a Markets Analyst, he said, “the pre-task content in the experience was the best insight I could’ve gotten into being on a trading floor, especially given the COVID-19 situation at the time”. The experience not only helped him to up-skill in this way but also provided him with valuable information about Citi to give him an edge when applying.

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Landing the internship offer

After completing the program, Arnav was surprised to hear from Citi recruiters that they reviewed his work and invited him to an exclusive event where he got to interact with Citi executives to learn more about their Markets division. “It was incredible. Usually, recruiting events allow you to network with entry level analysts, but this was different. I got to interact with senior employees  in a small group setting.”

Arnav listed many takeaways from the program that helped him get through the rest of the application process. “It prepared me better for going into interviews and superdays because I felt like I knew more aptly the kind of things that take up someone on the trading floor’s day…I could really tailor my responses for interviews and the questions I asked at the end.” In Arnav’s perspective, he felt like there was a higher reason for everything Citi included in the program, as if they were telling students exactly what they need to know to be successful in the interview and application process.

Ultimately, Arnav said that his biggest takeaway was “how to structure a morning meeting presentation”, something he would have never learned without taking the program. In the end, it was a no-brainer for him to accept Citi’s offer after the positive experiences he had with them.

Arnav’s parting advice to students? Find the side doors

Arnav advises his fellow students who are looking for opportunities in their career field to try untraditional ways to get through the recruiting process. He notes, “in terms of recruiting, the more side doors you can find into the company, the better.” Going to events hosted by the company or networking with someone at the company will give you an edge in the recruiting process. He says, “the lines are so much shorter through the side doors, therefore, you have a better chance of getting hired.” As someone who knows the pains of being an international student when looking for an internship, Arnav highly encourages international students to find the side doors and be open to opportunities outside of their host country.

Congratulations to Arnav on landing an offer with Citi!

Connect with Arnav on Linkedin here.

Follow Forage on LinkedIn here.

Erica started as a Content Writer Intern with Forage in January 2021; previously, she interned with The Borgen Project and wrote for HerCampus.