How I landed a Senior Business Analyst role as an International Student in CanadaFeatured

Canada has the highest inflow of international students and almost 40% are from India. I am one of those students and, like many others, I have a common goal: to excel in my career and support my family back home. I have always had a dream to pursue an MBA, as I love the business world and enjoy turning chaos into clarity in any project I work on. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to study MBA in Marketing and Strategy at Brock University.

While I am super grateful for the opportunity, it came with its share of struggles. Landing in Canada post 3rd wave of COVID meant the economy was just recovering and landing a part-time job was hard. Most food chains exploited international students with little or no pay at all. With the added competition from local and international students applying for part-time roles, finding a job that paid enough to cover my living expenses proved to be a challenge. I spent three months searching for a job through my university and found an excellent opportunity as an IT Associate thanks to a friend who helped me. The manager interviewed me, found my skills relevant, and offered me the job. This experience taught me the value of networking and persistence.

Along with all this, one key aspect for us was learning the culture in Canada. India has consistent weather, foods tend to be spicy, and people are more friendly. But in Canada, people are reserved and to the point. Weather is extreme (especially during the cold winters), and food is different altogether. It took some time to learn how to ask questions effectively, understand Canadians’ passion for hockey, and blend in with the culture.

During my MBA, my focus was on sharpening business acumen, connecting with Professors and industry experts, and analyzing case studies. There were a lot of sleepless nights solving back-to-back assignments and simulations. These two years were intensive, but worth the sweat that eventually led me to land a Digital Analytics Co-op at Ontario Lottery and Gaming. However, here is the tricky part – most students think good grades are enough to land a job but that is not the case. It took me three months of intensive search, networking on LinkedIn, and 79 applications to get to one YES.

The dynamics of job application and networking are different in Canada, and learning the nuances takes a while. If you are an international student, I highly recommend staying connected with industry experts in your domain on LinkedIn. I started following Career Coaches who posted tips and recommended strategies for resumes and cover letters. Reaching out to the Career Centre at the University helped me gather more resources.

Once I landed the Co-op, I started gaining valuable experience in the B2C space. I refined my skills as a Business Analyst and deepened my understanding of strategy. My manager appreciated my work and also coached me on the business side of OLG, allowing me to align myself with the firm’s strategic goals. After four months of Co-op, I landed a Senior Business Analyst role at the same firm in the Lottery Strategy department. Lucky, you say? NO.

Again, I had gone through 115 applications across various companies to land one YES. This time it was stressful because my student loan repayments started. I had to land a job or my family would be in trouble. The passion and fire to succeed is what kept me going, and I believe it can help you too! So, to all international students, here are some tips:

  1. Start your job search early – at least six months before graduation.
  2. Connect with industry experts on LinkedIn, engage with their posts, and ask for a coffee chat.
  3. Attend conferences and networking events and show genuine interest in people’s work.
  4. Stay consistent, keep your LinkedIn profile updated, and stay strong.
  5. Improve your skillset and have a continuous learner mindset.

I am happy to continue to mentor students to land internships in Consulting, Banking, and high-impact sectors as part of ICON Talent Partners. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and ask questions about MBA or Business Analysis.

@sushmithasatyabrata, what an inspirational story! I am sort on a similar situation but in London. I moved here three months ago after following my gut and completing el Camino de Santiago. Moving to a new city, not knowing anyone, building your network is not easy at all, but I do think it is 110% worth it! Will loe to connect with you!