July 16, 2024
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As a senior at a university in Maine, I found my fellow international students struggling to find work after graduation, given the current state of the economy and the bureaucracy associated with being a ‘non-resident alien’ in the United States.

Thankfully, I secured work in Maine and will work at a Lewiston-based company this year. Here is how I did it and how you can, too!

Understanding the recruitment process in Maine

Maine is a state where getting hired primarily happens through referrals. How does one get referrals? Well, my friend, for that, you need to start networking!

Here is a list of places where you can do that

Roux Institute Start Summit

The Roux Institute has networking events throughout the year, but the Start Summit remains one of my favorites.

Essentially, this is a one- to two-day event where you are placed in teams randomly with people you have never met and are tasked with coming up with an innovative idea surrounding a theme for the start summit.

For instance, the most recent start summit when writing this article was on May 15 around the theme of ‘Ocean Economy.’

During the event, you will get a crash course on Design thinking and pitching, access to experts in the field, and a chance to interview locals in the community to understand their challenges.

Screenshot of Roux Start Summit on the Ocean Economy

Once you and your team have an idea, you present it to a panel of judges to compete for a prize of $2000 for first place.

Note- The mini-start summit listed above did not mention a cash prize, but it is a well-known fact that Start Summits have cash prizes!

Pointers for networking: When you meet a bunch of random people and go through the process of teamwork, it is natural that you talk and understand their background and what they are doing in Maine. I met many incredible people across different industries through Start Summits, and one of them helped me get to the interview stage at the place where they work, too! Relationships you build here go a long way, especially in a small place like Maine.

Maine Career Catalyst Networking Events

Maine Career Catalyst
Maine Career Catalyst

Maine Career Catalyst (MCC) is a non-profit organization that caters to students in Maine and helps them in areas of professional development and honing skills required for seeking jobs in Maine. They hold free workshops throughout the summer and have networking events for people in certain industries like Aquaculture, Marine Sciences, etc. They also have networking events for the BIPOC community and uphold the values of DEI in Maine’s job market.

Also, if you have not already checked out their EQUIP stipend, it is a $1500 award for BIPOC students pursuing an internship in Maine. The award is typically used to cover living expenses.

Bangor Area Entrepreneurship Conference (Blitz)

Bangor Area Entrepreneurship Conference

Blitz is a regional entrepreneurship conference held in December in the city of Bangor and organized by the UpStart Center for Entrepreneurship. The last time I was here, the participation was huge, and there were local businesses and major companies in Maine doing business in the Bangor region in attendance.

I got to network and talk to people across various industries, including banking, fintech, healthcare, and technology. It is recommended to go early to make most of the event since it only happens once a year. Also, it is a paid event, but if you had an internship with Innovate for Maine, you might have a chance to do it for free (they covered the cost for us last time). Also, more on the Innovate for Maine fellowship later.

Startup Maine Week

Startup Maine
Startup Maine

Startup Maine is yet another organization based in the Portland, Maine Metropolitan Area that acts as a resource hub for aspiring entrepreneurs and veteran founders alike in Maine. Their flagship Startup Maine Week takes place every year, where one can attend various events ranging from panel discussions, workshops, networking breaks, and more. I found this helpful interactive map on their website that made it super easy to browse through the information.

In the next part of this series, we will go further and take a look at internship opportunities for international students in Maine that can lead to future work. If you found this helpful and want to stay updated, I highly encourage you to sign up for my newsletter!

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