Client anna Ramos describes her experience training and receiving interview coaching with Julia Kirst
Transcription to english
Hello, I’m here after getting a super special invitation from Julia and Dani to say a little bit about my experience with the courses that Julia teaches.
Unlike many other people, my move to the United States happened kind of quickly and I had little time to plan. I didn’t know much about the process (of becoming a dentist in the USA). I am a dentist in Brazil. And I am also a resident of the United States now.
So, I didn’t know much about the revalidation. And when I started to research a little more and understand a little more about what the steps were, I felt a certain anguish. I knew that the American culture is different from ours. (I think everybody imagines that.) And this made me very anxious because whatever I do, I like to do it well.
For example, creating an American resume. I have had a more academic life. And if you are an academic in Brazil you know that we have the Curriculo Lattes. You basically enter data into the system, and the systems creates the resume for you.
So, I had never created a resume from scratch. And I started to feel worried. Same with the statement of purpose… (Soon I will start talking about the courses I took.) I felt very anxious about these things.
Then I learned about Julia and her work. And I immediately scheduled a Discovery Call. We talked for nearly one hour.
Initially - I don’t know if Julia will remember – for me, that meeting meant a total shift in how I was looking at the process and what was possible. With that call, I started to believe that it was possible to revalidate my degree... Before that, I thought it was probably impossible!
And Julia began to explain to me some things that I thought I knew, but [with her explanations] I saw that I didn’t know much about it at all. Because of cultural differences, sometimes what we think is important is not important for an American [assessing your application].
For example, I remember Julia talking about volunteer work. This is something that we do in Brazil with genuine interest, but we don’t value it as much as it is valued in the United States.
So, I took some courses with Julia. I took the resume course and the course [on how to write the] personal statement – which is like an introduction letter. I took the recommendation letter courses – these are the letters that our recommenders provide for our specific goal. Comment boxes – which is something specific for those who are revalidating through a specialty. And I took two interview courses.
And, frankly, I wouldn’t be able to say what course is more important. I feel that all of them have a similar level of importance. Each course has its place and is super valuable.
In my resume, as I said, I had a resume in the Lattes style. That resume has 20 or 21 pages, if I’m not mistaken. When I talked to Julia, I saw that what was expected was totally different. So was how to group the information in an American resume.
That came as a shock, you know? I thought I had a resume that was practically ready, that all that was needed was to translate it. That is what I thought. And then I saw that translating was nonsense. What I needed was to write a resume from scratch. Even if the [new] resume was based on the same experiences [as the original], it had to be built from scratch.
Personal Statement: Sometimes it can be easy to speak about ourselves. But sometimes it is very hard to know what people want to hear. This is especially true when we are immigrants and don’t necessarily understand the values [of the host country]. Many times, I still don’t know what Americans value the most and what they want to hear from me in a particular situation.
If I am introducing myself for a job, for example, I will do it in a specific way. If I am introducing myself for a [place at a]university, I will do it another way. I had a lot of difficulty understanding this. So, Julia was essential for me to understand what Americans want to hear and how we can tell our story in a way that is real – it IS your life – and also moves the reader. So, perfect. I changed my entire personal statement that I had already started to write. I changed everything, according to Julia’s recommendations.
And I have to say that it worked. In my first application cycle, I was accepted at a university residency!
Recommendation letters: My first difficulty was selecting the people who would be my recommenders. First I made a list of the people, professors, colleagues, co-workers, that were important in my professional life. But that list was too long, and I didn’t know who to choose.
We need a small group, right? So, I came to Julia with a lot of worry: “I have too many people!” Which, luckily, I have a great professional relationship with them.
I didn’t want to have people with more personal relationships. Because we know that in Brazilian culture, it is very common to mix our personal and professional lives. Here [in the US] it is different. So, who am I going to select [and ask to be my recommender]? With Julia we talked about the needs, what was important, and we managed to come up with group that was just right.
I also managed to shape my documents, for example, for a more academic program, I shared more information about academic things. For a university that focused on clinical practice, I changed the information for this context, focusing more on clinical issues. I think this shaping of the information was fundamental for me to succeed in my first application cycle.
Comment boxes. This part is specific for people doing degree revalidations [through the specialties]. It refers to a section in which our recommenders answer a few questions about us. And in this part, what I found most amazing and that was explained perfectly by Julia is that sometimes you say the same thing – you have the same information you need to share – but using different words, and you have a completely different result. And now that I have been in the United States longer, I can see how this [use of words to create an effect] is valued by Americans.
Lastly, but no less important, was the interview course. First I took the interview course with Julia, and at that time a lot of ideas came to my mind. When I got my first interview invitation, I sent an email to Julia: “Julia, I got my first invitation!” I was super happy. “But I will need your help.”
I had never studied English in my life, and so I had a lot of insecurities around the language. I had always spoken Portuguese with Julia because my English was not very developed. Portuguese was more comfortable for me. But right when we started [the mock interview], Julia said: “Oh, Anna, I think we will need to speak English because your interview is going to be in English. It doesn’t make sense to do a mock interview speaking Portuguese if in the interview you will be speaking English.”
I felt very insecure about this, but [being pushed] is another thing I am very grateful for. Even though it is not Julia’s focus, she gave me many tips about word usage, including words I was pronouncing in a way that would have been more difficult for Americans to understand. Julia gave me some tips about pronunciation that were excellent.
In the first mock interview, I arrived thinking I knew everything because I had already taken the class, I had studied a lot, and I had done a lot of homework.
And then, halfway through it, Julia said: “Anna, I think we should stop now. Things are just not flowing. You don’t seem able to answer foundational questions in a solid manner. I think you could study a little more and then we can continue with the second half hour of the mock interview.”
I did exactly that because I trust Julia and her work. But when she said this, I thought: “I want to kill her. What do you mean? I know everything, I researched everything there was to know.” But I decided to trust her. And l also felt my pride speaking. I thought: “Now Julia is going to see who is ready for an excellent interview.” It was this mix of wanting to do it well and wanting to show her who is boss. And I say that what happened [being called on not being prepared enough] was key, it was key! I understood completely how important that [extra preparation] was when I did my interviews.
I did my first interview for a university, and I came out of the interview exhausted. My head wasn’t working too well because of my emotional exhaustion. I sent a message to Julia, and she once again received me perfectly, she said words that were just what I needed to hear.
For the second interview [also for a university] I studied a lot, I talked with Julia, and ran some thoughts by her. I had already read her entire book. And I said: This will be MY interview!
I came out of this second interview feeling sure that I had done the awesome job I had prepared for. I can’t speak for the professors who evaluated me, of course, but I felt very calm and prepared.
One thing that is very important that Julia emphasized in her course, and that I felt made a big difference, especially for the second interview, is that sometimes we are asked questions that are not very comfortable for us. Perhaps the topic is not our strength, or we don’t feel that we have a lot of experience in the area, etc.
But in this second interview, I was super confident, I was feeling so good that I had no problem doing what Julia recommends: to take the question the professor asks and shape the answer so that it becomes about something you are comfortable with.
I believe that this made all the difference. I managed to speak about what I wanted to bring up. I answered the question, but I complemented it with information I had studied and that I wanted to make sure the interviewer knew about me.
This was one of the most important points I learned with Julia. I think how we shape the interview makes a big difference.
In summary, I couldn’t say which of the courses is more important. For me, all the courses have the same value. They are all essential, each in their own way.
Julia has a method, a way of embracing us when we need it, in addition to everything else she offers. I really recommend Julia’s courses. I say “courseS” [plural] because I did EVERYTHING. I have all these folders on my computer: Julia INTERVIEW. Julia COMMENT BOXES. Julia RESUME. Every course I took, I made a list of the tasks, the things I had to prepare.
So, I highly recommend the courses and I truly want to thank you, Julia, for everything you have done for me. For your faith in me, for seeing my limits and insisting that I go beyond. Even though we hadn’t known each other for a long time, there was this moment in which I thought I was ready, and you challenged me. And after, I discovered that indeed I wasn’t ready, that I needed more.
Thank you, thank you, Julia. I highly highly recommend the courses. Even if we try to do things on our own, I think we need orientation to understand the values of the culture that we want to join. It is different. I can be the most qualified person in Brazil, but here Americans value different things.
I have no words to express my gratitude for all the courses, for all our conversations, for all our email exchanges, and for the book, which I have right here. I moved [from California], I am here in Georgia already, and your book came with me. Even though I have read the full book, now and then I think of something, something happens, and I go back and reread a section that relates. I have it on my nightstand because I have only been here three years, right? I still have a lot to learn about American culture!
I am also a subscriber of Julia’s newsletter. I never miss it. I read them all. Because although the initial culture shock of the arrival is past, my work to understand the American culture continues. The newsletter is about specific topics [related to application processes] but also about random curiosities and information. It has added a lot to my transition, this transition that everybody who has gone through it knows is not easy.
And I am available if anybody has a question, is wondering whether or not to take the courses, wondering if you can do it alone or not, I am totally willing to talk about how important this [learning with Julia] was for me.
Some people have asked me: “Ah, Anna, you went through the process before, could you help me write a letter?” And I said: “I can recommend someone, but I can’t do it for you.” Because the process is very individual. Very individual. I always say, “If you deliver a generic letter, they will discard your application right away, no matter what the application is for.”
So, this is what I had to say, Julia. One more time, thank you so so much!
Dr. Anna Ramos