I grew up both in Japan and in the United States. Living between the two countries gave me a fascination with people and businesses from different cultural backgrounds. Eventually my curiosity led me to pursue a career in connecting global brands to people with diverse backgrounds.

After Darden, I worked for a marketing agency that helps Japanese brands expand their businesses into the U.S., developing everything from brand strategy to execution of marketing roadmaps. It was exciting to see brands grow their presence in the U.S., but I started wondering how I could make a bigger impact. At the marketing agency, I was only able to help a handful of brands at any given moment, and I came to realize the channels to import product from Japan were limited, especially for smaller brands, restricting their ability to expand rapidly. What many needed was not only marketing support but also a retail or an ecommerce platform to introduce their products into the international market.

However, ecommerce is such a vast and multifaceted industry, I wasn’t quite sure where to start when it came to searching for a position. After a few months of searching on my own, I decided to sign-up for a one-on-one career coaching session with Darden Alumni Career Services (ACS).

My ACS coach helped me to update my resume and LinkedIn profile, and refined my elevator pitch to better fit the roles I was interested in. My coach also shared some important tools such as the Job Search Toolkit, available on Darden ACS’s website, and Job Scan, which helped me focus my resume on the experiences that matched the positions I was seeking. Refocusing my LinkedIn profile on my international marketing background had an immediate impact, increasing my odds of getting noticed by recruiters and others looking to fill positions aligned with my interests.

We’ve all heard it before: Networking is essential to any job search, and more broadly, career growth. My initial approach was to focus mainly on people who were closely connected to the opportunities I was pursuing. Later in my search, however, I expanded my approach to include reconnecting with friends and others in my network. I made this shift because as I spent more time networking, I realized how much more powerful a warm introduction can be when compared to sending a cold email to someone I had never met. Although many of my close contacts were in roles that were different from what I sought, several had relevant experience in the industry or function that I was interested in. So while learning more about the exciting things that they were working on, I gained valuable insight on the roles that I was seeking as well as sound advice. Job search can be daunting, but practice makes perfect. As I continued my networking efforts, I learned to project confidence and let my passion shine through.

This effort pushed me to reach out even further, to mentors and Darden classmates I hadn’t talked to in far too long. When we reconnected, it felt like no time had passed. I am very thankful for those that offered support; it made me appreciate the value of those relationships. In the end, I accepted an offer to join an e-grocery startup in the Bay Area as a founding member of the Japanese Marketing team.

For those who are going through a career transition and need assistance — or just don’t know where to start — I highly recommend reaching out to the Alumni Career Services team. They are there to help you succeed. I am very thankful for the support I received from ACS and in particular, my career coach. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to think outside the box, use all the resources available to Darden alumni and eventually find a role I was truly excited about.