Business in the Spotlight: Prime Opt
This Week we’re continuing our recent international theme with an incredible American company: Prime Opt! We spoke to founder Andy Chan, who is looking to improve how people find jobs in the USA! Exciting. If you are interested in being in the spotlight click here.
I am Andy Chan (B.S., M.S.), and I have extensive experiences working in Fortune 100 companies in data science, project management, financial analysis, and BI analytics.
The idea of founding a career-coaching center started from my helping my wife look for a job upon graduation. My wife’s job search was a torturous journey for her. She graduated from one of the most selective Ph.D. programs at an Ivy League school in the USA, but the fame of her school and her program did not bring her immediate career success. Later, I discovered that hiring managers have many assumptions about the person behind this Ph.D. resume, thinking that researchers must be bad team workers with unrealistic expectations over jobs and promotions. At the same time, job seekers do not know much about the job market as well. In this process, I also learned that person branding is the key – at the end of the day, skills are much-wanted products in a labour market. My original idea was to establish a center to help Ph.Ds look for a job, but then I discovered that more job seekers could apply personal branding skills. With my language skills, I decided to found a career-coaching center to help more people build a successful career.
What is your company all about?
Prime Opt provides comprehensive career coaching services including resume building, interview practices, salary negotiation advice, and business networking help. We also run a training program for prospective business and data analysts, to help more professionals join the industry.
The goal of Prime Opt is to help professionals with international background land a job in the USA. To my clients, it is not only about their first opportunity but is also about a prime opportunity to develop their careers. My wife has learned Latin at graduate school, and out of different Latin roots, we two picked primo to name our business. Then, Prime Opt becomes a versatile name that could mean prime opportunity and the first opportunity. To0 many international students in the USA, OPT also means Optional Practical Training, a period international students who have completed their degrees are permitted by the US government to work towards getting practical training to complement their field of studies.
In recognition of Prime Opt‘s success, it is now a certified member of the Columbia University Alumni Career Coaches Network.
How important is what you do?
Career coaching is not only about helping people find fulfillment in jobs but is also about answering job seekers’ questions of who they are and where their value lies. I have had a client who has a Ph.D. in Material Science but asked me to help her look for a Receptionist position. It turns out that discouragement in job search make her doubt the value of her skill set, and eventually give in to an entry-level job. We spent time discussing career options with the client, and persuade her that her skill set is greatly valued. At last, we helped her become a Data Analyst. The most rewarding part is seeing her transform into a confident business professional who would now think about the impact she can make at her job. She thank us for her transformation. We thank her for the rewarding experience.
What kind people make great entrepreneurs?
The ability to think about the compatibility of business partners and employees. By this, I mean a great team in business should be one that everyone is contributing one’s expertise in order to realize a project. We strongly believe that no one knows everything, but everyone knows something and excels in something. When building a good team, do look beyond knowledge fields and think about personality. A good team actually needs people to work differently to ensure that personal character of one does not prevent the whole team from gaining access to great ideas or solutions. Therefore, it is important for all managers to know the strengths and weaknesses of team members. Because a team like this can consist of members who are very different, transparency is the key to success. Depending on which business stage a company is experiencing, there may be a need to build a solid system or a set of procedures to facilitate better communication – or at least make exchanging ideas easier for everyone.
Why is word of mouth important to you as a business?
It is very important to our business because clients can bring their assumptions into comprehending your profile and your business. At the beginning, many clients are sceptical about our company and our service. We did not know why until one day, a client criticized us for engaging in ‘illegal’ activities. Only later we learned that in China, there are many companies which scam people for money by claiming to be a job placement company. The idea of hiring a career coach is almost absent in China. We at Prime Opt chooses to tackle the problem by being extremely transparent about what we do. We also schedule free consultations sessions for some at the beginning, so we can better address clients’ concerns. Another solution is to share with clients our coaches’ professional profile on LinkedIn, so they know with whom they are really working. Gradually with our hard work, our clients had trust on us and started to refer clients to us.