When the pandemic prevented Diana Vicezar ’24, an international student from Paraguay, from coming to Pitzer for the on-campus experience, she was not deterred. Vicezar began connecting with over 100 international students from all over the world to learn about their college experiences. However, what started as an opportunity to make friends and find a positive mental health outlet became a discovery of the common challenges international students face when searching for a job or exploring career options.
“Some international students have no knowledge of how to write a resume or a cover letter, and some are not even aware of the work authorization programs until their last years of college,” said Vicezar. “With a small number of companies offering job opportunities and therefore facing higher competition, international students need to start looking for opportunities and resources early on.”
This is what inspired Vicezar to step in with a new career platform: Mapis. The platform is designed to help international students explore career options and navigate the job search process. It provides access to professional and academic opportunities open to international students. Mapis also holds events on career development topics led by professionals working at top US companies. Additionally, Vicezar coaches the students on the platform through one-on-one advising sessions.
Vicezar launched the closed beta version of Mapis on February 22, 2022, to international students studying at colleges, universities, community colleges, and vocational and technical schools in the US. Mapis currently has 100 active users who give feedback, and international students from over 100 colleges and universities are on the waitlist for the upcoming open beta version of the platform that will be launched on July 22. This summer, Vicezar is interning in product design at Meta as she continues working on the open beta version launch of Mapis.
Vicezar and Mapis have been featured in the media, including the recent Forbes article “International Student Builds Unique Platform to Help Her Peers Thrive.”
Pitzer prepared Vicezar for launching Mapis in many ways. Vicezar is an active member of the Pitzer International Student Association (PISA), and in spring 2021, she was selected to serve as the international representative on the Pitzer College Student Senate. In this role, she created weekly newsletters to inform international students about jobs, internships, and on-campus events organized by PISA. Additionally, Vicezar works as a fellow at Pitzer’s Career Services to help domestic and international students one-on-one with their resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. That experience of honing her mentoring and advising skills, coupled with the encouragement from the Career Services staff, gave Vicezar the confidence boost she needed to make Mapis a reality.
“Pitzer has been key in all of this,” said Vicezar. “The combination of all these opportunities and experiences I had led me to launching Mapis.”
In describing her experience on Pitzer’s campus during the past academic year, Vicezar emphasized how much professors and the staff care about the students’ mental health.
“We international students receive a lot of support from Pitzer, and I think that it’s only going to get better,” she said. “I always tell international students to apply!”
Pitzer offers career support to international students through a close partnership with the Office of Study Abroad and International Programs, providing joint programming, workshops, panels, advising, and resources. Additionally, Career Services is implementing a new electronic platform, Interstride, that offers tailored resources to support the career development of international students.
Vicezar is excited about Interstride, and she has pursued Mapis as an independent project to provide more broadly accessible support for students at other colleges that don’t have Interstride or other resources like Pitzer.
“I wanted this to be an open platform for everyone, regardless of the college you go to and what interests you have,” said Vicezar.