In conversation: Dhruvin Patel, Founder, Ocushield
Employer Case Studies
March 26, 2021
Back in 2014, when Dhruvin was studying Optometry at City, University of London, academic research led him to deep dive into the impact that blue light – emitted from all the devices & screens we use regularly – impacts the eyes’ physiology, circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycle) and skin. At the time, screens were getting bigger, which meant this could cause a big problem — in the short term it could cause eyestrain & headaches, in the long run, it could trigger eye diseases.
Ocushield was born out of Dhruvin’s attempt to create products that could eliminate and absorb harmful blue light, without affecting the colours on the screen. Since then he’s received his formal qualification as an Optometrist, the products at Ocushield have been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and grown the company with the mission to “protect people one device at a time, one screen at a time”.
Dhruvin sat with Student Circus to share an employer’s perspective of working with International students:
How did you come to hire an international student? What was the hiring process & profile like?
I’d approached Student Circus with my need for a graphic designer – someone with a keen sense of branding & packaging. We found a candidate who – after a round of introduction & interaction – seemed like the perfect fit. She was then hired on a zero hour contract as the flexibility was beneficial for both us as a company and for her as an international student with VISA restrictions as to working hours.
To kickstart the work, she helped the organisation redefine the brand guidelines & templates. The design & branding is a key part of our work, so she was also to capture those guidelines & processes. She also helped us design other bits. This was a good overview of her work with us in the first 6 months of her engagement as an intern. When she moved back to India, we still wanted to continue working with her, so we on-boarded her as a contractor, and she consults with us to date.
As an employer, do you see a difference between intl students versus local/domestic students?
International students are just a lot hungrier than the rest. They're willing to prove themselves a little bit more. I think it kind of makes sense because it's harder for them to land opportunities because of all the hoops they’ve to jump through.
For us at Ocushield, being a start-up, ambition & hard work are recognised, and we saw a lot of that reflected in international students. The dynamics for the other groups of students/candidates are different, because they look at opportunities with big organizations with set templates of what work would look like. As a start-up, we look for initiative, creativity, and team spirit. It’s always nice to have someone who is willing to hustle.
How do you think international students can make a lasting impression?
In the application
The biggest skill that people undervalue is emotional intelligence. I think being able to read the other person, and what they're saying, and how they're responding to them – is really important. I've been in interviews where the potential applicant is just not reading what I'm saying, or how I'm feeling about a certain question, and then they go down the wrong hole. Read the room – that way, first impressions matter.
And, secondly, I think the candidates should research the company thoroughly. Most candidates only look at the website, I think it’s worth digging deeper – check what the latest news about the company is, check their company pages on LinkedIn etc. A candidate saying “I really love what you do here with xyz” would stick out for me. Bonus points if the candidate brings something to the table, too: if they have a suggestion to make, or suggestion as to how they’d perform a certain activity in the company – that shows me that they’re proactive, they’re rolling out ideas & have got their thinking cap on.
In the actual internship/job
It’d depend on the business & organization; some companies realise the benefits of international students a bit more. If they’re a global company selling their products to the US, hiring international students from USA is going to help them sell better.
Companies also benefit from bringing in a diverse employee base. That variety of cultures & experiences is very important to have a bigger conversation. If the person is the right fit for the role & comes from a diverse background, it's only going to help you – think wider and better output on what you're doing, aka marketing and sales and execution. So that’s the direct benefit.
Does it faze you as an employer that there are more hoops to jump through in the case of hiring international students/candidates?
Yes and no. I think if you don't have a company like Student Circus to hold your hand through the process or let you know the different requirements, then it is definitely a bottleneck. Working with Student Circus you’ll always have someone to tell you, “it's not actually that tedious of work. These are the steps you need to bring someone in. This is what we need to do effectively.”