Three Earlham College seniors have been selected as Orr Fellows and two of them have accepted salaried positions with high-growth companies in Indianapolis after graduation.
Tsitsi Makufa, Trevor Marimbire and Salma Khalaf, all international students, are the first from Earlham to be selected for the competitive national program. The fellowship attracts 1,200 applicants each year and less than 8 percent earn offers from companies.
Orr Fellows submit personal statements and essays for consideration. Finalists interview with executives from multiple companies in a single day and rank their choices. The Orr Fellowship then works with employers to find finalists who are good matches for the companies.
“As international students, this is a significant opportunity because we don’t have a lot of options to stay in the country after graduation,” said Khalaf, a Palestinian who grew up in Lebanon and is studying international relations at Earlham. Makufa and Marimbire are from Zimbabwe and are pursuing degrees in global management and quantitative economics, respectively.
Fellows also have access to special networking events and stipends that pay for continued learning opportunities.
“The Orr Fellowship is also doing a great job of negotiating a lot of benefits with these companies on our behalf,” Khalaf said. “If I applied directly to an entry-level position, we would not necessarily have the same opportunities.”
Earlhamites are routinely awarded the nation’s most prestigious post-graduate awards, including the Fulbright Award, Watson Fellowship, Rhodes scholarship and the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.
The interview process for the Orr Fellowship challenged the applicants to describe how they were “humble, hungry and people-smart,” Makufa said. “As international students, studying in the United States is all about demonstrating these things. We all have multiple jobs on campus, and are involved in lots of different things in addition to the work we do in the classroom. I think that helped set us apart from other applicants.
“Normally with interviews you have to do all the talking, but they were selling themselves to us, too. I liked that, “she said. “They wanted to make sure we liked them and that they knew enough about us to see if we were a match.”
Khalaf is graduating this fall and has accepted a position with Kiwanis International, a global organization of clubs, members and partners focused on improving the lives of children. Marimbire has accepted an offer from KAR Global, a company that provides remarketing solutions in the used vehicle industry. Makufa is pursuing other opportunities after graduation.
“Looking at the structure of the fellowship, their aim is to keep people in Indiana,” Khalaf added. “We are not from Indiana, but we are staying in the state and contributing a lot in that sense and adding to the diversity of the fellowship.”
“My mission this fall was to get a job—nothing else mattered to me,” Marimbire added. “This shows that even though jobs are difficult for international students, there are opportunities out there. It’s all about leveraging resources, and these are in Indiana, in a city just an hour away. I am excited to have a meaningful option after graduation.”
The Orr Fellowship was first awarded in 2001 and was named in honor of former Indiana Gov. Robert Orr.