Job Search as an International Student
Updated: Mar 2
The end goal of many international students studying in the United States is to graduate and kick off their careers. International students face multiple challenges as they begin their job search, coming up against unfamiliar practices while confronting issues U.S. citizens never face. The U.S. job market is likely to be extremely different from your home country and we would love to help you best prepare yourself for the process.
Your university is filled with many resources specifically targeted towards international students, especially for helping international students in their job search post-graduation. Use the career center to your advantage. Set up meetings with the staff to define your goals and how you can meet them during your time at the university.
The U.S. economy and job market are highly competitive and you have to have more than a high GPA. Employers are seeking candidates who have experience, whether it is volunteer work or internship experience, holding leadership roles, and building your professional skill set.
Build professional relationships and experience
Networking is the best way to build professional relationships, gathering contacts within your field of interest, from professors to staff members to classmates. Building these connections might lead to employment opportunities and having this connection could put at the head of the pack amongst hundreds of applicants. Being informed about a position through your network could also give you a head start before others apply for the same role.
Reach out to your campus career center so that you can be informed and prepared for campus recruitment and career fairs that could lead to a position or create a connection leading to another fitting role.
Understand your options
Before you start the process, be sure you are fully aware of the visa requirements and restrictions you may come up against. To work in the U.S. after graduation, you must apply for OPT status (Optional Practical Training). This helps you gain professional experience after graduation. Keep in mind that this is a temporary status meant to help you gain valuable work experience in the U.S. and give you the time and experience to navigate your employment options after graduation. A “post-completion” OPT will give you 12 months of work authorization in your field of study. If you complete a STEM degree, you have the option to apply for an additional 24-month extension, bringing the total to 36 months.
There are a few important things to keep in mind while exploring your options:
You need to apply for OPT through your university DSO (designated school official). You need to communicate with your International Student Office to ensure you have the right documentation and that you apply before the deadline. Start this process early!
Working in the US post-OPT is not guaranteed, so make sure you make the most of your experience. Network with people and learn as much as you can!
Completing an internship during your undergraduate experience is a great way to get your foot in the door with a company that you may be interested in working for in the future.
Remain optimistic and determined
The job search as an international student can be challenging and exhausting, but you must remember it has been done, and it is possible! You just have to set yourself up for success and completely prepare yourself for the process. The important thing is to be confident in your abilities, stay positive and be sure to make potential employers aware of what you will bring to the table and why you are worth the investment.
Recognize your qualities and remember that your job search is a two-way street, so be sure to thoroughly research potential employers before applying for a position with their company. The more research you do, the better prepared and more successful the interview will be.
We are aware of how difficult it is to go through the job search process. It is important to constantly remind yourself not to give up hope, remain confident, and that will surely shine through to employers.
Our goal at EdAgree is to help you identify your path to academic success at a U.S. university. We want to help you put your best foot forward during the admissions process, support you throughout your study abroad journey and beyond! Including preparing you to be successful beyond graduation, whether you are networking or at a career fair, our goal is to be sure you feel completely confident while entering your job search.
Create your free EdAgree profile today to start your path to the right university for you and your future!