Preparing for and conducting your job search in the United States can be challenging for International Students. The process can be quite different from that used in your home country. Career Services encourages you to use the information and resources contained in this webpage to assist you in conducting your search.
Working in the United States
Your visa status is what determines if you can work in the U.S. and in what types of situations. International students generally hold either an F1 (student status) or J1 (exchange visitor) visa. Students may be eligible to accept certain types of employment.
All International Students interested in employment MUST work with the University’s Office of International Student Services to insure that they are in compliance with their visa status and that they follow the correct procedures for obtaining employment.
The Career Services staff does not have expertise in employment law and cannot advise you in regards to your employment eligibility. Career Services role is to serve as a conduit, bringing employers and students together and facilitating the hiring process for all parties. Employers make all of their own choices about who they will interview. Career Services does not advise employers about the hiring of International Students.
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Employment Possibilities Broken down by Visa Type
Employment Possibilities for F1 Visa Holders include:
- On-Campus Employment: Maintaining F1 Status allows you to work 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters and full-time during official school breaks.
- Practical Training: Practical training may be authorized for an F1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year. ISPS will determine your eligibility for either Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training.
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CPT is a type of work permission that allows you to accept employment in your major field of study. The employment must be either required or an integral part of the curriculum to include internship or practicum. See CPT packet to review eligibility requirements and application procedure .
- Optional Practical Training (OPT): OPT is a type of work permission that allows you to accept employment in your major field of study for a period of 12 months. See OPT packet to review eligibility requirements and application procedure .
Employment Possibilities for J1 Visa Holders include:
- On-Campus Employment: Maintaining J1 Status allows you to work 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters and full-time during official school breaks. You will need permission from your Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor for on-campus employment.
- Academic Training: Academic Training is employment related to the student’s academic program and can be done before or after completion of your studies. Degree-seeking students may be eligible for 18 months of academic training or the equivalent to the number of months enrolled, whichever is shorter. Students engaged in postdoctoral training may be eligible for an additional 18 months after completion of doctorate for a total of 36. See J1 Academic Training Packet to review eligibility requirements and application procedures .
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For the most part, it will be large organizations that will hire you for either CPT or OPT. Organizations that require a security clearance may pose an additional obstacle to getting hired. This may include positions within the U.S. Government or the defense industry. Much of your potential employability depends on what you have to offer the employer in terms of skills, experience and your accomplishments, both academic and non-academic.
Organizations of any size, with a specialized need that they are having difficulty finding a citizen to fill, will be interested in International Students. Transnational corporations operating in the United States are often interested in International Students.
What Employers Look For
Employers are looking for a variety of characteristics in all potential applicants. They want students who have a skill set that they need, who are motivated, honest, hard-working and take initiative. Most employers want individuals with good communication and interpersonal skills. To be competitive, you need to make sure you hone your written, spoken and reading English skills and make an effort to learn about American business culture.
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How Can I Best Prepare to Enter the American Workplace?
Use the services and resources we have at Career Services to assist you in your career planning and job search.
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A resume is the document that most U.S. employers use to evaluate a student’s education, skills and experience in order to select students for interviews. If you are a PhD level student who is either looking for an academic position or a research position in industry, you might use a curriculum vitae. In either case, you want to make sure that your document is in “American format” and does an excellent job of selling your skills, education and experience. Career Services has many resources to assist you with developing a top-notch document:
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An interview is where the employer evaluates a candidate in person to determine their fit for a particular position. Interviews, by their very nature, are culturally biased. Interviews in Japan, Iran, France, Mali and the United States are all going to be very different. Each culture has different rules and styles of communication and behavior in an interview setting. If you are interviewing for a job in the United States, you need to learn about “American style” interviewing. What is it that employers expect in an interview in the United States? How is it that candidates present themselves? You may find that ways of communicating and “selling yourself” in the United States are very different than in your home country and may even be uncomfortable for you. Therefore it is critical that you learn as much as you can about “American interviewing” and practice, before you get to the “real” interview. Again, Career Services has many services and resources to assist you including:
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Job Search Assistance
How to find a position in the United States will differ depending upon the type of employer and type of position. It is important that you understand how different types of American employers go about recruiting for their positions, so that you use the most effective methods in your search. These methods may include: campus interviewing, attending career fairs, on-line job listings (such as Wildcat JobLink), internships or networking. Again, Career Services has many services and resources to assist you in both learning how to conduct an effective search and in conducting the search itself. These include:
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Finding Permanent Employment
Many International Students would like to work beyond their practical training period in the United States and even get a permanent position. This can be difficult. If you are here on a student visa, the terms of your admission to the United States is for study not permanent employment. Federal regulations require that practical training or academic training end at the conclusion of the authorized period; however, an F1 student (or J1 student who is not subject to a two-year physical presence requirement) may continue to be employed, provided that both a petition and a change of status application are filed with and approved by the USCIS. Such a petition is usually filed for H-1B (Temporary Worker) status. The H-1B status may be authorized for a total of six years, and is intended for professional employment. The application process can take several months and the process for the employer involves:
- petitioning the government for an H1-B,
- obtaining approval from the Labor Department, and
- absorbing some fees
Neither Career Services nor International Student Programs and Services are equipped to assist students with the H1-B process. It is beyond our scope and expertise.
Some of the Web sites listed in the Web site section, may have useful information about this process.
Do not limit your job search to the US, but use GoingGlobal, an excellent web resource through the Career Services website, to search internationally. The GoingGlobal Country Career Guides provide advice on such topics as employment trends, recruiters, staffing agencies, work permit regulations, salary ranges, resume writing guidelines, professional and trade associations, and cultural advice, geared to the specific country. The USA City Guides have information on business and networking groups, job search resources, cost of living data and more. H-1B employer listings are included in each City Guide, as well as a state-by-state roster. The job Postings and Internship Listings section contains job/internship listings from large companies where the jobs can be searched worldwide by industry, country and key word. The Key Employer Directory features corporate profiles for 25,000 multinational companies.
Meet with a Career Services Counselor
Each International Student’s job search circumstances may be different. Often it can be helpful to make an appointment with one of the Career Services counselors to talk about your particular circumstances and develop a job search plan targeted to those circumstances. In order to make your session with a counselor more productive, make sure you are familiar with some of the services and resources mentioned in this webpage before you meet with him or her.
International Students Web Resources
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