5 Strategies for the International Student U.S. Job Search
If you’re an international student in the midst of the U.S. internship or job search, I don’t have to tell you that the process is hard. Perhaps you came to Babson thinking that simply attending University in the U.S. would open doors to your dream career; or your parents can’t understand why you’re having so much difficulty finding a position; or maybe you’re confused about how to do this “networking” thing successfully. Whether your frustration stems from false expectations, external pressure, or a lack of understanding, you are not alone! While we can’t change U.S. government policies, we can help you best strategize your U.S. job search so that employers see you as more than your F-1 student visa.
1. Improve Comfort with “Small Talk”
Many international students (and non-international students!) are uncomfortable with the style of informal communication that is frequently utilized at job and internship fairs. In the U.S., engaging in “small talk” is a sign of friendliness and professionalism. If these types of interactions cause anxiety, consider preparing some questions and answers that can be used in a variety of scenarios. Take every opportunity to practice–classmates, faculty, waitstaff, drivers; every contact will help you to become more comfortable. Like any interpersonal skill, small talk gets easier with practice.
2. Highlight Unique Skills and Attributes
Instead of leading with, “do you hire international students?” help recruiters and contacts see your international student status as an asset, not a burden. Talk about your language competency, the flexibility and adaptability that is required for you to operate in multiple cultural contexts, your international mobility and knowledge and experience in a market outside of the U.S. These skills are especially advantageous to companies which have a large international presence or focus, like multinational corporations or NGOs.
3. Utilize Your International Network
a. Not only do you have access to over 38,000 alum around the world through the alumni directory and LinkedIn, but you have the opportunity to connect more personally with individuals who have shared your experience adapting to U.S. cultural norms. Leverage your cultural affinity by connecting with alum from your home country; chances are they had U.S. work or internship experience while they were studying at Babson. To help you get in touch, use the Global Alumni Club, take a look at CCD’s annual Career Outcomes Survey data for international alum working in the U.S., and attend conferences sponsored by relevant organizations. Lastly, get involved in one of over 115 student clubs and organizations on campus.
4. Learn to Talk about F-1 Work Eligibility
So you’ve done the hard part and an employer is interested in you, great! Now it’s time to be proactive in understanding the work authorization process. Meet with the Glavin Office or attend an F-1 Employment Options session to prepare. Make sure you communicate that little is required on the part of the employer. This is an opportunity to demonstrate responsibility and reliability to your potential employer.
5. Act Now!
Babson provides endless opportunities for practical experiences throughout the curriculum, UGCCD, and various centers and departments around campus. UGCCD programs like the Management Consulting Field Experience (MCFE), externships, and industry treks, get you face time with real companies and a glimpse into daily operations. These are great supplements to your resume and may also give you some insight on potential career paths. Don’t wait until Junior year to think about gaining practical experience!
As hard as you work to improve your job search strategies, the fact remains that employment in the U.S. for international students is never guaranteed. It is equally important to have a Plan B in the event that you are unable to find employment in the U.S. This could include pursuing a higher degree at a U.S. institution or returning home or to another country for work. CCD can help you with your international job search too!
International Career Series: U.S. Job Search Strategy & Panel
Tuesday, March 1 from 5:45-7:30pm in Reynolds 241
Join BIAA (Business in Asia Association) and CCD for an interactive session on international student job search strategy, leveraging your competitive advantage, and utilizing an international network. Hear from current students and alum as they share their job search successes and challenges.
Check out newly updated “Resources for International Students” webpage