Preparation Stories + Advice

U.S. Internship and Job Search Strategies for International Students

As an international student, job hunting may be a little more complicated for you than it is for domestic students. However, as BC alum Vinern Leow ’16 points out in his blog, there are many ways that your experience as an international student actually helps you to positively stand out! If you’re planning to search for internships or jobs in the U.S., here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • Learn about U.S. immigration laws. Immigration laws can be confusing and contain many acronyms like CPT, OPT, and H1-B. Luckily we have experts on campus in the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS). Prior to starting your job or internship search you should meet with an OISS advisor to learn more about what your options are. It is especially important to visit OISS early if you are searching for full time employment after graduation. This type of work generally requires Optional Practical Training (OPT), which must be authorized by the Immigration Service and can take 3-4 months to be approved.

    It is also important to know that any U.S. employment off-campus must be directly related to your field of study. When choosing your major, consider what types of internships and jobs would be directly related. If you’re not sure, come chat with a career coach about options! When considering your major and classes keep in mind that in order to have an internship it must either be 1) required for your degree or dissertation OR 2) for academic credit towards your degree.
  • Build your network. Networking is one of the most effective ways students find out about positions and get hired. It is easy to build your network starting with BC alumni. Create an EagleExchange account and visit this blog post to learn how to find connections and how to set up a job shadow. Once you have set up a time to shadow or chat with an alumnus, make sure you’re prepared with good questions to ask them.
  • Become confident with interviewing. In addition to the Career Center’s online resources, you can also make an appointment for a mock interview with a Career Coach or practice on your own using Big Interview.
  • Research international employee friendly employers. Some employers sponsor international students more often than others. Increase your chances of getting hired and sponsored by applying to organizations who have a history of sponsoring international students. Use MyVisaJobs and GoinGlobal to find these employers. You can also filter employers in EagleLink who may offer sponsorship under the “Work Authorization” filter in the “more filters” section.
  • Consider gaining skills and experience through on-campus employment and campus involvement. While you still need OISS approval for on-campus employment, most international students are eligible to work up to 20 hours/week on campus after your first semester. Check out the on-campus job listing here. Involvement in clubs and organizations are also a great way to gain leadership skills and to find other students on campus with similar interests. As a bonus, you don’t need any work authorization to get involved with campus clubs and organizations!
  • Showcase your multicultural skills. As an international student you likely have a very diverse set of skills that include cross-cultural competency, language skills, flexibility and adaptability. You have also shown a willingness to travel, seek new experiences, and adapt to a different culture. In addition to the great skills you have developed through your travels, also be sure to develop the skills that employers value and that will make you “career-ready”.
  • Have multiple plans. Expand your opportunities by applying for positions in the US, your home country, and perhaps even a third country! This will allow you to have a greater variety of options and you might find a great job that you hadn’t previously considered. GoinGlobal has country-specific guides to help you apply to jobs all over the world. 
—By Salome Miclette, Assistant Director, Career Education

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