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Career Services

International Students

Useful Resources/Links

What special skills do I bring to the job market? 
As an international student, you have a number of assets. These assets may include: knowing more than one language, having been exposed to other cultures, and traveling and living in another country. All of these assets have probably made you more adaptable and can be used by you to "sell" yourself to a potential employer.

What skills should I develop?   
As with all students, you will need to develop skills in preparing a resume, writing a cover letter, and interviewing. You may need to pay particular attention to communication skills, especially if English is not your first language. 

Communication goes beyond language, though. The culture you were raised in may have different attitudes toward assertiveness, eye contact, self-disclosure, or timeliness. It is important for a successful search that you be able to present yourself in a way that the prospective employer can appreciate. It may be beneficial for you to engage in volunteer activities, jobs, and/or internships to gain practical experience needed for your field.  

When should I start my job/internship search?
Start as soon as you can. Try to avoid spending any of your 12-month, F-1 training period looking for work. You do not need to have a job to apply for your Optional Practical Training. 

Applications are accepted for H-1B visas in April of the preceding year. The 2018 cap was met in 1 week. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has met their cap of 65,000 petitions within the first week during the last several years. The federal government's fiscal year begins in October of the preceding year, so the 2018 fiscal year H-1B cap was met 6 months before the year started.

How is the search different in the U.S. than overseas?
The job search in the U.S. is both more and less formal than in many other countries. The U.S.  job search relies on formal cover letters, professional image, timeliness, and thank-you notes after interviews. At the same time, most jobs are found through unofficial means, such as networking. 

Where should I focus my search?
You may want to consider applying for companies that have a history of hiring international graduates before. They may be more familiar with the process, and thus more open to considering hiring non-U.S. citizens.

You may also want to look for employers that have ties to your home country (for example, offices, plants, or marketing divisions). Those companies may take an interest in developing your talents in the United States and continuing your employment in your home country. If there is not a company with ties to your home country, you might consider working for another international company. You can find these companies by using database such as Hoover’s Online through CWU Library webpage.

You should contact your embassy or consulate. Many maintain lists of contacts for employment. Finding work will often be easier with a company that is familiar with the process of employing an international graduate.

When should I reveal that I'm an international student?
The short answer is: as soon as you can reasonably do so. There are employers that are reluctant to hire international students; some have a policy of not hiring non-U.S. citizens, others may be hesitant because they never hired one before.

Much of the job search process is dependent on honesty and trust. If you wait too long, it will look like you are trying to hide it. An employer may be able to guess based on your education, experience, or references, and your reluctance to discuss it may imply that it is a bigger problem than it really is.

You do not necessarily want to highlight your background on your resume or cover letter, but you should disclose as soon as you have had a chance to market yourself and feel that employers might be interested in hiring you. Be prepared to address your status at first or second interview but no later than at the time of job offer.

If employers seem reluctant because they have never hired an international student and think it will be a complicated process, you can take this as an opportunity to let them know that the process of hiring an OPT student is no different than hiring an American student. Also, you want to educate yourself on H-1 visa process so that you can answer your prospective employer's concerns confidently and accurately. When you are applying for a job with OPT, it may not be wise to ask if employers will sponsor you for H-1B after your OPT expires. You want to secure a job first and let employer see what a great asset you are to the company before initiating a conversation for H-1B. If they bring up the topic, however, it is acceptable to discuss it. It is important that you use the word 'petition' to describe the process, as employers may associate any reference to 'sponsor' with the (more complicated) process of permanent residency. 

What else should I keep in mind?
Market yourself positively. Your international status can be an asset. By living abroad, you have demonstrated flexibility, resourcefulness, and tenacity. If you are multilingual, use that to your advantage. Make sure potential employers know that hiring you has more advantages than disadvantages. 

Be flexible, patient and persistent. The job search takes time. Because you will need to find a position with an employer who is willing to work with you regarding your visa status, it may take more time or flexibility. You will have more options open to you if you work outside your sub-specialty, or if you broaden your search geographically. Finding a job as an international student is a challenge, but it is not impossible. 

Networking is very important. Most jobs in the US are never advertised. By keeping in touch with relatives, friends, alumni, professors, or embassy contacts, you help them to remember to mention you to the person who is thinking that they need to hire someone in your field. 

How can Career Services help?
The career counselors at Career Services can help in a number of ways. They can give you advice on where to look, review your resume and cover letter, help you prepare for interviews, and answer questions you may have about job hunting process. Call 509-963-1921 to schedule an appointment. 

All of this information is accurate, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of writing. Please do your own research to double check the current law before assuming that the law has not changed.


Useful Resource/Links

CWU International Studies
CWU International Studies and Programs
Off-campus Employment (CPT)

US State Department
Student Visa Info
Temporary Worker Classifications
Visas for Canadian and Mexican NAFTA Professional Workers
Temporary Religious Workers  
Forms & Fees

US Citizenship & Immigration Service
Employment Authorization Document information 
H-1B visa
Finding Legal Service  

Legal Advice
American Immigration Lawyers Association
AILA search page

Search Sites
Career Builder International listings
International Student Job Search Center

Other Useful Links

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Questions? Contact Career Services at (509) 963-1921 or

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