We are often impressed by the flexibility, adaptability and courage of our international students, who are taking coursework while conducting a job search in their non-native language. So it is not surprising that a U.S. job search is more complex and takes longer, largely due to several factors, including: 1) you are adapting to U.S. business culture and may need to take some time to learn business etiquette, how to network and build relationships, and how to converse and interview with confidence in your non-native language; 2) it takes an international student more time to develop a U.S. career search strategy because you need to familiarize yourself with U.S. companies and industries for your target list; and 3) you’ll need to become an expert on U.S. visa policy so you can remain compliant as well as have the ability to educate a potential employer so that it is easier for them to hire you. Given the complexity of the international student job search in the U.S., you should anticipate that your search will take a great deal of time, energy and focus.
Working with the Office of Career Management is important to every student’s job search, but it is especially important for international students. A career search focused solely on FisherConnect and company websites is rarely successful for international students because of online filters and the number of applications companies receive. A successful career search for an international student is targeted, tailored and makes extensive use of networking. The career consultants in Career Management are prepared to work with you to develop an individualized strategy for your career search, based on your goals. In addition, your close collaboration with the Office of Career Management is a great way to develop your written and verbal communication, especially as it relates to cover letters, email correspondence, networking and interviewing.
Networking is an integral part of your career search, and often times, can be the differentiator between students that are able to secure positions and those that are not. Many jobs are not posted on job boards, thus making it necessary to know several people within your target companies so that you can learn of positions that may be available. Even when jobs are posted, it is simply not enough to apply online. We strongly encourage students to find contacts within companies/industries/functions that are of interest to you, seek out and develop professional relationships with those contacts, stay in touch with them often, and utilize your personal and professional connections to help get your resume selected from the online applicant pool.
Our advice to you as an international student – start with your networking early and make sure to focus on it often! Networking is the best way for international students to overcome challenges related to visa sponsorship.
Many students underestimate the amount of time it takes to implement a successful career search. We often tell students that “finding a job IS a job.” It is important to recognize this and apply a persistent, daily approach to your search. This means that you should spend a dedicated amount of time each day on your search doing the following:
- Developing and refining your resume, cover letter and networking emails
- Exploring target career paths
- Identifying networking contacts
- Reaching out to networking contacts and arranging an informational interview
- Developing a target company list
- Practicing your pitch and interview skills
International students in particular are often not clear on the fact that their job search process will be longer and will involve more networking and relationship-building. It is also important to realize that many countries, including the U.S., have a complex process for allowing international candidates to work in their country. It is important to thoroughly understand U.S. immigration policy, remain compliant and be able to educate a potential employer on the ways in which you can work in this country. While many employers state that they are unable to hire international students, many of these same companies make exceptions to this rule. Having a focused career search strategy and building relationships with as many people in your target companies and industries is a key factor in finding employment in the U.S.
For more information on employment eligibility for international students, visit the Office of International Affairs website.
Finally, it is important to become as involved as possible in the Fisher and OSU community. Some students make the mistake of socializing only with students from their home country and not becoming involved with a broad and diverse group of classmates. Push yourself out of your comfort zone; become involved on campus and connect with the entire Fisher and OSU community.
Communication skills are critical to the job search process. If your goal is to work in the United States, English language skills, both written and verbal, as well as listening and reading comprehension, can have a major influence on your career and internship search. Networking, career fairs, cover letters, emails and interviews are all key tools in the application and interview process, and all rely heavily on your ability to write and speak clearly and concisely. Many of these instances also require that you be able to sustain casual conversation that has little to do with your past experience or qualifications and is heavily influenced by culture.
With ongoing economic challenges, hiring in the U.S. has decreased among both domestic and international candidates. Growth is rebounding more rapidly in developing countries such as China and India and other economies across Asia, so it makes sense to keep your options open in your home country. With any search, it is advisable to have both a primary and secondary area of focus for your search. In tandem with your U.S. search, develop a target company list for your home country, identify networking contacts, and contact them for informational interviews if possible. It may be helpful to consider conducting informational interviews in person if you are going home for a break, for example. We encourage all students to have a multi-faceted job search which leverages opportunities through Fisher, your own target company list, and your professional and personal network
Please review the Checklist for Success below which provides several practical action steps.
Yes, it is true that some companies do not recruit/hire students who require visa sponsorship for positions in the United States. If you are an international student with an F-1 student visa, you are in the United States for the primary purpose of completing academic coursework.
The recruiting/hiring process is highly competitive for both domestic and international students, with many international students having the additional challenge of needing sponsorship (H1-B sponsorship) for full-time career employment in the United States.
Despite the additional visa challenge, some international students are successful every year when they are proactive, persistent and actively utilizing the resources available to them. Based on their work experience and unique skill set, students earning graduate degrees tend to have greater success securing employment.
In addition, the U.S.-based job search is heavily dependent on networking and relationship building and not solely on academics/grades, class ranking, or technical/hard skills. It is the ‘soft’ skills including interpersonal communication skills, relationship management skills, and leadership that are attractive to prospective employers as well. International students who quickly understand the nuances of the U.S. job search, hone their language skills, engage with the resources available, and actively network and build relationships with employers are those who will have a greater chance of securing employment.
There are a variety of companies who recruit and make offers to international students from Fisher. In the past, offers received, especially those in the United States, came as a result of students’ proactive, persistent, patient and positive approach to their career search and networking. Most of the students who successfully secured offers within three months of graduation worked closely with a career consultant to develop and execute a targeted career search. We encourage you to meet with the Office of Career Management to create a target company list and discuss your strategy.
Absolutely! Getting involved in student organizations provides international students with great leadership and networking opportunities. Participating in student organizations provides an added chance to learn and demonstrate your teamwork abilities and cross-cultural communication skills. While you are welcome and encouraged to join the student organization associated with your specific country/culture and major, do not make those the only organizations you join. We encourage you to increase and broaden your cultural exposure by joining one of the many other organizations active at Ohio State and in the local community. To review a list of registered student organizations at Ohio State, visit the Student Organization Directory.
There are a variety of resources available to you throughout your job search process. While the job search consultants in the Office of Career Management will serve as a great resource to you, we also have a number of online resources and guides for your reference. These resources cover a variety of topics including developing communications, preparing for case and behavioral interviews and networking. Be sure to spend some time reviewing the Student Resources page on the Career Management website.
Changing functions or industries post-graduate degree can be difficult for any student, as it is a challenge to show potential employers your relevant and transferrable skill sets. You also have the additional challenge of building a new network in a different industry or function. However, it is feasible to do if you are willing to put in the extra work and effort needed to make such a change. It will be imperative that you look for new opportunities that build off of your previous strengths. We encourage you to seek out internships, projects, relevant coursework and certifications relative to your desired career path.
Additionally, it is important to note that it is not always feasible to enter into a new industry or function at the same or higher level as your previous role. Employers may recognize that you have a number of years of work experience, but it may not be viewed as relevant experience.
If you are unable to secure an internship, we highly encourage you to spend summers doing other activities that can help build your resume and add value to your educational experience. These activities may include working directly with a professor here at Fisher on a research project, participating in local volunteer roles, studying for and earning specific certifications that are focused on an industry and/or function, and working with student organizations throughout the summer. Please keep in mind that most off-campus experiences, whether paid or unpaid, will require CPT authorization.