If you are an international student getting ready to graduate from a college or university in the US, you already have a lot on your mind. Chances are, one of the most pressing worries is the prospect of finding a job after college. Whether you intend to go back to your home country or stay in the US and pursue a career, finding a job after graduation takes a lot of hard work.
Don’t wait until you graduate before you begin the job search. As you complete your degree, start your job search and see whether you can do an internship with an organization that will sponsor work visas.
Not only does this allow you to get your foot in the door and gain experience, but you have more time to establish relationships and improve the chance of getting sponsorship after graduation.
The more you know about the visa process, your different possibilities, deadlines, and costs, the more prepared and confident you will feel when applying for jobs. Know which companies sponsor visas, what you need to do to get authorization, and how long the process takes.
The best place to start your planning is at your school’s International Students Office and Career Development Center. These resources can provide you with more general information on what to do after graduation and inform you about your specific opportunities. Your school’s career services likely have a lot of experience in dealing with international students and will be able to help you. You might try setting up a meeting with a career coach to discuss your specific situation and goals. Attend career fairs and talk to recruiters, build relationships and follow up with them for potential interviews.
In general, as an international student, you will have 60 days after graduation to either enroll in another college program for further studies or enroll in an OPT program to gain employment after you graduate from college on an F-1 visa.
The OPT program allows you to extend your F-1 visa status for a year while you work, train, or intern in your area of study. Applying for an OPT program can take several months, so you should apply several months before graduation.
If you want to stay in the US for a longer period of time, you will need a company to sponsor you for an H-1b non-immigrant visa. This visa will allow you to remain employed at that company for three years.
The best way to find your future employer is to begin networking early. Around 70% of jobs are filled through solid connections. Take advantage of your college community and talk to alumni groups who have gone through the same processes. Build relationships with your professors or even with the parents of your friends at school. Attending career fairs and doing CPT internships is another great way to get you ahead of the game.
Make sure you have an up to date resume that lists all your achievements and experiences. When talking to potential employers, be positive and try to stand out by focusing on your unique strengths.
Spending a lot of time trying to find a job without result can be extremely frustrating. Make sure you don’t give up. Smiling and being positive about your abilities will show confidence and will inspire employers to want to invest in you.