The first question I am asked of International Students who join our program at A&M is how an international student can be have a successful job search in the United States. We talk networking, yet those new to our country worry their only network is in their home country. International students struggle with approaching companies of interest only to be told the company does not sponsor H1B Visas. I could go on for paragraphs talking about the struggles. Let’s cover my top five tips for any international student seeking employment in the US.
1. First and foremost, the main goal upon graduation is to be employed in your area of interest. PERIOD! If you want to go into consulting, then your main goal is to find employment in consulting. Right? This means, you have to look for employment opportunities in the United States, your home country or anywhere in the world. This is the same advice I give domestic students. Never lose sight of the main objective which is to be employed upon graduation in your field of interest.
2. Secondly, you must build a network. And believe it or not, you do have a network in the United States. LinkedIn proves it. You may not have direct contacts just yet, but everyone has indirect networks readily available through Alumni databases, LinkedIn Groups and a general Google people search. Look for alumni from your undergraduate program who are currently in the US and working for companies of interest to you. Join LinkedIn groups directed to your profession. Look for individuals or groups of individuals who have gone through the process before you and start building rapport. Please visit some of my previous posts on how to initiate converations through Social Media outlets or those I have shared through Twitter.
3. Decrease the amount of time you spend “Applying Online.” Creating a job search strategy that includes next steps after the application to creatively connect with Alumni or hiring managers. Never forget that a successful job search makes “applying online” a step in the process not the entire process.
4. Check with your campus career center and see if they subscribe to GoingGlobal. This service is one my favorites for International Students. It provides Visa and job search trends around the world as well as a list of companies by state and city that applied for and received H1Bs in the previous year.
5. Purchase a copy of Dan Beaudry’s amazing book “Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States.” While this is my fifth tip, it might be the most important of all. I have almost worn out my copy with my continuous reference back to some of his tried-and-true suggestions. I keep my copy within reaching distance, and you should as well.
It is no secret that International Students seeking employment in the United States have challenges to overcome, but it is important to remember that your ultimate goal is to be employed in a position and with a company that brings you fulfillment and joy. Remind yourself of that everyday and best wishes for a successful job search and future career.