Be an expert on your work authorization options.
Don’t expect that your employer will understand how the hiring process works for international students. There are a lot of misconceptions about the process which may lead some employers to be wary of hiring international students. You need to be the expert so you can help educate the employer.
Read through the work authorization information for your student visa on the ISSS website. If you are on an F-1 student visa, attend the CPT and/or OPT workshops that are offered each semester. Understand the employer’s role when hiring an international student by reading through the Employer’s Guide to Hiring International Students.
Build a relationship with the employer first.
While you don’t want to wait until you receive a job offer to mention that you’re on an F-1 or J-1 visa, this shouldn’t be the first thing you discuss with a potential employer. You can use networking and informational interviewing to get an idea of the company culture and whether they are familiar with hiring international students. As you network and interview for positions, highlight the skills and strengths that you would bring to that organization first. Then let the employer know that you have work authorization through your student visa. Be prepared to help educate the employer on how the hiring process works with your visa.
Advocate for yourself.
Some employers are hesitant to hire international students because they are unclear on how the process works. You can advocate for yourself by explaining what the employer’s role is when hiring an international student. Help them see that there is no extra cost to hire you when you are utilizing your CPT or OPT benefits. Another common concern is whether they want to invest in an international student who can only work for them for 1-3 years (STEM international students have the option to extend their OPT work authorization). Consider sharing with employers that NACE reported 55.3% of recent college grads will leave their job within the first year. Finally, know that Career Services is here to advocate on your behalf as well. Please feel free to refer employers who need additional help to our office.