Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
August 1, 2012
According to the Institute of International Education, there are more than 723,000 international college students in the United States, an increase of 4.7 percent from last year.
“The challenges for career services include meeting the needs of an increasing number of highly motivated international students who either want to work in United States after graduation or gain U.S. working experience to take back to their countries,” explains Gillian Steele, managing director of the career center at DePaul University.
Steele points out that this primary challenge is exacerbated by several factors, such as limited visas with strict controls regarding who meets criteria, cultural and linguistic challenges of students, and employers’ increasing use of their internship programs as pipelines to full-time employment which often means they don’t want to employ an intern who cannot work in the United States after graduation.
Following are some tips from Steele for career services professionals assisting international students:
- Get involved in international student orientation programs to encourage use of career services.
- Develop and conduct customized career-related workshops for international students that address cultural differences, and show how to write an effective resume, and network and interview in the United States.
- Hold an international student forum with a panel of international alumni, employers, and attorneys talking about challenges and best practices.
- Develop an alumni network of former international students that current students can access.
- Create a job-search guide for international students.
- Bring in a local immigration attorney to talk to both students and employers about visa processes.
- Bring in recruiters for interview preparation, including mock interviews.
- Document on your website for employers the value of international students and guidelines about Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training that enables international students to work as interns or employees.
- Ask employers if they hire international students; if they don't, explain the benefits and process.
- Identify international internship opportunities with alumni working in other countries.
- Hold a virtual International Student Job Fair.
- Gather and analyze international student career outcomes at graduation and use the data to set expectations regarding job opportunities.
- For linguistic challenges:
- Pair international students with domestic students learning their language.
- Suggest that international students take pronunciation courses available online or enroll in a public speaking program such as Toastmasters.
Steele also recommends some online resources that may be helpful:
- American Chambers of Commerce Abroad (www.uschamber.com/international/directory)—Directory of American companies and individuals doing business in a particular country, as well as firms and individuals of that country that operate in the United States.
- H-1B Visa Jobs and Sponsorship Portal (www.H1Bvisajobs.com)—Advice about applying for H-1B and list of H-1B sponsors.
Gillian Steele facilitated the peer-to-peer session “Hello International Students: How Can We Help You?” during the NACE 2012 Conference.