Job Search for International Students
No matter your connections or credentials, job searching is a difficult process. International students, though, face a unique set of obstacles that can further complicate things: confusion over work authorization, employers hesitant to do extra paperwork, those concerned about candidates whose first language isn’t English, and so on. These certainly aren’t always fair, but it’s important that international job-seekers anticipate the challenges and prepare accordingly.
Challenge: The complexity and resulting confusion of hiring international students
Many employers lack experience with hiring international applicants and, as a result, make incorrect assumptions — that the process is too time-consuming, too costly, etc. To counteract this, we recommend becoming “mini-experts” on work visas. Attend curricular practice training (CPT) and optional practice training (OPT) workshops put on by UW International Student Services (ISS) and research the H-1B visa process. Practice explaining the topic in just a few sentences.
Here’s how you might approach the subject at a networking event (it probably fits most naturally after you’ve given your elevator pitch):
“Does your company hire international applicants on student visas?”
“Are you familiar with hiring students for CPT or OPT? I’m an international student interested in applying for a position with your company.”
The former option is a little more open-ended while the latter is more direct. If the recruiter’s initial response is to mention the complexity or costs associated with international hires, politely suggest the process might be more straightforward than they assume:
“The process for international hires is actually easier than a lot of people think. There isn’t any additional financial cost to the employer, and securing a student visa only takes about two weeks. There is some extra paperwork involved, but completing that is the student’s responsibility.”
From there, the conversation could head in a variety of directions, so it’s good to have a number of knowledge nuggets in your arsenal. Know the rules on getting credit for internships (they vary by program), start dates (you must have been at the UW for at least three quarters before starting, and can’t do so mid-quarter), and transitioning from an internship to full-time position.
When discussing full-time employment, you’ll touch on many of the same points as above, but may get into more specifics on OPT and H-1B visas. Know that MLIS graduates can only work one year of OPT, while INFO, MSIM, and PhD graduates can do up to three — again, at no additional cost to the company.
Be careful to not come across aggressively during these conversations, but know that some level of assertiveness is both necessary and acceptable.
Read more about student visas here.
Challenge: Some companies just won’t budge
Despite your best efforts, some employers will still be resistant to hire international students. Fortunately, there are companies that’re on record as being open to international hires. Where you can find them:
- GoinGlobal. Provided by the UW Career & Internship Center, GoinGlobal helps job and internship seekers find opportunities both at home and abroad. When you click on the link above, you’ll be prompted to login with your UW NetID. From there, click on the “H1B Visas” link at the top of the page. You’ll then be able to search a database of employers that hire international students by specific occupation, company, and location. For the best results, try first narrowing your search by metro area, then sort by company.
- MyVisaJobs.com. Founded by immigrants, this site bills itself as “an information portal and online community for visa job hunters around the world.” Search for jobs or get detailed information on different types of work authorization.
- LinkedIn’s alumni tool. If you know international students that’ve graduated from the iSchool and are now employed, check LinkedIn to see where they’re working.
Additional tips and resources
- Continue to network. Personal and professional connections lead to between 70 and 80 percent of job offers. Continue reaching out to classmates, attending career fairs, participating in student and community organizations, and setting up information interviews. If a company doesn’t already have a practice of hiring international students, they’re probably more likely to change their policy if you have an established relationship with one of their employees.
- Watch this video of international MSIM students giving tips and suggestions for career success.
- Check out the Career & Internship Center’s document covering on-campus employment. On-campus jobs don’t require sponsorship.
- Explore Firsty Year Programs’ comprehensive list of resources for UW’s international community.
(Please RSVP via iCareers for any iSchool event you plan to attend, unless otherwise noted.)
2/27: Optional Practice Training (OPT) Session; 12:30-1:30pm, BLD 070
UW ISS will be giving a presentation on OPT. Get information on eligibility requirements, how and when to apply for OPT, the STEM OPT extension, and more.
2/28: Career Conversations: Imposter Syndrome; 12:30-1:30pm, MGH 015H
Imposter syndrome is the feeling or belief that you’ve been given something you didn’t earn or don’t deserve. Join Alycia for a conversation on overcoming this obstacle in the workplace.
3/1: Voyager Capital Hangout; 10:00-11:00am, MGH 416 (iLounge)
Ever thought of starting your own company? Or joining the rocket-ship ride as a startup goes from a handful of employees to hundreds? Local startup attorney Joe Wallin (Carney Badley Spellman) and venture investor Randall Lucas (Voyager Capital) welcome your questions and thoughts.
3/2: Professional Development Panel: PMs; 12:30-2:00pm, OUGL 220
Ever wonder what a PM at a technology company actually does? Curious about the difference between project, program, and product management? Have you questions answered by local PMs.
Career & Internship Center
2/24: Internships for International Students; 2:30-3:00pm, MGH 134
2/28: Interviewing Lab; 3:30-4:20pm, MGH 134
3/1: Grad Students and Postdocs: Translating Research into Career Opportunities; 5:00-7:00pm, HUB 334
For additional events, visit the iSchool and Career Center websites.
Top job/internship opportunities:
- Competitive Intelligence & Innovation Intern, Disney Parks and Resorts Digital; iCareers ID 5852
- Security & Infrastructure Consultant – Intern, West Monroe Partners; HuskyJobs ID 112143
- Customer Technology Consultant – Intern, West Monroe Partners; HuskyJobs ID 112145
- Software Developer, Quorum Analytics; iCareers ID 5850
- Children’s Librarian, Whatcom County Library System; iCareers ID 5858
- Library Consultant, WA Office of the Secretary of State; iCareers ID 5861