After you’ve graduated from your U.S.-based university, one glaring question remains: Am I going to find a job after graduation?
Every international student is haunted by this question.
You have to choose whether you want to go back to your home country, or find a job in the United States. Students are usually stuck with either the burden of shouldering low-paying jobs, or returning to their home countries.
Continue reading to understand the prospects of getting a job after graduation, as well as tips on how you can land a job.
Your degree plays a major role
Having a degree means you’re already ahead in the race. You have the technical skills and academic knowledge required for the job. This gives you an advantage over those without a degree, and also gives you a higher earning potential.
If you’ve performed well in your major courses, you’ll be more desirable to your employers. Some employers may not care about your overall GPA, but if you’re able to convey that what you have learned in your major can apply directly to your job, your appeal drastically increases. Practical knowledge is valued more than theoretical knowledge when it comes to getting a job after graduation.
Understand the biases that exist
Companies in the U.S. are usually reluctant about hiring international students. If you’ve applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT), employers may be biased against you.
As you’re a non-resident, you’ll have to ask your company to sponsor you after you’re done with your OPT period (36 months for STEM majors and 12 months for other majors).
This is because you have to apply for a temporary specialty occupation work visa. U.S. companies might not be willing to go through the documentation unless you prove that you’re an asset to the company. You have to prove that your skillset cannot be replaced by that of a U.S. citizen. Residents do not have to face such challenges.
There isn’t anything you can do about such preexisting biases. So, be mentally prepared to face these challenges when searching for a job after graduation.
Where you’re situated also matters
As an international student, finding a job after graduation is easier in some states. States like New York, California, and Texas are more accommodating to international workers. In these states, you’ll find more job opportunities and have a better chance of being sponsored.
Likewise, you’ll find more companies willing to sponsor you in larger cities than in small towns.
Research and locate states and cities that have companies with the resources to sponsor students from your desired career.
Understand the rules and regulations of working in the U.S.
Before you start applying for a job after graduation, gather all the information you need regarding working in the U.S. Read up about the visa process and deadlines to make sure you are eligible to work in the U.S.
Once you have the information, look for companies that can help you through the process.
Now that you’re familiar with the job environment of the U.S., here are some tips that can help you get a job after graduation.
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Apply and plan early
- Start visiting the Career Services Office at your college in your freshman year.
- Pick a major that will help you land a job after graduation.
- Network as much as possible with professors and fellow students in your department.
- Start your job hunt at the beginning of your final year.
- Try to intern at a company that sponsors work visas, and establish solid relationships.
Remember, you have only 90 days to look for a job after graduation. After this, you’ll be required to leave the United States. Before you make a commitment, ensure that your company is willing to sponsor you. If you work for 70 days and get fired, you only have 20 days to look for a new job after graduation. So, start looking for a stable job as soon as possible.
Don’t contain yourself to the walls of your classroom
Learning in the classroom will prepare you for your job after graduation, but everyone’s doing that and you need to differentiate yourself.
Field experience is one way to distinguish yourself. Get some experience in the area you want to work in. If you’re unsure, pick a job that provides soft skills like time management, organization, and responsibility. These are skills that every employer actively seeks, because you’ll undergo training for the job-oriented hard skills.
Getting an internship while you’re still in college is the best way to accomplish this. You can apply for unpaid or paid, part-time or full-time internships. Just make sure that it fits with your academic schedule.
Note: If you’re on an F1 visa, start with a CPT (Curricular Training Practical) internship. You can find an internship based on your major and receive academic credit for it.
Network and build friendships
In college, your friendships shouldn’t be limited to your personal life. Use your friendships in your professional life as well. You can meet your next business partner in school, or get hired with the help of your friend.
Network with other students, mentors, and professionals. Building good relationships with your professors is crucial. They know important people in your discipline and their recommendation carries a lot of weight.
Even years into the future in your professional life, these connections will come in handy. So, attend as many social events as you can. The relationships you build could lead to your dream job after graduation.
A good resume will take you a long way in your job search
Your resume is the first thing your potential employer will see. Look up templates online to format your resume, and give an overview of your education, experience, and skills.
Make sure that your resume is no longer than one page. You can tweak your resume to meet the criteria of the job requirements.
Your CV and cover letter also help determine whether you’ll be called for an interview or not.
Use your campus resources to your advantage
Your university has plenty of resources to help you find a job after graduation. Locate the Career Services and the International Office on your campus, and visit them frequently.
These offices can answer all of your questions and guide you. They’ll help you find interviews and job listings. They’ll also assist with what attire you should wear to an interview, as well as conduct one-on-one mock interviews.
Attend all the sessions regarding OPT. Your college will educate you about the program, and also help you apply. Your advisor will make sure that you meet the deadlines and that all your forms are in place. In case your OPT gets rejected, your advisor will also help you reapply and inform you about the possible reasons for failure.
Picking the right company is the key to finding a job in the U.S. You can use your college resources, make a LinkedIn account, and look for jobs online. When you find a job posting, think about what you can learn from it, and if you have adequate qualifications to actually be an asset at the company. Apply for as many jobs as you can. The higher the number, the higher your chances of being accepted.
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