Information for International Students | Working in the US
As the world becomes smaller with the increasing globalization of markets, there are a greater number of international students in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. today than ever before. International students seeking employment have unique and different challenges from domestic students. This section has been developed to provide assistance and advice regarding the job search and being employed in the U.S.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training, also commonly referred to as CPT, refers to temporary employment for practical training that is directly integrated into the curriculum of the student's major area of study. Therefore, CPT can be authorized only if a student is earning academic credit for the employment or if it is required for the degree, such as an internship with job responsibilities that are related to the student's major. Students must be in full-time F-1 status for one full academic year before being eligible to apply. It is the student's responsibility to have the CPT authorized by the university. The authorization process typically takes a minimum of 2 weeks. This comes at no cost to the employer, and it is necessary only for off-campus work. Meet with an advisor in the Office of International Student Affairs early and often, as regulations change.
Chinese International Students:
Follow the Official Zarb Graduate Business Career Services (GBCS) account on Wechat!
Obtaining an Internship
Internships help you gain valuable work experience related to your field of study and introduce you to US employers. If you make a great impression on an employer during this experience, your supervisor may also be more willing to hire you full-time once you graduate. Having relevant internships on your resume while you are obtaining your MBA/MS degree will give you a competitive advantage when looking for a job when you graduate. It is highly recommended that you attend the Job and Internship Search workshop and other Career Workshops given by Graduate Business career service during your first year. Learning the skills taught in these workshops will greatly increases your chances of landing an internship. After you have received an internship offer, follow the "Zarb Registration Process for Credit Bearing Internship".
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), students with F-1 visas who have completed at least one year of full-time academic study are eligible to work full-time for 12 months. Students holding Science, Technology, Engineering, Quantitative Finance or Math degrees may qualify for an additional 24 months. After the first 12 months, the initial OPT needs to be renewed. Optional Practical Training (OPT) must be directly related to a student's academic major and can be used prior to or after graduation for a paid internship, part-time job and/or full-time position when you work more than 20 hours. This is the typical process for work in the U.S. upon completing your degree, but it is best to consult with an advisor in the Office of International Student Affairs. It can take up to three months to get your OPT, so apply early.
Learn more about available internships by utilizing resources such as Handshake and MBA-Exchange and other Zarb MBA/MS Online Resources.
If an employer wishes to hire a foreign national employee following his/her OPT, the employer may be able to sponsor the individual for an H-1B visa, or Temporary Worker status. The foreign national must have at least a Master's degree or its equivalent in a particular field, and this degree must be a requirement for the job. However, an employer does not have to provide proof that the foreign employee is unique in his/her industry. To obtain H1-B status for a foreign employee, an employer must file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security. This process can take anywhere from two weeks to five months to complete, so an employer should submit the application approximately six months before an employee's OPT expires. An H-1B visa permits a foreign national employee to work an additional one to six years in the U.S. It must be renewed after the first three years are up.
Cultural Differences in the Job Search
United Stated Employment Expectations
International Employment Expectations
As a general rule, do not ask about salary, benefits, vacation or hours until an offer is extended.
The key to gaining work experience in the United States is to PLAN AHEAD!
Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written, are at the top of the list of employer expectations. You should be fluent in English, as you will be expected to communicate clearly with potential employers, your co-workers, clients and supervisors. To strengthen your communication skills, speak English as often as possible - in your home, with your friends and at your job. Look into public speaking classes (see below) to develop your presentation skills and read online publications on a regular basis.
Resume/Cover Letter/Emails/Thank You Letters
Your resume will be the first evidence of your written communication skills. As a first step, attend the resume/cover letter workshop offered by Zarb Graduate Business Career Services. Make sure your resume is carefully written, reflects your accomplishments and has perfect grammar and spelling. We highly recommend that you meet with the Graduate Business Career Services office to prepare an effective resume and/or cover letter once you have reviewed the corresponding section on the website (see link below). Some tips include:
Learning English can be challenging, so here are some suggestions for making it easier. To improve your oral communication skills, take advantage of some of these resources:
Saltzman Center – Visit the weekly foreign language group at this center.
Toastmasters – https://www.toastmasters.org/Find-a-Club
Dale Carnegie – http://www.dalecarnegie.com/
Sayitlikeso – Speech fitness application for speaking clearly and articulating in English http://sayitlikeso.com
Rachel's English www.rachelsenglish.com – tool for pronouncing English sounds more effectively
English Language Speech Assistant - http://www.elsanow.io/ : ELSA is an APP free to download to help non-native English speakers learn the language based on their pronunciation.
English Central - http://www.englishcentral.com/videos : Watch free video lessons and use all basic membership features for free.
Ted Talks - http://www.ted.com/ : Listen to Ted talks to hear outstanding American speakers and thinkers.
The job interview will be your first opportunity for an employer to witness your verbal communication skills. First, review interview practices for various industries and positions by accessing Big Interview through the Hofstra Career Hub. Go to http://hofstra.edu/careerhub and log in with your ID and password. Attend Zarb GBCS "Interview Strategies Workshop." We also suggest that you improve your interviewing skills in a mock (practice) interview by meeting with a Career Consultant so you make a great first impression.
To prepare for a job interview in the U.S., it is important to be aware of the cultural nuances that may be at play during your verbal and non-verbal communication with the employer. In general:
- Thinking "quick on your feet" conveys competence and confidence
- High value is placed on your ability to articulate answers quickly and eloquently
- High value is placed on demonstrating self-reliance (rather than on group/community affiliation)
- High value is placed on individual achievement; solving problems or initiating (rather than modesty)
- High value is placed on relaying content of skill and experience rather than relationships in your communication
- Long periods of silence during the interview are uncommon and may make the interviewer uncomfortable
Very often, first interviews (commonly referred to as "screening interviews") are conducted either by phone or Skype. These are usually 30 minutes or less, to get an idea if you are a fit for the job and the organization. Keep in mind the specific tips below:
- Project your voice; speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard
- Articulate your words carefully
- Put a smile in your voice (people can tell when you are smiling and, when you do, you will come across as more personable and enthusiastic)
- Speak more slowly than when you are in a face-to-face interview
- Conduct the interview in a quiet place with no distracting sounds
Face to Face Interviewing (also known as "live" interviewing)
Face to Face interviews tend to be more comprehensive and are usually conducted by Human Resources and/or a hiring manager. The company representatives are looking to understand your job-specific skills, academic background, career objectives and fit with the company. All of the same tips that were mentioned for phone interviews apply, as well as these:
- Prepare for the interview by knowing your resume completely and thoroughly researching the company
- Research interviewers you are scheduled to meet through LinkedIn or Google
- Share specific examples of your accomplishments through academic and/or work stories
- Don't hesitate to express your skills confidently
- Be concise and keep each answer to 2 minutes or less
- Leverage an enthusiastic tone of voice
- Develop questions about the job and the company to ask at the end of the interview
In addition to what you say and how you say it, keeping these non-verbal tips in mind is equally important:
- Firm handshake
- Ongoing eye contact
- Occasional nods and smiling
- No crossed arms or legs
- Put your phone on silent (not vibrate) before entering the interview
Refer to Big Interview for more "non-verbal" tips and interview skills training.
Access Big Interview through the HOFSTRA CAREER HUB, http://hofstra.edu/careerhub and log in with your ID and password.
Of all jobs available at a given time, only approximately 20-30% are ever advertised. The remaining 70-80% are found through networking. Networking means reaching out to friends, family, classmates, faculty, alumni, co-workers and anyone with whom you come in contact to gather information about industries, companies, career paths and opportunities. However, networking is asking for information and advice, not a job. Informational meetings are a good tool for getting information and advice about careers and companies.
Please see our Professional Networking section to learn more about avenues for networking and follow these tips:
- Attend Professional Networking workshop offered by Zarb GBCS
- Participate in alumni events and Zarb Speaker series throughout the year
- Visit careers fairs sponsored by Zarb/Hofstra, along with externally offered events
- Join one or more student association(s), especially those related to your major
- Develop a professional social media presence, especially on LinkedIn, and attend LinkedIn workshops given by Zarb GBCS
- Related resources: Student Business Associations, Informational Interviewing and Interviewing Skills
Marketing Yourself to Potential Employers
Some of the most marketable skills you have come simply from being an international student in the U.S. Succeeding as an international student requires determination, resourcefulness, flexibility, inter-cultural competency, and the ability to navigate through a different social and cultural system. Market these skills in your resume, within your cover letter and during your interviews.
There are two major obstacles international students may face at the outset of the job search. The first involve employment restrictions imposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the second are the cultural differences that may affect a student's ability to successfully market his or her qualifications to an employer. It is important for you to be aware of these challenges and be prepared to deal with them as best you can.
From the Employer's Perspective
When an employer makes a hiring decision, he/she does so with the hope that this new employee will devote several years to the position and company. It is very costly to hire and train a new individual; therefore, employers are often reluctant to interview or hire international students because of restrictions on length of employment. Some employers, however, may be convinced to change their policies if given a clear understanding of the process to "sponsor" a foreign national on an H-1B visa. In order to properly educate an employer, it is imperative that you clearly understand the process yourself. You must have complete, current and accurate knowledge of your options, and both yours and the employer's responsibilities. You must also be able to clearly explain the process to an employer so that he/she does not see sponsorship as an obstacle in the hiring process. While the employer must legally pay the majority of the H-1B visa filing fee, you may offer to pay for all attorney fees and any additional costs associated with the H-1B filing process.
To review this process in greater detail, meet with an advisor in the Office of International Student Affairs early and often, as regulations may change. Also International students can refer to Study in the States by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to learn about the process and rules for studying in the United States.
Marketing Yourself in the Interview
As an international student, it is important that you sell your unique strengths during the interview. Some of these strengths may include:
- Your fluency in multiple languages
- Global/intercultural competence (Having lived in different countries you have a knowledge of global economies and/or business practices)
- Adaptability and flexibility (e.g. moving to a new country, learning a new language and adapting to new ways of doing things)
- Resourcefulness (e.g. housing, navigating the school environment and course requirements)
Refer to this "Tip Sheet for Speaking to Prospective Employers".
There are more jobs in the U.S. open to international students in the technical fields: (e.g. Information Systems, Business Analytics, and Quantitative Finance) than in other areas. Jobs in accounting may also be in demand.
If you are not able to find employment in the U.S., seeking a job with an internationally based company, one not based in the U.S., may be an excellent back-up. Since you have studied abroad, are multi-lingual and have an excellent degree, you are very marketable to international companies who are looking for many of the skills, much of the experience and some of the knowledge you have acquired in the U.S. (e.g. language and knowledge of overseas economies.) Additionally, companies/organizations that have an existing relationship with your home country may also be interested in hiring you.
Be wary of any employment agency that promises you the job of your dreams in an American company for which you always wanted to work. Any agency that charges you a fee to help you identify job opportunities should be avoided. There are many organizations that prey upon the vulnerability of international students. BE CAUTIOUS. Those agencies that are fee-paid, that is, the hiring company pays the agency to find qualified individuals for jobs, are the better choice. Although there may be exceptions, in general, employment agencies are of little help to inexperienced graduates seeking entry-level positions.