For those of you who are studying in the United States, you are in luck! We are going to talk about how to get a job as an international student here today!
Many international students who are studying in the US have a common bad habit. Unless you are one who is mature and you have done enough research to know what is the job market out there, many of you actually think that getting a job in the US is just like applying for universities. A lot of students underestimated the challenge of getting a decent job in the US and I used to be one of them.
Let me tell you a story of a typical international student who fails to look for a job in the USA.
For example, there is a Malaysian international student like me. He is an accounting degree fresh graduate from a prestigious university in the mid-west. He has been looking for a job for the past 10 months and has applied so many accounting firms and financial institutions around the country. His resume is full of job experiences on campus like washing dishes at the cafeteria, working at the front desk, serving as an RA (Resident Assistant) at the college dorms for a few semesters, and so on. For his internship experience, even though he had worked for an accounting firm with a big name, his daily duties were to make copies, file paperwork and fetch coffee for the managers in an accounting firm for two months.
Honestly, do you think his resume would help him to get a job?
Yeah! He might get an interview if his accounting firm is one of the Big Four. But, how is he going to sell himself at the interview to get a job if he did not really have enough real responsibilities during his internship period?
Well, we all know the answer to that.
If you’re an international student in college in the US, chances are, you’ve met at least a few students like this, or perhaps you might be facing the similar situation as you are listening to this audio or reading this post.
Today, we are going to share with you a little bit about looking for a job in the United States as a F-1 Visa student. Like we have mentioned earlier, many of us take for granted that we will get a full-time job upon graduation. Many of our imagination about our full-time job or career are not quite accurate because most of us do not have any other working experience in the US except working in a chinese restaurant, doing nanny jobs or house sitting.
We tend to think and imagine that we are able to magically decipher every single aspect of our career when we graduate. Some of us even rely our career services to do all the job for us. when most of us should be out there finding out these information for ourselves. Experience is the best way to know if a particular career is a good fit. It also increases your ability and credibility with future employers. Below are a few action steps you can take in getting a job in the United States.
Step 1: Start Early ~
Of course, this step applies to every student which is to start your job hunting process early, especially for international students like us. It will take you longer to find a job with a company that does sponsor employees who need work visas. So, the sooner you start, the better your chances will be!
You want to become an expert on your situation.
The more you know about the visas you need in the country you are currently studying in (eg., J-1, F-1, H1-B, etc. for those in the USA) the different possibilities, deadlines, costs, and so on, the more prepared your are and the more confident you will feel when applying for jobs.
Step 3: Build Up your Resume with Entry-level Experiences ~
Before you start giving up in getting a job here in the States or call Mummy and Daddy from home to take out loans for grad school because you could not look for a full-time job, I highly recommend you to try out your career to make sure it is what you want to do.
Internships and volunteering are great ways to develop professional experiences in your field. Students who lack experience in their career fields should complete one or more internships while working towards their degrees.
According to US Multinationals and the Foreign MBA, more than 53% of foreign survey respondents received a job offer from an American company where they completed an internship.
Obtaining an internship is important not only in terms of resume building but also in terms of its potential to translate into a full-time job after graduation.
Well, what if the company or organization I want to work for doesn’t offer any internships?
Go directly to the staff and offer your service for free.
This works because the company doesn’t have to worry about Curricular Practical Training (CPT) issues (in the US) or any similarly working permit in other foreign coutries; they get free labor and you get free experience on your resume.
As an international student, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door.
Explain why you want to be a part of their organization, and emphasize the experience and skills you hope to gain. Since you’ll be working for free, most organizations are willing to work with your schedule.
A lot of other skills that would help you gain experience are available in the form of workshops and certificate programs outside of your college. Remember, gaining experience is more than just having an awesome education and resume.
It’s about finding out whether a career is a right fit for you.
Step 4: Start Networking ~
First of all, if you think that you’re going to get a job by putting up your resume on Monster.com or CareerBuilder, good luck to you! Unless your dream career is to sell insurance, you’re just asking for spam in your inbox.
Here’s a little nugget of information for you in the reality, “There are over 80% of job openings in your major are not advertised to the public.
Most employers are legally required to keep a record of every application they receive for up to 1-2 years after a hiring period has ended.” When you consider the current job market, you’ll realize that there are more job seekers than there are available positions, therefore, if a company posts a position online, it is promptly flooded with thousands and thousands of resumes from unqualified candidates.
Many of the current job positions are filled by word of mouth.
When a job position opens up, most companies just go directly to their employees and ask them if they know anyone who is qualified and interested in applying for the position.
If you’re not in their employees’ network, you don’t even get to hear about that opening!
Here are some ways to build your network:
a) Join professional associations (i.e., TED Talk conferences, AIESEC, Toastmaster International)
b) Attend business networking events (in your city)
c) Contact your school’s alumni association and find out if it has an online directory. Alumni are a great way to expand your social circle because you already have something in common.
d) Participate in active clubs (on-campus and off-campus)
e) Visit your professors’ office during office or non-office hours to build a personal relationship with them.
And for those who wants to go an extra mile,
f) Invite the recruiters at the career fair on your campus for a coffee or lunch, especially those from the company that you want to intern or work with.
g) Approach local businesses and make appointments with the Human Resource managers or even the business owners.
You will be surprised how many of them are more than willing to meet up with a proactive student like you as long as you are willing to go an extra mile to reach out to them.
Not a lot of college students do that, not even the American kids. It takes lots of guts to do that. But remember this, recruiters and business owners are human beings too!
As the saying goes, “ Build your network before you need it, and your ‘net’ will ‘work’ for you.
Step 5: Keep track of your professional development ~
Every job is a learning experience and it’s important to look back at your professional development and see how far you’ve come, and evaluate how you can continue to grow. The easiest way to do this is to regularly update your resume. Your resume should not just summarize your experience, it should emphasize your accomplishments.
What was the purpose of that research project you were involved with?
How much money did you raise during that fundraising program?
All your promotions, honors and leadership experience should be emphasized. And if you have some numerical results that reflect your performance, put them down on your resume.
Once you are done, have a friend or colleague review and critique your resume. Make sure you ask those who are honest and ready to tell you the brutal truth if your resume actually sucks and needs improvement.
Another great way to track your progress (and ace interviews) is to keep an archive of your work in a portfolio. Portfolios are great tools for job interviews because they provide tangible proofs of your expertise. Your portfolio can contain letters of recommendation, writing samples, photos, proposals, evaluations from other internships-basically anything that visually documents the projects and experiences you’ve been involved in.
Your portfolio can contain letters of recommendation, writing samples, photos, proposals, evaluations from other internships-basically anything that visually documents the projects and experiences you’ve been involved in.
Keeping track of your professional development gives you an idea of where you are and where you need to be, or there is a great old saying, “You have to figure out where you’re coming from to figure out where you’re going to be.”
If you remove all your on-campus job experiences from your resume and it barely fills a page, you’ve got a lot of work to do on adding on more solid job experiences that would help you stand out from your peers.
Well, after doing all of the 5 crucial steps that I suggested, you have definitely increase your chances but you’re still not guaranteed to get a job.
Finding a career as an international student in the US or any foreign countries involves a lot of hard work and sometimes there’s nothing available in your field.
Spending a lot of time trying to get a job and seeing no results can be very frustrating and demoralizing.
Make sure you do not give up and get your dream job with a few vital steps. Smiling and being positive about your abilities will show confidence and will want to make employers invest in you.
At the same time, you’ll have to learn how to deal with a lot of rejections, identify the things that are with within your control and take action now.
Here’s a great motivation video for those of you who need some motivational boost!
Thank you for listening, my dear Malaysian friends as well as those from other countries ~
I wish all of you the best in your job hunting!
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