Conducting a job search as an International student can be challenging, but not impossible. It is important to begin your research early to identify your career goals. Career Services can assist you with many of the steps you'll need to take in your search.
International Services is also an invaluable resource for you. They will provide important information regarding your visa status, curricular practical training, optional practical training, and employment options for on and off campus while you are here as a student and immediately following graduation. It is important that you thoroughly understand your visa requirements and limitations before beginning your job search.
Preparing for the Job
There is a great deal of preparation involved before you actually begin applying and interviewing for employment. Hopefully you have engaged in exploration of your interests, values, and skills to help you find a career path that is a good fit for you. The Career Services staff is available to help you with this exploration process. Some other considerations in preparing for the job search:
1. Master your communication skills. Participate in a mock interview with a Career Services staff member, and seek other opportunities to improve your fluency in speaking English. If you want to interview in the U.S. and do not speak English well, you will need to practice seriously and regularly.
2. Participate in extracurricular activities such as clubs, volunteer service, and other student groups. This involvement can help you develop leadership and interpersonal skills, and give you a chance to get to know people. Employers also value participation in these kinds of activities.
3. Gather as much information as you can related to your career interests. Attend Career Fairs, visit Career Services, and identify resources for information on employment opportunities in your home country, if you plan to return home to work. These resources can include professional organizations and journals, embassies, web sites, international organizations, family, and friends.
4. If you are trying to remain in the U.S., you will need to research what organizations may consider hiring non-U.S. citizens. Career Services can assist you with this research. Our office has a copy of the Directory of Foreign Investment-St. Louis from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, which can be helpful in learning what companies have overseas holdings. We can also share with you whatever information we have regarding specific companies that have hired international students in the past.
5. Seek out work experiences related to the career you want to pursue-internships, co-ops, or volunteer work. This type of experience also helps you build your skills, and gives you a chance to try out a career to see if it's something you like. These work-related experiences will also improve your chances for full-time employment.
6. Understand the differences between your cultural practices and those in the U.S., if you are planning on seeking employment here. Some of these differences as they relate to the job search include:
- Communication styles. In the U.S., you are expected to be direct and assertive, including a firm handshake, eye contact, and a confident posture.
- Self-disclosure. Many cultures consider personal questions about your likes and dislikes or strengths and weaknesses as an invasion of privacy. However, questions like these are very common in interviews in the U.S.
- Self-promotion. You will need to be confident in discussing your accomplishments and goals, and assertive in contacting employers and following up with them.
- Career self-awareness. In the U.S., you are expected to demonstrate knowledge of yourself and your career goals.