Working/Studying in the United States
While at Macalester, the International Student Programs Office assists students in navigating internship and employment regulations associated with their student status in the United States. Students should first familiarize themselves with these regulations associated with their type of visa and visa status. Visit the ISP’s website for full information on government regulations and work options.
Challenges in the U.S. Job Search
International students face additional challenges in job search. Cultural differences and confusion surrounding immigration laws are some of the barriers international students face. The CDC recommends that all students utilize the CDC’s 4-year plan to maximize their career exploration and development while at Macalester. This planning is especially important for international students, as they facing additional hurdles to working in the U.S. while in school and thereafter.
The CDC’s suggestions for International Students1:
Start early. Students should explore fields, interests and careers throughout their 4 years at Macalester.
Gain experiential learning through working, volunteering, internships and student involvement. Students who participate in diverse experiential learning clarify interests, develop potential plans, and demonstrate skills in their post-graduation job search.
Communication skills are very important. If you are a non-native English speaker, use every possible opportunity to strengthen your command of spoken and written English.
Remember, you have unique strengths! When looking for potential employment, remember that you have unique assets in addition to your academic training. Promote skills including your multi-lingual abilities, adaptability, problem solving, unique background, and professional experience. Focus on employers that are looking for these skills.
Familiarize yourself with immigration processes related to your student visa. Many employers are unaware or uninformed of the details of student visas resulting in greater confusion and less opportunities. Students should practice and develop skills in describing pertinent visa aspects with employers. Visit with International Student Programs staff for additional assistance.
Ask for advice and help. Networking is a systematic, intentional effort to weave a community of support that can assist in your job search. Contacts may include friends, family, faculty and staff and alumni. Each person whom you contact becomes a participant in your search. Fellow international students who have gained some experience with the U.S. job market may be able to help you in your search. Make sure to use our guides to conduct thoughtful and professional networking and informational interviewing.
Focus on organizations with an interest in your home country/region. You may wish to concentrate on employers that have connections (offices, subsidiaries, marketing teams, sales force) to your country of origin.
You are here on a student visa, not a work visa. You may find that some employers are reluctant to hire international students due to visa restrictions. While a degree-seeking student you may be eligible for internships, research positions, or other employment opportunities under certain conditions related to your studies. In most cases after graduation, you may be eligible for 12-months of practical training (and additional 17-month for those in certain majors in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, STEM).
Use your embassy. Some embassies maintain lists of contacts for employment.
1 Adapted with permission from Brandeis University. Spring 2015.
The CDC offers many different resources to help you in the process of job search. Check the guides about writing a resume and cover letters and as well about interviewing. Set an appointment with one of our counselors to discuss your interests, to plan your career, review resumes, to help you network and prepare to interviews. We offer great resources to help you to succeed.