Do the words career week and recruitment sound familiar to you? Do you feel a sense of urgency yet? If you have a F1 or J1 visa, chances are your job opportunities are a little different from those of U.S. students. As career week approaches, I want to share some of the things I learned during career week. Hope you find this useful!
1. Be mindful of your internship opportunities
Most F1 holders are only allowed one internship opportunity throughout their four-year undergraduate studies due to OPT (Optional Practical Training) restrictions. Therefore, it’s usually best to save the internship for the summer of your junior year, so you can establish a fresh network that will hopefully lead to an invitation to work full-time after graduation. The timing of your internship is very important—don’t feel compelled to get an internship right after freshman year!
2. Don’t overlook development programs
Although companies don’t tend to favor freshmen for internships, they do open up spaces for pre-career development programs. These programs, whether they are rotational, leadership, or development programs, are great opportunities to establish connections to your future employer and explore your career interest. Application for these types of programs are usually release early fall or spring, or around the same time as internship applications, so don’t miss the deadlines!
3. Use your cultural perspective to your advantage
A lot of international students worry about the language and cultural barriers that puts them at a slight disadvantage during interviews. However, keep in mind that companies love multilingual graduates who have strong, global perspectives. When you are discussing your resume, remember to include your foreign language proficiency and possible internship experience abroad.
4. Clear communication with recruiters is important
You need to clearly state your work eligibility status on your resume. For example, you should state “Eligible to work in the U.S.; will require visa sponsorship for full-time employment” if you are a F1 or J1 visa holder. Recruiters need to know exactly what they should expect when they hire you. Any ambiguity or attempt to hide your visa status for the sake of employment will have a negative impact on your future career experience.
5. Be confident and proactive!
This is probably the most obvious advice for anyone who’s looking for a job. Attend as many career week events (networking hours, panel discussion, dinner events, etc.) as possible and show initiative by reaching out to recruiters. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a card, talk to them after information panel or sent a quick LinkedIn invitation. You never know where you will find your perfect job opportunity!