5 Lies & a truth
Searching for a Job in the U.S. as an International Student
I need to wait until graduation to find a job.
Your job search begins as soon as you step foot in Illinois. Join student groups, especially those associated with your department. Network with current students, alumni, and recruiters who visit campus. Peak hiring for full-time and internship/co-op positions takes place during the Fall semester.
While having a good GPA is important, balancing that with your active participation in extracurricular activities is just as important. Recruiters repeatedly share that they would rather hire a candidate who has a lower GPA and is actively involved outside of their academics than a student with a 4.0 GPA with no experience outside of class.
Getting a 4.0 GPA will guarantee me a job.
It's true that it is much more difficult for international students to secure employment in the U.S., but it can be done. Each year, 65,000 H-1B visas are issued, with an additional 20,000 for candidates with graduate degrees. Although obtaining a H1-B is not a guarantee, you can, as a student on an F1 visa, intern with a company without the company needing to sponsor you. This is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Upon graduation, you can use Optional Practical Training (OPT) to work for up to 29 months (conditions apply). Remember, though, that many companies are looking to hire talent for the long-term, not for the short-term.
I can’t get a job/internship/co-op in the U.S. because of my visa status.
Only big multinational firms hire international students
To maximize your chances of getting hired, you should also consider Small- to Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs). Many SMEs, including start-ups, offer opportunities that are just as rewarding as those in larger Multinational Corporations (MNCs). Many applicants assume that SMEs and start-ups do not have the capital to support international students. However, we have seen several SMEs and start-ups be more willing than MNCS to hire an international student for an internship under CPT or a full-time position through OPT.
Applying to online job postings is the most effective way to get hired.
It's the Least Effective method
Applications submitted solely online (meaning you didn’t talk to anyone prior to submitting your application) have the lowest probability of leading to an interview or hire. Referrals and networking produce the best chances of success. This means that you have to verbally talk to people -- not just e-mail, text, Facebook or hit “Like” on a person’s post. If you want to work in the U.S., you must break out of your comfort zone and use English with other students not from your home country. Be able to discuss topics not related to your major. To learn more about what’s going on in the U.S., join a social group on campus, volunteer in Champaign-Urbana, and/or read popular newspapers like USA Today.
Visit Engineering Career Services often and actively utilize I-Link.
Engineering Career Services (ECS) is here to help you through your career search. We will work with you on your resume, reviewing your resume to make sure that it is polished and professional. You can schedule mock behavioral interviews with us, so that you’ll be ready to speak with recruiters. We will also work with you to build a job search strategy. Once you get that job, you can come to us to discuss ways to evaluate and negotiate your job offer. In addition to career advice, ECS manages the I-Link database for Engineering students. I-Link is where you will find jobs, internships/co-ops, workshops, company information sessions, job shadow program, case competitions, scholarships, company site visits, and more. I-Link is also the website you go to to schedule an appointment with an ECS advisor. To set up an I-Link account, simply go to <engineering.illinois.edu/careers>.
3270 Digital Computer Lab (217) 333-1960 Mondays-Fridays 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Engineering Career Services