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Employer Education for International Students

March 21, 2017 2:35 am Published by Leave your thoughts


Should international students list their visa status on their resumes? Should a brief elevator pitch to recruiters contain phrases such as “I do not require sponsorship”? What about listing an “English” name in addition to a Chinese name on a resume…with or without quotation marks?

In an era of executive orders, undergraduate and graduate international students enrolled in US colleges and universities are facing increasing obstacles to successfully landing a co-op, internship or full-time position. At least one side of this rubik’s cube is employer education. What are best practices for staff and faculty in co-op and internship programs for reaching out to employers and helping to dispel myths surrounding international student employment?

In the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education at the University of Cincinnati (UC), we follow the advice of Ron Cushing, Director of UC International Services, that students should not mention their visa status until an offer of employment has been extended to them – or until an employer asks them about it, whichever happens first. This can encourage an employer to focus on the student as a uniquely packaged individual who might or might not be the best candidate for the position, instead of becoming distracted by anxieties around imagined prohibitive costs of sponsorship and buckets of accompanying paperwork. All of this is, of course, assuming that a student’s resume was not initially cast aside simply due to difficulties that a native English speaking recruiter might have in pronouncing the student’s name or surname.

It is guiding wisdom to proceed student-first and status-later, but as a new co-op faculty advisor with a background in teaching English as a Second Language to international students, immigrants and refugees, I have many questions:

  • How can we best empower students within this proactive silence around their visa status, and in which ways should we train them to be vocal advocates for themselves?
  • How are co-op and internship programs training international students to be their own immigration policy experts and preparing them to educate employers at opportune moments?
  • What are best practices for overcoming name discrimination on student resumes?
  • Which strategies for employer education around international student employment, on small to mass scales, have proven effective, and which are not worth attempting?
  • How are co-op and internship programs throughout the US weaving employer education into employer relations, showing employers the fine print of F1 student employment regulations while showing them love?

When an engineering student who is a US permanent resident / Green Card holder [read: not an F1 visa holder] attended UC’s Technical Career Fair in the fall and was repeatedly told, “I can’t sponsor you,” or “How much does it cost to sponsor you?”, I realized we had work to do in our division! And then, of course, I wondered – what work is already being done?

This is where you can come in, to assist with brainstorming and reflecting on the rubik’s cube that is the international student job search and deficits in employer education. You are cordially invited to a roundtable discussion entitled “Strategies for Helping International Students Overcome Barriers in the Co-op/Internship Job Search Process, Improving Employer Education and Promoting Intercultural Competence” to be held on Monday, April 3 at the upcoming CEIA conference. UC may have invented co-op in 1906, but effectively addressing this national challenge will require the expertise of co-op and internship professionals from across the country, weighing in with their experiences, hypotheses and visions. I hope to see you at the conference!

Author: Rebecca Hale is an Assistant Professor and Faculty Co-op Advisor for Mechanical Engineering in the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education at the University of Cincinnati, assisting with the Engineering + IT and International Experiences teams. If you have questions or insights, please reach out to Becca at or


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