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International Students in the Job Search: Best Practices

December 14, 2016 3:07 pm Published by 1 Comment


In today’s market, it is crucial that ALL students, including international students, gain career-related experience before graduation. International students already face obstacles in landing full-time employment; they have to prove to the company that they are the BEST candidate for the job. This makes it even more important that they are provided the resources and support from their career office early in college to help them prepare for the job search, connect and communicate effectively with employers, and understand the hurdles they will face while looking for employment in the United States. In the Engineering Career Services (ECS) Office at Ohio State, we have implemented some best practices that have worked well in recent years.

Resources we provide:

  1. Setting expectations: All students are required to complete online Carmen modules during the registration process with ECS. We’ve recently added a module specifically for International students. This module is designed to inform students of hiring statistics (both national and Ohio State specific statistics). In addition, the module provides an overview of the resources and what students need to do in order to be successful in their job search. After listening to the 20 minute module, students must score 100% on the associated quiz. We have found that requiring them to complete this additional step before engaging with our office helps to set expectations of the reality of the US job search for International students.
  2. We have an “International students” page on the ECS site. This content keeps students up-to-date on the latest trends and issues. Students can access the “international students” tab on our site to find helpful tips on the job search, interviewing, resumes and hiring laws.
  3. Also on our website, we have a career blog. One of the topics is International Students, and within that category are “Success Stories.” These are blogs featuring international students at Ohio State. The staff at ECS reach out to successful international students who are interested in sharing their story. The student discusses their work experience and helpful tips for other international students.

Programming held for international students throughout the year:

  1. We hold a Job Search Success Stories Panel 1-2 times per year. This features 6-7 international students who have secured internships or full time positions in the US. It is helpful for students to hear from others who have been in their shoes and have put in the work it takes to be successful in the internship or job search.
  2. Hiring International Students: Employer Panel. This features 4-5 employers who have hired international students for internships or full time positions in the US. They will share their hiring practices and tips for students applying to their jobs.
  3. The Art of Small Talk Workshop. “Networking” is often a scary term for international students and not something that comes naturally for them. This workshop features international students (via video clips) who discuss their views/insight into American small talk.

Relationship with OIA and employers:

  1. We collaborate closely with The Office of International Affairs: This office will host walk-ins and work authorization related presentations for F1 and J1 students. These events will be hosted in our building and promoted through our office.
  2. We host OIA advisors at an ECS staff meeting once a year so our office is aware of latest trends and issues pertaining to international students.
  3. We work directly with an OIA contact for any difficult legal questions pertaining to work authorization and to ensure online publications are accurate and up-to-date.
  4. We provide employers with a handout (when registering with our office) that covers why their company should be open to hiring international students. The handout also delivers an overview of hiring practices and a contact for an immigration lawyer who can answer any legal questions.

 If you have questions about any of the best practices provided above, please feel free to contact me at

Author: Katy Arenschield is Program Manager for Engineering Career Services at The Ohio State University


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1 Comment

  • Smith, Keith says:

    Thanks Katy for sharing your best practices. Do most of your employers advertise that they hire international students? We find that some employers do not want this information advertised and it causes some confusion on behalf of the students. Thanks!

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