Top Resources for St. Olaf International Students
Funding Opportunities (Non-St. Olaf)
Long Term Employment
U.S. Corporate Culture
Handshake – FAQ International Students
Resources International Students
St. Olaf Internship Database — includes over 1400 internships submitted by graduating seniors from the past five years. Can filter to view only internships completed by international students.
St. Olaf First Destination Database — includes data on employment, graduate school/education and service program activities of graduates from the classes of 2014 to 2019 (within seven months of graduation). Can filter to view first destinations (employment and graduate school) of international students.
Cturtle – job and internship platform for international students (US and Global)
Immihelp.com H1B Employers Search – U.S. Government data regarding employers who have filed at least the initial step of the H1B work visa application process. Job titles, salaries and other applications details can help you identify employers and the roles that may be open to international students.
VISA 101 – The basics of hiring St. Olaf international students (print and provide this to a potential employer).
OPTResume.com – third-party job portal built to connect employers and international students.
E-verify – searches for businesses that use this system to check immigration status. This is particularly useful for students applying for STEM OPT.
World Business Culture – provides country-specific information on cultural elements of business.
UnitedOPT – third-party job search site that focuses on opportunities for international students with CPT/OPT work authorization or who are seeking employers who may sponsor for a work visa.
Search & Information Tools –
Primarily OUTSIDE the United States.
GoinGlobal is an essential resource for any young professional interested in working and living globally. St. Olaf, students can access career and city guides, posted job and internships, employee directories, and information about obtaining work visas and living abroad.
GoinGlobal must be accessed from on campus or through Handshake.
To access via Handshake:
- Log-in to Handshake
- Navigate to: Career Center –> Resources
- Select GoinGlobal
- Click the link to access GoinGlobal
Click here for more information on this resource
Study Abroad Funding Options
This section is in development and will be updated over time to reference non-St. Olaf funding opportunities relevant for international students.
Fellowships Open to Non-US Citizens
OPEC Fund for International Development Scholarship Award – funding for graduate school for student from eligible countries
Rotary Global Grant – funding ($35,000) for graduate school outside of the United States for students studying within Rotary’s Six Areas of Focus: Peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, economic and community development.
Study USA Scholarships for International Students – unverified list of scholarships on the Study USA website
International students are strongly encouraged to find internship experiences while enrolled at St. Olaf. To be eligible for an internship, international students need to have been enrolled at St. Olaf for one full year (first-year international students and exchange students are not eligible for internships). International students who find Study Abroad internship opportunities in the United States MUST apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and academic internship credit. Students need to coordinate with both the Piper Center and with the International Student Advisor in the Smith Center for Global Engagement. Internships may be paid or unpaid.
U.S. Internships Study Away: Very Important Information for International Students
The International Student Advisor will require the following prior to authorizing Curricular Practical Training (CPT):
- Completion of the online registration process for academic internships.
- Registration of the internship credit in SIS by the Registrar (following the completed registration process).
- Letter from the employer on letterhead with a site supervisor signature, which addresses:
— student’s name
— dates of employment
— paid or unpaid
— number of hours per week
— brief description of responsibilities
— where the work will happen, a specific address (not PO Box)
The International Student Advisor requires all of the information listed in order to authorize the CPT through SEVIS. CPT must be done on a semester by semester basis. The dates of employment must coincide with the semester registered for the internship credit. The work authorized under CPT must directly relate to the student’s field of study. Students can only work a total of up to 20 hours/week for all work (on and off campus) during the academic year (when classes are in session). This means if they are working an on-campus job at 12 hours/week and an internship job at 8 hours/week, they are fine. But if the total number of hours worked goes over 20 hours/week, they are ineligible and would be considered illegal.
Any questions about CPT should be directed to St. Olaf’s International Student Advisor, who sits in the Taylor Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (Buntrock.)
International students who find internship opportunities outside of the United States (interim or summer) would not need to follow CPT requirements (i.e. would not need to register for academic internship credit). Keep in mind you may need work authorization in the country in which you would be working. Internships during the interim and academic terms, are eligible for academic internship credit without incurring additional tuition fees, all the while gaining valuable work experience.
International students are encouraged to consider whether they would like to do an internship in the U.S., their home country, or another international location. The connections and experience obtained during an internship can be highly valuable in finding long-term employment following graduation. It may therefore be beneficial to consider an internship in the country you will most likely live following graduation.
- Check out St. Olaf international students CPT database to learn more about what previous international students have done with CPT.
- You may find more opportunity with small and mid-size firms that don’t use internships as a tool for testing out full-time hires for after graduation. While you should not exclude larger companies, don’t forget about the smaller entities.
- Consider the U.S. Employment landscape to determine industries or companies that operate in a space with high demand for workers. For example, currently there is a high demand (not enough qualified candidates) in the technology/IT sector.
- The more specialized skills you possess the more attractive you will be to potential employers. Consider any opportunity to enhance your technical, academic, or “niche” skills.
- If applicable, leverage your skills in your native language or other languages you may know – particularly those in high demand. You may wish to target industries, companies, and positions that require fluency in a particular language. In addition, research companies and identify if there is a strong presence in a country where you speak the language. Even if it is not a direct requirement of a particular position it can often help you stand out from other candidates.
- Spend time searching for opportunity in the larger metropolitan markets on the West and East coasts. Often corporations in the major coastal cities have a greater willingness to consider international students. The LACN and NIC search tools can be very valuable in searching these geographic areas. The LACN and NIC search tools locate in Handshake. Once you log in, choose “Jump to LACN” on the homepage. Once logged into LACN, you may also access the NIC database.
- Consider a Olaf Cohort Internship Program
- Apply for funding to help defray costs associate with your internship, or the cost of academic credit.
Long Term Employment
International students seeking long-term employment in the U.S. will generally face a greater challenge than domestic students, particularly in tougher economic climates. Generally, patience and perseverance are important values during your search. It’s also important to have a back-up plan in the event you are not able to find permanent employment in the time frame allowed by your student status. You may wish to consider a parallel job search in your home country to maintain options in case you are not successful in your US search. Some students find graduate school to gain further in-demand specialized skills to be another back-up option.
Don’t forget that your native language and culture can provide you a unique skillset in the U.S. job market that may be valuable to potential employers. Your cultural background is an asset – think about employers who may need or value your background. Identify U.S. firms with strong ties to your home country or firms based in your home country with operations in the U.S.
- Start your search as EARLY as possible.
- Persist, persist, persist! The reality is that it’s going to take a lot more time and effort to find and secure opportunities with your F-1 status than it will for U.S. Citizens. Bridge the gap with effort, enthusiasm, and an open mind.
- Take advantage of Piper Center Peer Advisors who are fellow international students.
- Leverage online networking resources:
St. Olaf College International Student and Alumni Group
OPTResume.com is a job portal built to connect employers and international students. (Note: this site is not vetted by the Piper Center.)
- Again, concentrate your efforts to search for opportunity in the larger metropolitan markets on the West and East coasts. Often corporations in the major coastal cities have a greater willingness to consider and sponsor international applicants for long-term employment status.
You will need to obtain necessary work authorization in order to work permanently in the U.S. International Students typically utilize Optional Practical Training (OPT) for their initial work authorization but would need to change status to a more permanent one that permits longer-term work in the U.S. H1B is the most common option. Please consult with the Visa Coordinator or an immigration attorney for advice with regard to immigration statuses permitting work.
Overview of U.S. Industries
The ability to find employment depends greatly on the sector of the economy in which you are planning to focus. Just as in the case with internships, the U.S. Employment landscape will likely determine whether finding a permanent position is realistic.
U.S. Corporate Culture
U.S. corporate culture can be very different than in your home country. Just exactly what those differences are and to what degree they matter depends on the countries being compared. Needless to say, it’s important to research and be aware of U.S. corporate culture so you are as prepared as possible to network, interview and ultimately work in a U.S. corporation.
The University of Minnesota has an excellent general comparison of U.S. Employer expectations during the job search as compared to other cultural norms.
Cultural Differences in Job Search
Other factors to consider:
- Vacation, Sick & Maternity Leave is not guaranteed in the U.S. and is generally up to the employer.
- Health insurance is generally provided by employers. There is no government-sponsored healthcare and individually purchased insurance can be quite expensive. Remember to plan for this during the job search.
Networking is an incredibly important part of the job and internship search process. Particularly for permanent positions, networking is the most common method for finding jobs in the U.S., and it is even more important for international students who generally have a much harder time securing permanent employment. Developing a personal connection with a potential employer increases the likelihood they will be willing to hire you and sponsor you for a more permanent work status. Networking can happen in almost any setting and with contacts you identify through friends, family, St. Olaf alumni, faculty, neighbors, a person you meet on a plane, or any number of ways.
If it is not your native language, the more comfortable you are with the nuances of the English language, the more confident you will be during the networking, job search, and interview process. While you may indeed be an advanced speaker of English by graduation, practicing in a professional networking or interview setting is important since language is often situational. Practice “small talk” regularly with a native speaker and also seek out opportunities to develop your professional English. Remember, use of slang, colloquialisms, and even humor can be tricky in your non-native language so be careful about using these linguistic methods in a networking or interview setting when the stakes are higher.
Be sure to research and access all Piper Center resources related to networking but perhaps most important is that you attend as many events as possible through the Piper Center. These can give you an excellent opportunity to practice your networking skills in a low-stakes environment.
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