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Career Resources for International Students

Internships
Long Term Employment
U.S. Corporate Culture
Top Resources for St. Olaf International Students
Who Hires International Students
Additional Resources for International Students


Internships

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 U.S.– based internship opportunities off-campus MUST apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and academic internship credit. Students need to coordinate with both the Piper Center and with the Visa Coordinator in the International and Off-Campus Studies Office. Internships may be paid or unpaid.

The Visa Coordinator will require the following prior to authorizing Curricular Practical Training (CPT):

  1. The completed Academic Internship Learning Agreement and Plan with all signatures
  2. Registration of the internship credit in SIS by the Registrar
  3. 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 Visa Coordinator requires all of the information listed in order to authorize the CPT through SEVIS. CPT must be done on a term by term 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 Visa Coordinator, who resides in the International and Off-Campus Studies Office in Tomson Hall 389.

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.

Tips:

  • 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. Uniworld operates a search that can help you identify these firms.

Tips:

  • 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 Alumni Directory

St. Olaf College LinkedIn

St. Olaf College International Student and Alumni Group

  • 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.

Immigration/Work Authorization

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.

GoinGlobal

GoinGlobal is an essential resource for any young professional interested in working and living abroad. Through St. Olaf, students can access career and city guides, posted job and internships, employee directories, and information about obtaining work visas and living abroad.

To Make an Account:

  • Use this link to access GoinGlobal from any computer on campus.
  • Once you have made an account from a campus computer, you can access it from any computer on or off campus.

Click here for more information.

 

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 Tips

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 harder time securing 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.

Top Resources for St. Olaf International Students

St. Olaf international students CPT database contains information on previous international students’ CPT data, including Company/Organization, Industry, Location, Time, Majors, and Concentrations.

GoinGlobal holds country-specific internship and job search information, including regional information for the U.S. There are a lot of great resources for international students seeking employment in the U.S.

VISA 101 The basics of hiring St. Olaf international students (print and provide this to a potential employer).

Who Hires International Students

Department of Labor lists companies that have hired F-1 visa students

Top 1000 H1B Visa and Green Card Sponsors searches companies that sponsor the most H1B visas and green cards.

Search H1B Sponsoring Organizations searches by location and job title.

The U.S. Job Search for International Students University of Pennsylvania’s job search strategies for international student and employers who have hired international students from U Penn.

Additional Resources for International Students

E-verify searches for businesses that use this system to check immigration status.

Myvisajobs.com Myvisajobs launched cap a cap exempt H1B visa and employer database.

Uniworld searches for multinational companies.

NEW World Business Culture provides country-specific information on cultural elements of business.