How to Get a Job in America as an International Student

Spring semester is in full swing, which often means soon-to-be-graduates are getting ready to join the workforce.

But how do you go about searching for jobs in the US as an international student? 🤔

We interviewed two international students, Elaine and Wendy, to help you navigate this challenging process. They both studied at OSU’s business college and are now working in the States.

Here’s what they had to say on tackling the job market as internationals 👇

1. Be proactive 

Start researching for jobs ahead of time. Look before applying for your OPT, as it takes time to secure a job and secure your OPT work card. 

2. Take advantage of STEM fields 

STEM majors are usually best to pursue because you have the option of having three years of OPT rather than one. In addition, STEM fields are often sought after and may offer more job opportunities. To keep in mind: applying to your OPT as a STEM major means that only the first year is secured. If you want to use all three years, you must file an extension for the other two years. Check with your employer if they can cover the OPT extension fee. 

3. Apply for internships during your college years

Internships help secure full-time employment, as they give you experience and an improved look on your resume. 

4. Refine your communication

Communication is key to securing jobs, as employers will notice how you articulate yourself during interviews. If you’re not confident in your language skills, practice by listening to videos and podcasts. Many out there include business English and speech used in professional settings. 

5. Search for jobs and internships on Handshake and LinkedIn

Handshake is nice for international students because it’s clearer with visa regulations and it’s related to your school. (Elaine said she found a higher chance of securing interviews through Handshake!)

6. Take advantage of your university’s resources

Stay informed about the career fairs your university is hosting, as those are great moments to network with employers. Also, make use of your university’s career center; they’ll be able to help you craft a well-written resume, prepare you for interviews, and maybe even take professional headshots for your Handshake or LinkedIn profiles. 

7. Have a well-written resume

As said, check with your university’s career center for help in writing your resume. In addition, get people who are in your same field to review your resume, as they’ll know the type of language you need to cater to your desired audience. In general, keep it concise and professional, fitting it on only one page. 

8. Practice interviewing

In addition to helping you with your resume, your university’s career center will most likely help you with mock interviews. This will get you comfortable with the interview process and improve your confidence. Once you secure real interviews, make sure to write thank you notes to your interviewer; use email or go the extra mile by writing handwritten cards! Also, ask for feedback if they choose not to move forward with you; this way, you’ll know how to improve for the next time you have an interview. (Elaine actually changed someone’s mind by asking for feedback! They were so surprised at her asking that they decided to give her a chance!) 

9. Check which companies are likely to hire international students

You can check this link and similar ones to find out: OPT Nation 

10. Don’t overlook small companies or start-ups 

Oftentimes, international students only look for jobs at big companies because they hear others getting jobs from them, plus think they have the means to sponsor visas. However, this isn’t always true. Big companies usually have strict policies for sponsorship, so don’t ignore smaller companies. Sometimes, building relationships with them leads to offers, as they can be more flexible with your needs.

11. Get referrals or “middle-people”

Referrals are shown to be highly valued when applying for jobs. Use your network as best you can and you might land a job through your connections. In addition, try finding middle-people, such as job recruiters, who can help you connect with employers. (Wendy said she found job-hunting companies who helped her find jobs on her behalf!)

12. Follow OPT/CPT instructions carefully 

When applying to your OPT, get help from your university’s international student office. They’ll usually have workshops and office hours to make sure you get the process correct. Better be safe than sorry! (Wendy said to make sure your company is E-verified if you’re in a STEM field. If not, you can go through the process here: E-verification)

13. View your OPT as an extra cushion 

Your OPT can act as an extra cushion, as it provides you more time to search for jobs. Continue searching for companies that can sponsor you. Look at this as an opportunity to review your resume and gain more interview confidence. 

14. Be mindful of visa sponsorship 

Be aware of visa sponsorship before applying to companies. Verify if they can sponsor you after your OPT years are done. However, be open to opportunities to gain experience, even if they don’t offer visa sponsorship. Experience will help you with securing another job in the future. 

15. Hold visa sponsorship loosely

Don’t hold on so tightly to securing an H1B visa. Rather, take the offers presented to you and keep gaining as much experience as possible. Remember that nothing is in vain. Don’t be discouraged if visa sponsorship isn’t granted to you right after graduation; it’s completely normal and many international students go through this! The experience and connections you receive from your job may open doors in the future. 

16. Remain active

If your company cannot sponsor you after your OPT, don’t stop looking for jobs during the period you’re working. You can also learn new skills to add to your resume. 

17. Keep your DSO informed

If you change jobs, inform your DSO immediately so they can update your information in the SEVIS system. It’s important to maintain your SEVIS record aligned– you don’t want to run into any trouble in the future!

18. Pray

As the Bible says in Romans, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Wendy said to not limit how God works, as His ways are different than ours! “Only God can make it happen”, Elaine said.)


We hope these tips help you secure a job in the US. We know it’s hard, but keep at it and focus on what you can do. We’ll leave you with a Bible verse; it might encourage you on your job hunt journey:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

Peace be with you, friends! 🌷

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