Job Search for International Students
To be competitive in the U.S. job market, you need a diverse set of skills that employers highly value. Sometimes, the skills that U.S. employers desire may be different from those valued in your home countries. It is more important to develop broad career readiness skills in addition to having a strong academic record and technical knowledge relevant to your career interest.
Excellent communication skills are required to be competitive in the U.S. job market. You must be able to verbalize, write, listen, give presentations, facilitate discussions, and share knowledge effectively in English. Employers also highly value candidates with strong interpersonal skills and ablity to work on a team. Interpersonal skills include abilities to relate to colleagues and customers, inspire others, understand culture, and resolve conflicts. Employers seek graduates who have demonstrated leadership by being active contributors on campus and in their surrounding communities.
You can enhance your job search with networking. Many employment opportunities can be found within your network or through referrals, therefore, it is important that you begin networking as soon as possible. As an international student who may have fewer contacts in the U.S., it is important to build and maintain networks who can support your job search. Connecting with recruiters and campus visitors is helpful in developing new contacts, but it may be not enough. Search LinkedIn groups or other social media to find alumni groups for your college, department, or nationality. On LinkedIn, send a request to join the group, identifying yourself with credentials such as being a current student at UIUC. You can also connect directly with individuals on LinkedIn.
Conducting informational interviews is strongly encouraged once you identify a contact. If you are not sure about how to use LinkedIn and how to conduct informational interviews, attend networking-related workshops at The Career Center or consider signing up for the CC-I program.
LinkedIn Group for International Students and Alumni
Join the INTLconnect LinkedIn group for International Students and Alumni to build your network, stay connected to peers and learn from former international students, and find out about mentoring, internship, and other opportunities from international alumni.
Tip: Make sure you've built a polished, updated LinkedIn profile first! If you need help, come to drop-ins or make an appointment at The Career Center.
It is important to understand the job search process in the U.S. as you seek CPT, OPT, and other employment opportunities. The search process may be very different than common practice in your home country. It may be common in your country for the government, family, or academic advisors to find jobs for you, but in the U.S., it is largely your responsibility to identify and pursue your own employment.
Use resources on-campus, such as Handshake @ Illinois, and career fair and workshops as you seek positions. Using LinkedIn or reviewing lists of companies who have hired international students for CPT or OPT can also be helpful.