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Recruiting Tips for International Students

By Son Nguyen '14  |  november, 2013, Issue 1
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Son Nguyen


"Why are you here and not somewhere else?"

Again and again you will ask yourself that question (if not, look up instead of checking email on your stroll to class). Important milestones, such as the day you arrived on campus, highlight the importance of knowing your circumstances, strengths and weaknesses as you consider your next steps in life. The process manifests itself in unique ways to each of us. Here, I want to focus on the hundreds of international students wishing to work in the United States.

You left not only your cushy jobs but also the safety net provided by a rich network of personal and professional contacts developed over years. For many of you, it is the first time you've lived in the States (some have yet to experience NY, SF, or Vegas – bless your souls). And now you're here, and you've found that your dream employer only accepts applications from U.S. citizens or permanent residents – it can be heartbreaking. But don't let this deter you! I can help (really):

Just ask...

While there exist a few companies that insist on hiring only U.S. citizens (I have no idea why, either), many employers are simply unsure about the process of sponsoring work visas. Call the recruiters, tell them how excited you are about the opportunity and be upfront about the fact that your work authorization does not align with the job posting. Often they will ask you to email your résumé to them. The rest is straightforward: most employers will make an exception and extend an interview invite to a student who is a very appealing candidate.

Learn to embrace networking, American style.

It isn't easy, I know. Where you are from, you would likely get weird looks had you tried to make small talk with strangers. Think of it the same way you overcame the apprehension of relocating thousands of miles to Chicago: just do it. Plus, at this stage, you can never know enough about any employer; every conversation can provide hints about company culture, key issues the company faces and the people who work there, all of which can be turned into great questions to ask in future correspondence. Effective networking takes effort, and you probably won't master the art of shoulder-rubbing overnight; but, as Woody Allen once said, "80 percent of success is just showing up."

Help is everywhere you look.

Finding a job here is not your unique problem. Do you know that simply Googling "H1B database" will yield searchable archives of public records for companies that have sponsored visas? Or that Booth works with other top business schools to compile a database of firms that hired international students in past years? What about the many, many alumni and current Boothies who are happy to pick up the phone and share valuable tips from their own successful searches?

Keep at it, and you will do okay. Don't believe me? You are a Boothie; look at the data.

Last Updated 11/4/13
Last Updated 11/4/13