Get into university in the US with Interstride's course on US Admissions and Applications
Interside mobile menu

5 essential tips to better support international students

interstride logo by Interstride
July 19, 2022

Most international students hope to work in the US after graduation. However, unlike domestic students, international students face immigration hurdles and employer biases that require them to be a lot more strategic in their job hunt.

As a career advisor, you are in a unique position to help international students.

With a little planning and research, you can guide students to fulfilling careers in the US or other developed countries with comparable economies and opportunities. Here are some tips to get you started.

1) Start career counseling upon arrival

Imagine the competition for jobs as a marathon. The problem for international students is that they are starting the race an extra two miles behind domestic students.

That’s because a lot of employers are hesitant to hire international students. To overcome this bias, international students must outhustle domestic students to make themselves as marketable as possible. They need to identify career goals and then work on developing the industry knowledge, functional experience, professional experience, and cultural competencies to appeal to employers.

Developing that knowledge and experience takes time. It requires students to pursue the right degree programs, engage in meaningful projects, land relevant internships, and develop a professional network.

Many international students, however, don’t realize the future obstacles they will face and aren’t thinking about their careers in their freshman year or even their first year of graduate school.

It’s your job to prepare them as soon as possible. Neither of you can afford to wait. So, why not develop a workshop or program for international students as soon as they arrive on campus to help close that opportunity gap quickly?

2) Check in periodically

Remember what we said about starting the marathon early?

Well, starting early doesn’t matter if a student gets off course. Keep open communication lines with your international students and check in on them periodically. Make sure they are hitting their milestones and doing the things they need to be doing to reach their full potential, graduate on time, and achieve their career goals.

3) Use Data and Insights to Guide Students

International students cannot afford to take a shotgun approach to their job search. Many of them waste valuable time and resources applying for jobs at employers who will not sponsor work visas.

Unfortunately, most traditional jobs boards do not indicate whether or not they hire international students. Still, there are ways that students can be more strategic. They can do that by using data and insights to steer their search toward the best job leads. 

So, how is an international student supposed to know where to begin?

Fortunately, there are resources out there that allow you to better identify target companies. This is where Interstride can really help.

Our Visa Insights page allows you to job hunt for companies willing to sponsor international students. You can tailor your search based on visa type, the industry you want to work in, the state you want to work in, your work experience, and more. 

Get rid of the shotgun and adopt a laser focus instead. 

4) Prepare them for failure

80 percent of international students would stay in the US to start their careers after graduating. Unfortunately, the truth is that the same 80 percent end up returning home mainly because of immigration hurdles and inability to find work.

Returning home can be a big disappointment for international students. Many of them come from developing countries where wages are relatively low. These highly skilled graduates often end up working jobs where they are underpaid and struggle to pay back their student loans.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

As a career counselor, you should prepare your international students for the possibility that they might not find work in the US Encourage them to develop a Plan B that still keeps them on track to meet their long-term goals.

 A Plan B could include:

  • Considering H-1B alternatives in the US like working for H-1B cap-exempt employers
  • Taking a job in an international office of a US company. After working abroad for a year, you may be able to return to the US on an L visa
  • Pursuing more education in the US

5) Build your own network across campus to better serve students

Supporting international students is not a one-man job. The more connected you are to resources across campus, the more prepared you are to serve your international students.

This is especially important with international students. Some domestic students may be able to navigate the web of campus resources on their own. But for international students, cultural and language differences can make an already difficult task even more burdensome. You may need to act as their guide, directing them to the people on campus who can meet their needs.

To do that, though, you have to know those people.

  • Build relationships with as many support services as possible – This includes the international student office, tutoring programs, advising, your multicultural center, your alumni association, student services, and more.
  • Leverage the alumni network – Creating and maintaining a solid network is one of the most important things an international student can do. As many as 85 percent of all available jobs are filled through networks. Alumni groups are a great place for international students to start building their network and engage in mentorship programs that connect students and young alumni with older, more connected international alumni.
  • Expand your social, professional and information network beyond campus – Get to know the organizations that work directly with international students and with administrators who work on their behalf. Follow them on social media, sign up for their newsletters, and stay in contact with them to keep up to date on the ever changing landscape in education and immigration. 

Interstride is here to help

Just as there is help out there for international students, help also exists for those who counsel them on their career options. At Interstride, we know all about the obstacles international students face as they transition to their careers, and we know how to overcome them, too.

Learn more about Interstride

Login to Interstride