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A reader e-mailed us a few weeks ago – she’s a senior at Columbia University, and she’s job searching. She’s had the usual frustrations with finding helpful information on companies’ career sites; however, her situations is exacerbated by the fact that she is an international student. Many students from abroad are treated like second class citizens (does that make sense, since they’re not US citizens?) in the job recruitment process solely because of their need for sponsorship to obtain a visa (did we get the terminology right?). Pursuing entry level jobs abroad is one alternative, but many of these students prefer to stay in the U.S. for at least a few more years.
The simple truth is that employers have a wide range of attitudes towards international students, and it’s hard to know what their attitude will be before you invest time in the applications process. Not only are employers unwilling to hire students from abroad because of the false perception that hiring an international students is costly, time consuming, and likely to end up with the new hire leaving after 6 months or a year, but they won’t even be upfront with applicants regarding their sponsorship policies. Employers also worry that if they hire foreign students, they will end up with employees who have poor English skills. This is nonsense. If someone can’t speak the language that you do business in, don’t hire him or her – that’s what a phone interview is for. You don’t need to discriminate against an entire group because some are unfit for the job. Now, don’t get us wrong, there are many companies that truly do a great job of recruiting and hiring international students (we’ve heard Wachovia, Ernst and Young, Xerox, Conservation International, MTV World, IT Convergence, Institute of International Finance Citibank, Deloitte, JP Morgan, T-Mobile, and Lehman Brothers mentioned), but they tend to be large corporations that have the resources and the know-how to navigate the process – they may have done it 1,000 times before.
So we want to help our readers, since there are a good number of international students among the ranks, better identify which employers are international student friendly, and which aren’t. We can say for certain, that in our daily research of the best entry-level employers, we have seen very little mention of immigration status on career websites. The problem (besides employer attitudes towards students who aren’t U.S. citizens) is that we have absolutely no experience job searching from the perspective of an international student. Lucky for you, we’re pretty skilled at finding great career resources on the Internet, so we’re going to give you some excerpts, some links, and open the comments section for further discussion.
Many colleges and universities have great job search resources for international students (and all students), so check out what your college has to offer. If you can’t find anything, use the online career services resources from another college. One example is this Career Services handout for international students at the University of Virginia. If you want to find more guides like this one, use this Google query, which should provide some great career resources for international students.
And of course, since it’s the Internet, there will be somebody trying to make a buck at your expense, so take heed of this warning from Northern Illinois University’s job search guide for international students:
There are many sites on the Internet that purport to assist international students with the job search and sponsorship process. Some make false claims, others sell forms and information that are available for free from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Service website and/or from NIU’s International Student and Faculty Office. Some sites give the appearance of being associated with the U.S. government with the inclusions of flags, government offices, or “official looking” logos. A website is only officially sanctioned by the U.S. government if it’s URL ends with the “.gov” suffix.
We’ll also add that any domain that ends with the “.edu” suffix can probably be trusted to provide honest and helpful information.
Like we said, this topic matter is kind of foreign (no pun intended) to us, so we’re relying on our readers to share their tips on weeding out employers who discriminate against international students. If you’re an international student with questions or tips, please join in on the conversation in the comments section. Feel free to add links to helpful websites, names of companies that are or aren’t international student friendly, and keywords that allow you to use Google to find applicable job opportunities. Let’s get some user-generated content going on One Day, One Job!
UPDATE: We just found this list of the 200 companies that received the most H-1B visa petition approvals in 2007. We hope it’s helpful!
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