While seniors scramble to secure jobs before the recruiting season ends, one particular group of students faces more difficulties than everyone else.
With restrictive visa requirements and limited job opportunities, international students often have a tougher time securing work in the United States.
According to Patricia Rose, director of Career Services, many career paths are not even open to international students who want to remain in the United States.
“Some employers will not recruit international students because they do not have the resources to sponsor students for visas,” she said.
Currently, an international student must obtain a H1B visa to work in the United States Once an international has secured a job offer, his employer must apply to the government for the visa on the student’s behalf.
Without a work visa, international students only have 12 months throughout their college careers — called “Optional Practical Training” — to take paid work off campus before their student visas expire. Many students will have already used part of this time for internships.
A H1B visa is valid for a maximum of three years, and can be extended at the discretion of the employer for another three years. A student must apply for a new immigrant visa after the H1B visa expires if he or she wishes to remain in the United States.
An immigrant would then be eligible, after a period of time — depending on the type of immigrant visa he acquires — to apply for a green card, or the right to become a permanent U.S. resident.
Rose said larger businesses such as banks and consulting firms are more likely to hire international college graduates because they have the legal resources to sponsor students for visas.
She added that they are “committed to hiring the best students regardless of nationality.”
In spite of visa challenges, Rose did not feel that international students fare worse than domestic students when applying for jobs.
“Last year, international students were slightly more likely to be employed, presumably because they don’t have the luxury to take time off,” she said.
Course of study
According to Rose, an international student’s major is important for securing a job, more so than for domestic students.
“For the U.S. government to approve the visa, your major must be tied to your field,” she said. She added that these students may have to prove that they are more qualified than all the other job applicants in order to be granted visas.
College senior and political science major Cynthia Ip, who lives in Hong Kong and does not have U.S. citizenship, has found it difficult to secure a job in her field.
“I’m interested in think-tank and public policy jobs, and they are very reluctant to hire [international students],” she said.
While Ip originally considered working in the United States for a year before returning to Hong Kong, she is now deciding between returning home or attending graduate school.
College and Wharton senior Lorenzo Beacco, who is in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, recently found an investment banking job at Citigroup in New York. Beacco, who hails from Italy and is president of the International Student Advisory Board, believes that a Penn student’s home school can also affect his employment chances.
“I think that coming from Engineering, Wharton, or a science background, it can be a little easier to find a job,” he said. He added that he has found the “very organized career services” at Penn and the Wharton brand name very useful in his job search.
However, Rodolfo Altamirano, director of International Student and Scholar Services, felt that students should not always presume their course of study will determine their job.
“I have known students who got a job at the right time, in the right place, with the right connections as well,” he said. “There are a lot of factors.”
Impressions on employers
In addition, Altamirano felt that the particular employer and his impressions of international students can also make a difference.
Rose agreed that sometimes international students can carry advantages to certain employers. Often, she felt, employers can value the skills and cultural experience internationals bring to their companies.
“People from BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China] are increasingly attractive,” she said. She added that many financial firms have operations in London and Paris, so employers are often willing to transfer European Union citizens to other international branches.
In spite of the disadvantages that international students largely face, Rose said Career Services attempt to minimize discrimination from employers.
On jobs websites such as PennLink, employers cannot sort Penn students by nationality, although they may post citizenship requirements in their job descriptions.
While Ip said she was pleased with Career Services’ support when she applied for jobs, she felt that she could have been given more advice about how to deal with her international status during interviews.
“I didn’t know whether to be upfront about it,” she said.
Gandharv Bedi, a Wharton senior and finance major from Singapore, felt that employers responded well to his background.
“They all saw it in a positive light, they saw it as bringing a different experience.”
Bedi, who has secured an investment banking job with Credit Suisse in the United States, said it may be easier for international students to be hired for finance jobs in Singapore or Hong Kong.
He felt that in the near future he would like to remain in the United States. “After four years studying here, you do have a good community here, probably better than at home,” he said.Comments powered by Disqus
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