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Credit: Luke Chen

Getting a job after graduation as an international student is much more complicated than doing so as an American. Fortunately, Penn’s doing whatever it can to make it easier.

International students make up anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of each undergraduate class each year and, according to Career Services, they are managing to secure jobs after graduation.

“International students are doing just as well as American students in terms of finding jobs,” Senior Associate Director of Career Services Rosette Pyne said. “They have some really good advantages, having strong cross-cultural experiences and high adaptability. Global awareness is also something appreciated by many employers.”

According to data from Career Services last year, 69.1% of international graduates who responded to career surveys reported that they were employed full-time; Penn as a whole had a 72.7% full-time employment rate. Of those international students who held full-time positions, 76.9% reported that they worked in America.

Currently, the biggest obstacle for international students on their career paths in America are immigration restrictions. The H1B visa required for working in America legally after graduation is chosen by lottery because of the huge number of visa applicants every year. To apply for a H1B visa, international students need to be sponsored by their employers. But this does not happen very easily.

Yuan Yuan is a 2014 College graduate from China who now works full-time at the accounting firm Ernest & Young in Philadelphia. She said that usually only big companies are willing to sponsor H1B visa applications because it costs thousands of dollars per international employee.

“I once was interviewing for a not-so-big firm, and I passed the first round. Yet when the HR person asked me if I was an international student and I said yes, the recruiter immediately said I wasn’t eligible for the position any more because the company doesn’t sponsor the H1B visa application” said Yuan.

To help international students deal with issues like this, Career Services works together with International Students and Scholar Services. While Career Services provides guidance on revising resumes and preparing for interviews, ISSS helps students with questions related to their immigration status.

ISSS also provide guidance on completing Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training, which are immigration benefits for international students to apply for internships and jobs after graduation. Yuan got her current job offer by using OPT, and she used CPT for a summer internship during her junior year.

Overall, Yuan said she is very satisfied with the professionalism of Career Services and ISSS at Penn, as she thought the problem she had mostly has to do with class offerings in the College. “I transferred from Boston College and I had been to the career workshops they had. Penn has a much more efficient staff. They are very helpful,” she said.

“My philosophy at work is to provide the best information on finding jobs for every international student,” Director of ISSS Rudie Altamirano said. Last month, he and his staff received 2,300 emails and arranged 2,900 walk-in appointments with students who had questions about CPT, OPT or the H1B visa with a staff of less than twenty people. In the coming month of May, Altamirano is expecting even more.

“We want our international students to enjoy the same benefits that other Penn students have,” said Pyne. “So we try our best to help them and have everyone on the same playing field.”

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