- The Center for Career Development and Academic Exploration is here to support international students as they gain experiences and grow as professionals. Below is some information and resources to help you get started.
- As staff and aspiring allies at the Center for Career Development and Academic Exploration, we strive to:
- Create a safe and welcoming environment for international students
- Challenge barriers, stereotypes, and assumptions within our day-to-day interactions with University of Tennessee, Knoxville students, faculty, and staff
- Encourage international students to discover and explore their individual strengths and skills, and to help you make a more informed choice about internship opportunities and employer selection
- Increase awareness of resources and services available to support international students in making informed career decisions.
Support on Campus
- Campus Labs – Student Organization Finder
- Finding student organizations related to culture and diversity
- Center for Global Engagement – International House
Understanding Your Visa
- The Center for Global Engagement is your resource to understanding your visa status and the federal government’s rules associated with working in the US.
- H1-B Visas/Non-Immigrant Temporary Work Visa
- Some F-1 and J-1 visa holders may be eligible to change their status in the U.S. and acquire H-1B status. In order to qualify for H-1B visa status, you must first have a job offer with an employer who is willing to file an H-1B petition on your behalf with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). H-1B visa status is reserved for individuals in “specialty occupations” which are jobs requiring at least a Bachelor’s degree. An attorney is usually hired by the employer, in order to file the H-1B holders to known as the “H-1B cap”. There are separate 20,000 H-1B visas available for foreign nationals who earn at least a Master’s degree from a U.S. institution as well.
- Some employers are exempt from the H-1B cap, such as institutions of higher education and non-profit research organizations associated with those institutions. In recent years, the H-1B cap has been reached with more than double the allotted number of petitions filed; because over half of those who apply for H-1B visa do not receive it, many U.S. employers are hesitant to hire international applications. For current information about the number of petitions received and deadlines, visit uscis.gov.
Resume & Interview Tips for International Students
- Check out our Vol Guide to Resume Writing for advice on resume format and content, and you can also find sample resumes there. As an international student remember to:
- Exclude your international addresses or any other personal information (e.g. birth date, photo)
- Include your language skills and fluencies, but do not include English if you are using the document for applying to positions in the US.
- If you are an F-1 student, explain that you have the legal right to work in the United States for 12 months while remaining under your student status (this is the Optional Practical Training). Then tell them that you can renew your authorization to work for a further three to six years with a H-1B work visa. Avoid the word “sponsor” in the conversation, and use the term “petition”. Remember that you probably know more about immigration laws than your potential employer.
Talking to Employers
- When to reveal status as an international student:
- Networking, Career Fair, Employer Tabling
- No need to draw attention to your status when talking to potential employers; focus on your qualification related to the position and build relationships. If the employer asks, tell them you are legally eligible to work in the U.S. and briefly explain the CPT/OPT process.
- Job Application
- Do not include visa status on your resume, you may be asked to answer yes/no to current work authorization status and the need for sponsorship in the future, make sure to answer truthfully.
- If asked, briefly explain the CPT/OPT and H-1B application (if applies). Ask the employer what their policies are regarding hiring foreign nationals and if they have petitioned for H-1B employees in the past.
- Don’t wait until getting an offer to reveal your status. Be honest and be open. Make sure you have the CPT approval or the EAD card (for OPT applicant) before you start working.
- Networking, Career Fair, Employer Tabling
Network Your Way to a Job
- In the U.S. it is common to find employment as a result of having the right connections. The ability to make connections with people, or networking, is a skill you can begin developing when you enter college.
- Begin talking with faculty members and fellow students. Many faculty members have experience outside of the university context and maintain professional contacts with their former colleagues.
- Start attending networking functions where alumni will be in attendance, it will prove to be helpful for you to connect with people who have already successfully found employment here in the U.S. and can provide you with insight about the process.
- The best way to find companies that are willing to hire international students is to talk to other international students and alumni. Know you can reach out to U.S. employers to ask about international student hiring practices.
- Joining a professional association related to your field of interest is also a wonderful way to make connections with those who can provide you with sound advice about how to find jobs in a particular field.
- For names of professional associations, speak with a faculty member in your department or use the Center For Career Development & Academic Explorations resource “What Can I Do With This Major?”
- Resources to Identify Employers Who are International Friendly (H-1B/OPT)
- See the latest report of Top 100 H-1B Visa Sponsors
- Found in Handshake’s Resource section
- Finding participating employers
- United OPT – The Nation of Jobs
- Resources to Identify International Employers
- Search for International Companies
- Found in Handshake’s resources
- Resources to Identify Jobs and Internships Abroad
- Found in Handshake’s Resource Section
- Online Platform to find International Experiences
For visa and CPT help, visit International Student and Scholar Services, located at 1620 Melrose Avenue. Website: international.utk.edu; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 865-974-3177
Featured Resource: Interstride
nterstride is a great online resource for career-related information and tolls for international students. You can find job listings, real-time hiring trends, employer information, career assessments, and cultural tools and tips, among other resources. Login with your UT email address to get started.