Working in the United States
As you begin to build your strategic plan to gain experience, as an international student you must keep in mind that in order to gain permission to work in the United States, prospective internships, summer jobs or post-graduation employment must be closely aligned to your major field of study. Consider your goals and passions within the context of your academic area.
Visas, Work Authorization and Other Work Documents
Be sure to include the International Students and Scholars Office in your job search process. The office provides expert information about all regulations surrounding your ability to study and work in the United States and has a wealth of information about the legal aspects of your OPT and CPT options.
DO NOT accept a job or begin working without having had a meeting about options with an ISSO staff member. You should consult with the office regularly as you collaborate with Hiatt to be confident that you are taking advantage of opportunities to gain work experience that are open to you as well as to ascertain that your plans are in line with government regulations.
"Marketing" Yourself is an Important Part of a U.S. Job Search
- Describe and promote your skills and experiences effectively in writing and in interviews.
- Initiate conversations and contacts with mentors, faculty, personal contacts and the alumni network and make "cold calls" to people in your field.
- Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of specific industries and organizations.
- Learn about U.S. workplaces and on-the-job etiquette as it relates to your search.
Create Expert Career Documents
- Optimal Resume helps create clear and targeted U.S.-style career documents. See also the Hiatt resume, cover letter, and portfolio pages.
- Share drafts of your documents with Hiatt staff, faculty members, mentors and trusted friends to get advice about your documents.
Capitalize on the Skills You Possess as an International Student at Brandeis
- Subject knowledge and specializations—your majors and minors
- Independence, flexibility, confidence
- Global vision
- Problem solving
Showcase your Interviewing Savvy
- Check Hiatt’s “Frequently Asked Interview Questions” to prepare for your interview.
- Make an appointment at Hiatt for a mock interview so that you can ask questions, practice your technique and get immediate feedback.
Research Companies and Expand your Network
- Seek out companies that have hired Brandeis international students in the past.
- Network with fellow students at Brandeis and friends at other U.S. schools to find out the companies for which they have worked.
- Contact faculty members at Brandeis, at other schools and at home to make contact with others engaged in your field.
- Get in touch with Brandeis alumni.
- Join a professional association.
- You don’t have to “work” to learn about the marketplace; gain experience and critical career knowledge through shadowing, panels, informational interviewing and conferences.
Look for Companies with an International Focus
Companies that work internationally, have branches or are based in your home country or region, and/or value intercultural, language and field experience are a great bet for a targeted job search.
- Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries (Goldfarb Library)
- Directory of Foreign Firms with Representation in the United States (Goldfarb Library)
- The World of Learning (Goldfarb Library)
- NIRA World Directory of Think Tanks
U.S. Professional Etiquette and Protocols
The Professional Etiquette section of the Hiatt Web site discusses etiquette and protocols in U.S. professional settings.
- Become familiar with the questions that U.S. employers cannot ask in an interview that may be different from your experience at home.
- Employers may not know that they can hire international students or even how the process works. ISSO can give you the information and language you need to help employers understand how it is done.
- Employers may not have hired someone from your home country before or they may not know exactly how to evaluate your international experience or non-U.S. credentials. You may have to provide translated documents, but only if requested by the employer.
- Your resume, cover letter and interview are key to relaying concise, clear and relevant information about your unique fit for the job.
- As an international student, you may not be able to work in some departments of the U.S. government or U.S.-based research organizations, and there may be some positions at organizations that are reserved for U.S. citizens only. Descriptions of job openings at these agencies or for these positions will usually note any restrictions.
- Some international organizations such as the United Nations or the World Bank are particularly attractive to international students. Check organizational Web sites for openings and use your network to find about openings. However, these large international institutions generally seek to hire mid-career professionals. Consider gaining valuable experience in related organizations first, and then target your dream job from a firm foundation of international work experience in the U.S. or abroad.