- ON THIS PAGE:
- Introduction | Planning Process | 4 Year Outline | Services & Resources Career Services
- Building Your Resume | Student Organizations | Work While Studying | Search for a Job
- Networking | Marketing your International Experience | Home Country Employment
- Working in the US | Using Your Work Authorization Benefit | UW Career Services
- Other Resources | Unique Aspects of the Career Search for International Students
Establishing a career path, staying connected with UW-Madison and returning home are major issues for all graduating students. As an international student, the "normal issues" facing you are even more complex. The need for work authorization in a country other than your own, have little work experience and few local connections - here or in your home country - provide significant additional challenges.
On the positive side, international students have something special to offer employers: your international experience, your language and intercultural skills, your knowledge of both the US and at least one other culture.
How can you best reconcile the benefits and limitations of being a student in a country other than your own as you plan your career path? This document describes a number of services available at UW-Madison to help you along this path. We hope you find it informative and useful.
Go back up
II. THE CAREER PLANNING PROCESS - A FOUR YEAR APPROACH
We encourage you to get to know the UW-Madison career services, to visit them early in your university career, and to re-visit often. Get advice on writing your resume, request feedback on your resume and practice interviewing skills. Learn how to organize your job search and how to research a particular organization.
The Four Year Advising Outline
UW-Madison advisors urge students to consider the career planning process an integral part of their career at the university, not something to be ignored until the final semester.
Remember: Career planning is A PROCESS, NOT AN EVENT.
A Step by Step Guide to the Career Planning Process
- 1) Self Assessment
- 2) Career Exploration
- 3) Career Decision Making
- 4) Implementing the Job Search
Services and Resources Offered in Career Services
- Career development workshop topics include:
Identify skills and values
Develop a resume
Prepare for interviews
Identify potential employers
Organize a job search
Other career services include:
Resume and cover letter review
Employer presentations and videotapes
Career libraries and resources
Computerized career decision-making programs
Go back up
III. BUILDING YOUR RESUME
Imagine this scenario: you are graduating in June. It is now May 3. You do not have a resume, or any idea where you will be or what you will do after graduation. You have been so busy with classes during the past few years that you just did not have time to develop a resume. You are "stressed out" and just want to graduate. Does this sound like you? If so, you are like thousands of students who think a resume is something you rush to create "at the last minute" when you need it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A resume is not a document to put together quickly. It should be developed over a period of years. It is the primary tool available for you to market your most important product: YOU. So, if you have not thought about it until now: NOW is the time to start.
Start developing a rough draft during your very first semester on campus and update it each semester. All work experience in any campus or community organization you join may become part of your resume. Especially, be sure to record any leadership activities, awards, scholarships or other recognition. By the time you graduate, most of your resume will be written, requiring only a careful "polishing" process.
Go back up
IV. STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS
International students are sometimes reluctant to join the 600+ student organizations on campus, assuming this will interfere with their studies. Academic achievement is very important. Yet research shows that successful students are those who are active in the community outside the classroom. Many of the skills identified by employers as essential for the workplace may be developed through active involvement with student organizations. Check the Student Organization Office home page: http://soo.studentorg.wisc.edu/ for a listing of currently active organizations.
Some of the organizations are very career-focused, involve employers in their programs, and do community service projects. An example in the School of Business is the Financial Management Association and in the College of Engineering, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Students in all majors have opportunities to join special groups such as these.
Go back up
V. WORKING WHILE STUDYING
You may find work in the UW-Madison student unions (Memorial Union and Union South), libraries, recreational centers, and in academic and administrative departments. While many jobs are advertised on bulletin boards and a few in campus newspapers, the most reliable source for on-campus opportunities is the UW-Madison Student Job Center. This is a clearinghouse for information about part-time and summer employment for all UW students, their spouses and partners, as well as alumni and other community members. All current job listings can be accessed via the World Wide Web at http://jobcenter.wisc.edu/.
The UW Student Job Center is located at 432 N. Murray Street on the lower campus, and is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Or contact them via email: email@example.com
Other on campus position vacancy listings may be viewed in Bascom Hall or on-line at http://www.ohr.wisc.edu/.
On Campus Work Permission
Students on F-1 and J-1 visas are required to be full-time students. However, you may work ON-CAMPUS up to 20 hours per week while school is in session, full-time (40 hours per week) during vacations. There is no exception to the 20 hour-per-week ceiling, even if the employment is a teaching or project assistantship.
A full-time F-1 student does not need permission to work on-campus up to 20 hours per week. J-1 students need to request written permission from International Student Services (ISS) at 217 Red Gym.
On Campus Summer Jobs
During the summer, if you ARE NOT registered for academic courses, you may gain valuable work experience by working full-time on campus. If you ARE registered for classes, either part-time or full-time, you are still restricted to the half-time (20 hours/week) limit. This summer employment period is not deducted from your 12 month practical training opportunity. The Student Job Center and all campus career services offices are good resources for your summer job search.Go back up
Go back up
VI. THE SEARCH FOR A JOB
A challenge for you as an international student is that while your education is taking place in the context of a GLOBAL marketplace, your job search occurs within a world of NATIONAL boundaries. So the issue of work authorization, in the US and elsewhere, is a critical factor throughout your job search.
International students seeking employment outside your home country must understand that few positions are available for people without a permanent work visa. Most U.S. firms are not in a position to hire a person who has only a training period remaining on a student visa. However some U.S. companies will hire international students into one of their international offices.
Go back up
What is "networking?" Networking is a job search method which involves making contacts with people who can be helpful to you in your job search process. You make as many contacts as possible to let people know who you are and what you are hoping to find. With each new connection you make, by sharing and receiving information and asking for referrals, you build your network. Every networking conversation should end with the question: "Is there anyone else you know whom I could contact regarding my job search?" The name of your last networking contact may often lead to new opportunities.
Your goal is to eventually reach people who have the power to hire you. Along the way you will gain valuable information and advice. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 75% of available jobs are not advertised, but are communicated by word of mouth. Networking can be a very productive way to break into this "hidden job market."
Get started by using campus contacts: current and former professors, department chairs,
visiting international faculty and staff, careers services offices, classmates, and the Wisconsin Alumni Association.
How do you become effective at networking?
Do a personal assessment. To be successful communicating to others what you want to do, why you want to do it and what qualifies you to do it, you must be able to answer questions such as: What type of work do I want to do? What are my goals? What skills do I have that employers will find useful?
Identify your contact base. Know and use your existing contacts, including your academic contacts. Make use of professional associations, religious organizations and volunteer organizations. Don't forget your neighbors, dentist, realtor, barber or others who know large numbers of people. Let everyone know that you are on a job search!
Prepare yourself for the networking experience. Talk to different people, ask questions, share information.
Cultivate long-lasting relationships. Give as much as you hope to get. Be willing to share your expertise.
Conquer the fear of rejection. Some rejection is NORMAL in the job search process. If you are not employed, develop a "personal" business card. On the back of business cards you receive, note highlights of the conversation, the date and place of the meeting. IF appropriate, provide a copy of your resume. After a meeting, it is very important to send a follow-up letter of thanks and appreciation for the time spent, and mention something specific that you found to be very helpful and informative.
Don't get discouraged. Keep trying! Networking can eventually lead to the position you are seeking. Remember: you only need ONE "yes."
Go back up
VIII. MARKETING YOUR INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
The campus career planning services are engaged in building employment connections designed for international students. Many large international employers contact the campus to recruit students for their operations in specific countries and regions of the world. These are the opportunities for which international students may be MORE attractive to potential employers than US applicants, many of whom strongly desire to work abroad. The general advice given to all students interested in working internationally is that your first job is most likely to be in the country whose passport you hold, and you must build an international career from that basis.
As an international student, you do have a special quality increasingly of interest to global employers and that is your life experience in more than one society and culture. Many employment opportunities are available for students who have developed not only their educational qualifications, but their bi-cultural knowledge and skills, and proficiency in more than one language. In the global marketplace these are skills which many major employers highly value. Be sure to pay attention to these skills, develop them consciously during your educational program and market them during your job search. See Section XI. for further information.
Field Related Experience in the US: Using your Work Authorization Benefit
The international student visa programs DO allow students to gain career-related work experience in the USA before they return home. The Practical Training work authorization (F-1) and Academic Training authorization (J-1) provide work authorization that allows you to take a job in your field of study, part or full-time, off-campus in the USA.
Go back up
IX. HOME COUNTRY EMPLOYMENT
Many international students recognize the importance of exploring career opportunities with employers in their home countries. Opportunities for on-campus information sessions and interviews are presented by companies indigenous to the student's home country or by American corporations seeking to expand their businesses in that home country. Companies recognize the "skills advantage" in hiring international students for home country placement. Many students have successfully found home country internships and professional jobs upon graduation. While a small percentage of international students secure U.S. employment in SOME niche markets, many find that putting 100% effort into a 5% probability of U.S. employment is not the best use of their time and job search energy. Increasing numbers of home country employers are now recruiting on campus and many are participating in job fairs for international students, both on and off campus. Examples of American corporations that have interviewed UW-Madison students in recent years for home country placement include: Procter & Gamble, Citibank, Andersen Consulting, Caterpillar, Cargill, 3M, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Kohler Company, Deere & Company.
Go back up
X. WORKING IN THE US
Foreign citizens in the USA do not have a PERMANENT right to work in the USA. The same is true for U.S. citizens without work authorization wishing to work in foreign countries. However, international students MAY find that for SOME potential employers, the absence of long-term employment authorization is not a barrier to employment. Some employment options in the US are available to international student visa holders. The ISS and career services offices have developed a guide for prospective employers which you can include in your application materials to employers, carefully describing the visa options open to you for long-term employment.
In addition there are fields in very high demand, for which employment opportunities may be available, for example Information Technology. The market demands continually change, so we encourage you to keep well-informed by visiting the career services offices.
Use your time in the U.S. to develop workplace skills, job search skills and networks both in this country and at home. Work authorization, high academic performance, a strong resume and cover letter and well-developed interviewing skills, do not guarantee finding a job. We encourage you to recognize the special skills you are developing BY VIRTUE OF BEING an international student. There are many!
Go back up
XI. USING YOUR WORK AUTHORIZATION BENEFIT
The international student visa programs DO allow you to gain career-related work experience in the USA before you return home. The Practical Training work authorization (F-1) and Academic Training authorization (J-1) allow you to take a job in your field of study, part or full-time, off-campus in the USA.
Work OFF-CAMPUS is not permitted for international student visa-holders, except in rare cases of economic hardship, OR in the "training" options described below:
The total amount of time you may work if hired under the F-1 Practical Training Program is 12 months. (The J-1 period is 18 months and is referred to as Academic Training, but is very similar in its benefits.) This training may be taken before you graduate or after you graduate. Many students use this opportunity after graduation, when it has the highest potential of providing experience in your career area. International students are encouraged to investigate this possibility as part of their career planning. If you are planning to return home soon after graduation, however, you would be well advised to use your training option during summer vacations. In either case, this work experience can provide important training opportunities and contacts.
You can apply for the Practical Training work authorization in the semester before you complete your degree requirements or before your proposed employment begins, however, the application must be submitted to the USCIS before you complete your degree requirements. ISS offers a weekly F-1 Practical Training workshop throughout the year, to assist students in applying for employment authorization, which requires documentation from ISS as well as USCIS approval. J-1 students should come to ISS to talk to an international student advisor to discuss the J-1 Academic Training program.
An additional program, F-1 Curricular Practical Training, works particularly well for Engineering and Agricultural Cooperative Education students, since it requires that academic credit be granted for the work experience. Any work experience gained through curricular practical training, up to 12 months, is NOT deducted from the 12 month total allowed under the optional practical training program.
Attend a Practical Training workshop, offered weekly by International Student Services staff, or visit the ISS office at 217 Red Gym for further information on all of these options.
Go back up
Go back up
Other Important Resources
International Student Services
International Student Services exists to assist the University of Wisconsin-Madison in fulfilling its commitment to international education by providing orientation, documentation, information, and education to and about international students and scholars. ISS has a number of information documents with information essential to international students. Visit ISS at 217 Red Gym or call 262-2044.
Wisconsin Alumni Association
The Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA), located at 650 North Lake Street, sponsors several programs, via the Wisconsin Future Alumni Association (WFAA), that help connect UW-Madison students with alumni for career exploration, mentoring, and networking - both in the United States and overseas.
Wisconsin Future Alumni Association (WFAA) is a career-focused registered student organization on campus sponsored by WAA. WFAA connects student members with the global network of UW-Madison alumni for career exploration, mentoring, informational interviewing and networking.
Career Connections - Allows students to explore career options and establish a professional network with our alumni who can offer you valuable advice and guidance. Though the majority of our alumni volunteers currently live and work in the United States, this program is gradually being expanded to include our overseas alumni.
Alumni clubs or contacts in the following countries are available as part of your re-entry networking: Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong/China, London/England, Paris/France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan (ROC), Singapore, Switzerland, Bangkok/Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam. If you are interested in contacting any of the UW alumni club presidents or contacts in the listed countries, contact WAA.
For more information on the above programs and activities, contact the Alumni Association by phoning 265-2732.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
Three Unique Aspects of the Career Search for International Students
1. Develop your career skills while a student.
Use work on campus and student organization as part of your student experience. Develop your skills in resume writing and interviewing with the assistance of UW-Madison career planning services, as well as your workforce and job seeking skills through part-time work on-campus.
2. Develop career connections globally.
Use the resources of the UW-Madison career planning services, and the UW's alumni association (WAA), to develop networking skills and connections to use in the USA and in your home country.
3. Build on your US education by using the work extension on your visa.
Apply for the work authorization in the USA extension on your study program (F-1 Practical Training, J-1 Academic Training) to develop your knowledge and skills before returning to begin your long-term career in your home country. And market your inter-cultural experiences. GOOD LUCK!
Go back up