At some point in your US educational experience you start to wonder how to get hired as an international student. Maybe you want US experience on your resume. Or maybe you want to learn new skills on the job. An internship or an OPT job is the start of your global career. So you start thinking: how do I get hired as an international student?
There is a lot of focus on finding companies that hire international students. But just as important as finding companies that sponsor is making sure you are a strong candidate. To get hired as an international student you must become an exceptional candidate. Just like when you applied to your university, you had to be exceptional. You had to submit the right documents. You were required to write a persuasive essay about your goals. You showed the college you’re attending that you are an exceptional student.
The same process is true for your internship or OPT job search. Companies that sponsor international students only hire exceptional candidates. Exceptional candidates show employers how they will make a difference in their organization. There is a difference between a candidate who tells and one who shows.
Here’s an example. Imagine you are a manager who is hiring a software engineer for a fintech company.
The first candidate tells you they have a 4.0 GPA. He says that he is very good at Python and works well on a team. This candidate has a few errors in their email to you. When asked why he wants to work at your company he tells you that he wants to work in tech.
The second candidate shows you an app they built for a friend. She describes the process she used to work with a team of two other engineers. You notice the student’s emails are error-free. When asked why she wants to work at your company she tell you that she’s curious about persuasive design techniques. She tells you she read your company’s blog post about persuasive design in mobile payment applications and she’d like to build solutions that help users improve their saving habits.
Which candidate would you hire?
Hopefully, the second one. That candidate showed their skills and interests instead of just telling you about them.
The second candidate:
- Had practical experience working on a team
- Made no errors in her written communication
- Showed curiosity and passion for the subject
- Understood what the company was working on and how she fit into the company
To get hired as an international student you must show employers that you:
- Communicate your points well, in writing and when speaking
- Offer a unique value to a company
- Fit into their organizational culture
- Can solve a problem that they are facing
- Have creative ideas
- Are intellectually curious
- Write concise, error-free emails
- Are willing to learn on the job
- Understand visa opportunities and limitations
- Have the skills and experience that match what the employer is looking for
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses
- Have confidence
- Can collaborate with others on the team, both formally and informally
International students like you are exceptional
After all, you chose to study in a new country and solve new problems daily. You’re creative because each day you learn ways to navigate a new culture. You’re naturally curious. You are some of the most creative, interesting, and hard working students competing for internships. You simply need to learn how to show employers that you are exceptional.
As an international student it takes a lot of work and creative thinking to get employers to hire you. But thousands of international students get internships and jobs in the US every year. They are exceptional. They learned how to communicate their exceptional value to American employers. And you can too.