Career Resources for International Students

Georgetown University’s programs draw exceptional graduate and undergraduate students from nearly every corner of the world to pursue a diverse array of degrees and career goals. 

While many international students want to work in the U.S. during or after their studies here, others plan to return to their home country or work in a third country of interest. This site will focus on relevant issues for international students who wish to work in the U.S. If you are looking for resources related to employment in another country, our partner Passport Career is a great next step.

As an international student, you likely possess qualities that top employers seek:

  • A global perspective based on a variety of experiences
  • Multilingual and cross-cultural communication skills that are critical for companies competing in a global economy
  • the ability to be flexible and adaptable when change occurs; the ability to handle new situations

In 2013, the British Council reported that, “More and more business leaders are identifying real business value in employing staff with intercultural skills. These skills are vital, not just in smoothing international business transactions, but also in developing long-term relationships with customers and suppliers. Increasingly they also play a key role within the workplace, enhancing team working, fostering creativity, improving communication and reducing conflict.  All this translates into greater efficiency, stronger brand identity, enhanced reputation and ultimately impact on the bottom line.” (Read the full report here.)

As an international student, you will also face special challenges in getting internships and jobs in the U.S. Complex and changing visa regulations, a lack of clear information about which employers hire international students, and cultural differences will require additional time and effort from you. While perhaps obvious, it is important to allow additional time for your search in order to learn about employment policies and practices that may affect your situation.  

Connect as soon as possible with the Office of Global Services in Car Barn, Suite 210 for all visa and work permit questions.  

The resources and advice collected here can be a useful starting point as you consider your career development as an international student. Visit our center and other spaces on campus (LINK to section entitled Georgetown Resources for International Students) to connect with staff members who can help you navigate this process.

International Student Job Search 

While your search for a job or internship in the U.S. will have much in common with the job searches of your American peers, you, as an international student, should consider a few additional strategies. Locate U.S. companies doing business in your home country, international corporations or those with an international focus, and organizations that hire international students.

Reflecting on Identity and Career Development

Your international background is just one part of your identity; there may be many aspects of identity at play as you think about your career path. You might find it helpful to reflect on the following questions on your own, with a friend, with someone from your academic department, or with a staff member at the Career Education Center.

  • How is your academic experience in the U.S. what you expected, and how is it different?
  • How is your job or internship search in the U.S. (or a different country) what you expected, and how is it different?
  • How important is working in the U.S. to you?  What other countries might you consider?
  • How does the American process for finding jobs differ from the process than in your home country?
  • What seems to be the popular industry choice among your peers or GU students, and how does that affect your own process?
  • If this is your first time living in the U.S., know that learning to live in a new context can be stressful. How are you taking care of yourself during this process?

Researching Organizations That Hire International Students

You probably have concerns or confusion about whether employers in the U.S. will hire international students. Online research and networking conversations can help you to identify organizations that have hired international workers in the past. Consider the following resources as you conduct online research:

Passport Career’s USA H-1B Employer Database 
This database includes more than 340,000 U.S. employers who have provided H-1B Visas/Work Permits to non-Americans. While this is not a list of positions you can apply for, this database provides valuable information about what employers applied for this visa in the past. You can search the database using a keyword, minimum salary, company names, city, state and job-type. As a Georgetown student, you have free access to Passport Career and this database; click here for information on how to register.

My Visa Jobs
My Visa Jobs identifies employment opportunities for foreign nationals who want to live and work in the U.S. and Canada. Search annually updated lists of employers accepting H1B visa holders. Sort lists by state, industry, job title. This site also contains information about work authorizations, searching for jobs, and information about a variety of industries. 

E-Verify
E-Verify is a program run by the U.S. government used mostly by employers to check employee records and eligibility. Search for employers that provide work authorization and sponsorship.

LinkedIn
Join the Georgetown International Students & Scholars group on LinkedIn to connect with international alumni for advice on careers, options available after graduation, and more.

Cawley Career Education Center’s Job and Internship Fairs

Our center hosts two large fairs each year in September and February. When employers register, we ask them whether their company hires international students. When you view the list of employers coming to each fair (available online a few weeks before each fair), you can sort the employer list by their answer to this question.

It can take quite a long time to conduct this research. Our staff is ready to work with you as you look for opportunities and identify potential leads.  It is challenging, but certainly possible, to make progress!

Networking: Research, Finding someone to talk to, Asking Questions

What is networking?
The term ‘networking’ describes a variety of actions taken to establish and develop professional relationships and to exchange information about jobs, organizations, or industries. Networking is ideally a two-way street, where both participants learn new things and advance their career goals. You have probably heard that networking is an important part of finding a job in the U.S.  This is true!

It may be helpful to know that many American students also feel unsure about how to network. Read on for more information to help you learn more and make a plan. Our center also partners with the Office of Global Services to offer networking workshops just for international students so that you can learn more and practice.  

Why is networking important? 
In the U.S., networking often plays a critical role in learning about jobs and in being considered a candidate for jobs.

It is common for professional contacts to recommend someone they know to their hiring manager. Networking rarely results in getting hired on the spot, but it can sometimes lead to a company giving your application more careful consideration.  

When you are interested in working for a company, it is often the expectation in the U.S. that you seek out employees of that company to learn more about it. This can be a way to demonstrate to an employer that you are very interested in their organization (which is important), and that you’ve done your homework to understand the organization. The one-on-one conversations you have can help you make a more informed decision about whether you really want to work for that organization.  

Who should be a part of my network?
Anyone. Make a list of every person you know (friends, faculty, relatives, former co-workers, neighbors, and past acquaintances). 

Where should I network? 
Anywhere. You might meet someone at Yates, in your neighborhood or dorm, on the Metro, at a faith-based event, or in a variety of other places. Practice introducing yourself and asking questions so that you’ll feel comfortable as you engage a new acquaintance in a conversation about his or her experiences. It can be helpful to have something in common with a person (such as academic background or a connection to Georgetown) but it is not necessary in order to start a conversation.

Organized Events. The Cawley Career Education Center offers a variety of events and programs to help you meet and network with employers and alumni. Employer information sessions, industry programming, career fairs, our alumni networking events, and our annual Careers For the Common Good event are just a few of the ways we connect you with employers and alumni.

Georgetown Alumni Databases. Georgetown has searchable alumni databases to facilitate one-on-one conversations. Hoya Gateway provides customized connections to alumni who are eager to share their career stories, review resumes, and help you practice for interviews.

Georgetown’s Alumni Career Network is another database searchable by industry, geographic location, major, and more. Click ‘Access the Career Network’ to get started.

Georgetown Alumni Clubs: If you are hoping to work abroad, check out Georgetown's alumni clubs to see if an alumni club (with events and contacts) exists for the country in which you’re interested.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is amazing! Students are often surprised by the many ways they can use this site. For an overview, visit LinkedIn's student site.

Setting up a profile is the first step. Connect with ‘Jane Hoya’ to see an example of a strong student profile. Joining groups related to Georgetown and professional organizations can generate leads and give you access to people with similar interests. Join the Georgetown University Alumni Group and search for alumni on Georgetown’s university page. Quality is more important than quantity; make sure you are making meaningful connections and joining groups of interest to you.

LinkedIn’s Companies pages contain rich information about organizations based on LinkedIn profiles. You can also follow companies that interest you. Viewing a company’s insights page can offer helpful information, such as employees with new titles, and top skills of employees. Following companies will keep you in the loop with regards to jobs and company announcements.

Jobs in the U.S. and other countries are posted on LinkedIn as well. Explore students.linkedin.com (scroll to the bottom of the page) to search for internships and entry level positions.

How do I make contact?

Before you contact anyone for networking, make sure your resume is updated and flawless. You’ll use it to give your contacts a sense of your background before meeting them, or leave it behind as a reminder of your skills and experience.

Once you have established a list of people to contact, set up an organizational system to help you keep track of correspondence. Students often use a spreadsheet to organize information:

Name Org. Title Email Phone How found? First Contact Heard back? Mtg Date Thank you?
E. Harlan IJM Development Assistant em@ijm.org

201.555.1212

Hoya Gateway 8/12 Voicemail Y 8/20  

How do I introduce myself? The Personal Pitch

Before you attend a conference, career fair or organized networking event, you can prepare by drafting and practicing a personal pitch. A personal pitch concisely describes your relevant qualifications, accomplishments, and goals as you move forward. Preparing a personal pitch will help you make a good first impression, convey confidence, and articulate what you’re looking for. An example might be as follows:

“Hello, Dr. Smith. I attended your session this morning and appreciated your insights regarding BCM theory. My name is (your name here). As a sophomore at Georgetown University, I have been taking coursework in biology and neuroscience as well as working in a lab at the Georgetown Medical Center. I plan to matriculate directly into a master’s program so that I can participate in neural network research. I am interested in your work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. May I email you next week to ask some questions about your research there and how I can position myself for work like yours?”

What is an Informational Interview, and how do I set one up?

An informational interview is a brief meeting—in person, over the phone, or by email— in which you ask questions about a person’s career path, his or her current position, how you might position yourself for a similar job, job hunting strategies, and more. It is common in the U.S. to email, call, or message someone working in a job, company, or industry in which you are interested and ask for an informational interview. Informational interviews are the most common form of networking for students.

While informational interviews often lead to job or internship opportunities, it’s important to remember that the most effective interviews are conducted with the goal of learning (about an industry, about possible job openings, etc.), not simply landing a position.

Send a message through LinkedIn or Hoya Gateway, send an email, or make a phone call to set up an informational interview. Below is a sample message:

Dear Mr. Griffith,

I found your name and contact information on Georgetown’s Alumni Career Network. I am a rising junior in the Georgetown College, and hope to pursue a career in secondary education upon graduation. Given that you have over five years of experience within this field, I would appreciate the chance to ask you a few questions about your career path and your experience in the public school system in Tennessee.

I realize that this time of year is likely a busy one for you. I am hopeful that you would be willing to speak with me over the phone or via email at some point during the next two weeks. Please let me know if you are able to talk with me and if so what method of communication would be preferable.

Thank you very much in advance for your time and insight.

Sincerely,
(Your name here)

What should I talk about during an informational interview?

The content of your informational interview will vary depending on your goals and the interviewee’s background. Do some research on your contact and his or her organization, and prepare questions that will help you build on your research. This HBR article provides an overview of the American version of 'small talk,' which may be helpful to you as you start a conversation.

Consider the following categories and questions for ideas:

Preparation • How did you choose this career field? • What types of experience are essential? Is graduate school important for someone in this field? • What types of employment or internships would you recommend? • What are entry-level opportunities in this field?

Present Job

  • Describe a typical work week.
  • What skills or talents are most essential for effective job performance? What are the toughest problems you must deal with?
  • What is the most rewarding part of your job?
  • What obligation does your work place on your personal time?
  • How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, hours of work, vacation time, place of residence?

Nature of Organization

  • How would you define the office culture?
  • What is the average length of time employees stay with the organization?
  • What type of formal or on-the-job training does the organization provide?
  • What new product lines and/or services are being developed?
  • How does this organization compare/differ with its competitors?

Future Alternatives

  • How rapidly is your career field growing?
  • If you decide to make a change in your career, what other types of work would you consider?
  • When people leave your organization, what might they go on to do?
  • Is a graduate degree an important part of advancement in your field?

Job Hunting Strategies

  • Does your industry or company have a general timeline for posting positions?
  • How do people find out about jobs within your industry or company?
  • What job titles should I be looking for?
  • What specific aspects of my background should I highlight on my resume? In a cover letter? In an interview?
  • What other related organizations would you recommend I pursue? Is there a certain person within this organization whom I should contact first? May I use your name when I contact them?
  • I plan to submit an application to your organization. Are there other recommended ways to follow up?

Matching Your Background to a Specific Organization

  • For which entry-level positions would I be best suited? What would be the appropriate way to pursue these positions?
  • Who is the person to whom I address my cover letter? May I use your name when I contact them?
  • What is a reasonable salary range for entry-level positions?

Keep a record of your interviews. Names, titles, addresses, dates, and topics of discussion will help you remember who told you what, and how to get in touch with your contacts. Once you have completed the informational interview, send a thank you note immediately. Email and regular mail are both acceptable.

How do I keep in touch?

Keeping in touch can take several forms. If you are searching for a job, let your contacts know the outcome. Email to ask a follow-up question. Look for contacts at conferences or other events and use LinkedIn to stay in touch.  

Write thank you notes. If someone has answered your questions, given you a lead, reviewed your resume, or helped you in some way, acknowledge their efforts by writing an email that day.

Give others something they need. Forward an article related to a professor’s work or a conversation you had. Offer to connect your internship supervisor with resources at Georgetown.

Help others succeed. As a “man or woman for others,” you can be a resource for classmates as they begin their own searches.

Resumes & Cover Letters

You probably know that you need a resume if you want to apply for a job or internship. Outside of the United States, “CV” and “resume” can be used interchangeably to describe the same document. Insidethe United States, the term “curriculum vitae” (or, more commonly, “CV”) describes a document used to apply for positions in academia and research, and “resume” describes a document used to apply for all other jobs. Generally speaking, a resume in the U.S. is a one-page document that summarizes your experiences and how they relate to a specific job. If you want to create a resume for your home country or another country, use Passport Career to learn about resume guidelines by country.  

Document guidelines vary between industries, so it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with examples from your field. View the resume section of our website for more information about writing a strong resume for U.S. jobs.  Come to workshops and appointments with the Career Education Center and the Writing Center for support. 

Employers use cover letters to determine your interest in the position and company, and to assess your writing. Your cover letter  should highlight aspects of your experience that are most relevant to the position you are applying for.  See the cover letter section of our website for more information about writing cover letters. 

Interviewing

After you have submitted your application for a position, you may be contacted for an interview.  Interviews can be stressful for any student, but of course can seem even more daunting if you will be interviewing in a non-native language or unfamiliar culture.  

Interviewing Tips for International Students

Research the company culture beforehand by using websites such as Glassdoor and by conducting informational interviews.

  • Study technical or industry terms that an interviewer may use.
  • Make a list of skills or qualifications you have as an international student (foreign languages, regional expertise, adaptability, etc.). Practice using specific and relevant examples to highlight your accomplishments.
  • Provide context to achievement or work experience if they occurred in your home country.
  • Know all of the immigration work regulation options that govern your status and be able to explain them confidently to the interviewer if asked.
  • Mention your work eligibility if you make it to the final round of interviews or are asked to travel for an interview. Don’t wait until travel arrangements or an offer have been made, as this could cause delays or be seen as misleading.
  • Do not apologize for your immigration status or for being an international student.
  • Do not exaggerate your achievements to compensate for your immigration status.
  • Do not allude to the idea that your primary goal is to stay and work in the US.

View the interviewing section of our website for sample questions and more information about how to interview well. Our center also partners with the Office of Global Services to offer interviewing workshops just for international students so that you can learn more and practice.  

Many international students have questions about how to talk about their international status in a U.S. job interview. Visit the Know Your Rights section of this page for more information and examples. 

American Corporate Culture

Some international students have spent a lot of time in the U.S. and are very familiar with the cultural dynamics in this country. If you are new to American, however, you likely have questions about U.S. workplace culture. When you meet with faculty or staff members at Georgetown and network with others, you can ask questions about the culture in certain industries, companies, or in general.  

These articles can provide helpful context as well:

Talks about the rising importance of corporate culture and what people look for as they job seek

The changing workplace schedule, and why people desire it

Corporate culture shock, with a focus on employees who come from foreign offices but there is good general information about navigating new cultures

A difference in how bosses and employees view workplace culture

Business etiquette basics.

Know your rights

Below are questions we often hear from international students who want to work in the U.S. after graduation:

Can employers limit their interviewing and hiring to U.S. citizens?  
Sometimes, if citizenship is deemed to be an essential part of the position. The National Association of Colleges and Employers has some helpful information on this topic

Should I list my immigration status on my resume? 
You do not need to list your visa status on your resume. Your educational background and work history will display that you are an international student. You should never lie about your immigration status, but are not required to disclose it on a document.

When in the hiring process do I reveal that I’m an international student?  
Some employers adhere to strict policies against hiring foreign nationals. Others may prefer to hire U.S. citizens, but can be otherwise convinced. It is usually recommended that students wait until an employer asks, but be aware of whether the company has petitioned for visas in the past. If you are being asked to travel for an interview, it would be wise to ask, “Is this a position in which the company is willing to petition for an H1-B as I am currently on F-1 status?”  

For an additional perspective on this question, read this excerpt from a presentation by Adrienne Nussbaum, Assistant Dean for International Student Services at Boston College. 

Are there questions that are illegal for an employer to ask me?
An employer MAY NOT ask: "What is your visa type, nationality, place of birth?" or "Of which country are you a citizen?" "What is your native language?" or "What language do you most often speak?"

An employer MAY ask: "Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?" or "Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for an employment visa?" "Which languages do you read, speak or write?" (provided that foreign language skills are job related)

I hold an F-1 visa. What should I say when an employer asks about my work authorization?
Explain that you have the legal right to work in the U.S. for up to twelve months using Optional Practical Training (OPT) following graduation. The employer does not need to do anything in order for this to happen. If you have graduated with a degree in one of the STEM (Sciences, Tech, Engineering, and Math) fields, then share that you are eligible for a 24-month STEM extension of your OPT. If you do not have a degree in a STEM field or if you've completed your STEM extension, you should explain that your work authorization can be renewed for another three-to-six years with H-1B status. If the employer asks for more information, you should be able to clearly explain the H-1B process. To learn more, OGS hosts an H-1B session each semester. Helpful hint: Avoid using the word “sponsor,” instead use the word “petition” when speaking about H-1B status.

Georgetown Resources for International Students

Office of Global Services
The Office of Global Services (OGS) provides immigration advising as well as cultural and educational programming for international students. If you have questions about your visa status, immigration regulations, cultural adjustment, or resources available to you as an international student, you can visit an International Student Advisor during walk-in hours. Ultimately, as an international student in F-1 or J-1 status, it is your responsibility to understand and be familiar with the Department of Homeland Security regulations relating to your immigration status. The International Student Advisors at OGS are your primary resource for educating yourself about your rights and responsibilities as an international student.  

Career Centers at Georgetown University
Our center and other university career centers offer support for anyone considering jobs, internships, or an overall career direction. 

Some graduate students have their own primary career centers. Stop by to learn more about our programs and services.

Academic Programs
Professors and department heads can sometimes provide information about potential career opportunities or how other students have used their academic training to find jobs or internships.  

Writing Center
This center, located in Lauinger Library, offers free tutoring sessions for Georgetown students who want to improve their academic or professional writing. You can make an appointment here. Tutors at the Writing Center are trained to support second-language writers and their appointments can be a helpful supplement to the Career Center’s same-day appointments as you work on documents needed for your job search.

Passport Career  
Helpful resources for international students include: a searchable list of employers who have sponsored visas in the past, and interactive webinars on how to find a job that will sponsor a visa specifically for international students. To sign in for the first time, use your Georgetown email address and the following Georgetown registration key: gtown987.