If you are attending a US university but are not sure what you want to do after you graduate, you’re not alone. Many international students attend US universities but are uncertain about their next move once they complete their degree. If you are looking to work in the US after college, here are five steps to help you reach your goal.
1. Plan ahead. Do not wait until you graduate to start thinking about your next step. You usually have just 60 days after graduation to gain employment on an F-1 visa or enroll in another university program.
2. Start networking while you’re still in school. Talk with alumni who are also international students. Ask your professors for advice on contacts in your field of study. They may be willing to make an introduction for you. Attend career fairs. You may also want to attend industry events in the profession you’re looking to pursue. Many of these offer events where guests can attend for free.
3. Schedule an appointment with the international student office at your university. They usually have career counselors who can help you explore your options. Ask them for advice about finding employers who will sponsor work visas, and to explain the different types of work visas you could qualify for.
4. Gain work experience. Volunteer at an organization that you are passionate about supporting, or take on an internship in your area of study. This will help you learn new skills, build your resume, and make new connections that you could you find a job after you graduate. You can also apply for Optional Practical Training through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website. This is a way for you to gain practical experience in your area of study for up to a year.
5. Polish your English skills. If you aren’t 100 percent confident in your verbal and written skills in English, talk with a career counselor at your university to see what resources are available to help you. They may be able to connect you with a tutor to strengthen these skills. In addition, you can hone your English skills by reading English-language newspapers and books, listening to US radio stations, and most importantly, taking the opportunity to speak with fellow students. The more you converse with others in English, the better your skills will get!