International Studies & Programs

Top Tips for International Student Career Success - from International Students!

If you are hoping to find work in the U.S. after graduating from MSU, read on for advice from our international students who were successful in finding U.S. jobs.

Back to News

Published: Tuesday, 06 Dec 2022 Author: Allison Fox

1. Start early.
As soon as you can, get connected with the Career Services Network and explore the resources on campus, join student organizations to enhance your resume, and attend career events where you can meet alumni and make connections. They earlier you start, the more you can do to develop the skills and experiences employers seek.
2. Learn about available practical training authorizations. 
Learn about CPT and OPT as soon as you can. CPT and OPT are complex authorizations and may take several weeks or months to receive required documents from employers, academic advisors and finally authorization from OISS and/or the U.S. government.  

3. Be able to explain CPT and OPT to employers. 
Some employers, especially small- and mid-sized companies, many not be familiar with CPT and OPT. Make sure you understand the programs, and can explain their benefits to employers, including that it is free to employers and does not require additional paperwork on their behalf. For more on how to have this conversation and strategize your search, connect with OISS and Career Services. And, here’s some language you can use when talking to employers about internships and post-graduation work

4. Learn which U.S. organizations hire international students
Handshake makes finding U.S. organizations that hire international students easy. When browsing jobs in Handshake, click “Filter” and “Accepts OPT/CPT” to see the list. Looking for a list that highlights where MSU international students go on to work? We have that, plus the top companies that hire international students, on the Career Services Network International Student page
5. Study in-demand fields within STEM. 
International students in the STEM field can remain in the U.S. working after graduation longer than their peers in other fields (3 years compared to 1 year). This makes STEM fields attractive because 1) employers in certain tech fields, like I.T., have difficulty finding enough qualified U.S. citizens to fill their roles, and 2) employers appreciate the employee can use those 3 years of OPT before entering the H1-B lottery.  
6. Consider graduate school. 
For full-time work, H-1B applicants with a Master’s Degree or higher have a better chance of being selected than those with a Bachelor’s Degree. 
7. Use your networks -- as a Spartan, yours is huge! 
Connect with international graduates through MSU Connect, which has a dedicated International Student and Alumni networking group. You can also connect with 300,000+ Spartan alums on LinkedIn. Both are great places to begin conversations and make connections
8. Keep your expectations realistic, and make multiple plans. 
While working in the U.S. may be your preference, we recommend you also make plans to work in your home country. You can see the top companies where international students work in their home country, along with other home country internship and job resources.  
9. Consider global companies. 
Many large organizations have locations all over the world – perhaps both the U.S. and your home country. Working at such an organization in your home country may allow you to work for them in other countries later on. 
10. Consider certain nonprofits. 
Some nonprofit organizations, such as institutions of higher education or other nonprofit and governmental research organizations, may be exempt from the H-1B cap. Given this, they may hire more H-1B employees or hire outside of the lottery timeline. 
11. Use MSU’s Career Services Network
Resume reviews, interviewing practice, connections to employers, assistance with your internship or job search – MSU’s Career Services Network offers individual advising appointments and events to help you with every step of the career planning process, and lead to a successful job search.