Even before I came to the United States, I heard people talk about how challenging it could be for international students to find a job. The truth is, finding a job isn’t hard, but finding a satisfying job that matches your career interest, and also one that provides sponsorship, can be hard. But don’t panic – with proactivity and a lot of preparation, international students can land a dream job just like their American peers.
One thing you can do from the first day of college, just like every other student, is to start building up your resume. This means a lot of exploration of what you want to do, and a lot of hard work into finding the best experiences for your dream career. From my personal experience, during my freshman year, I talked to a lot of alumni whom I found on LinkedIn. They shared with me a lot of valuable experiences both at Rice and at work, and really gave me an insider’s view about their industries. It really helped me figure out what I want to do, or at least what I don’t want to do, which is equally important. After I figured out what I wanted to do for career, I began doing research with a professor whose field matches my career interest. I am also involved in a student club, which is of pure interest when I first joined it, but really helped demonstrate my leadership ability on my resume and during interviews later on.
One thing leads to another, and soon you will find you have a lot of interesting experiences (club activity, volunteer work, job experience, etc.) to put on your resume. Then what? One thing that worked for me is to apply for as many positions that interest me, and reach out to as many people as possible. One side note is that when you apply, make sure you find out if the company offers sponsorship or not. This way you can save a lot of your energy in filling out personal information and writing cover letters. And some of the best people you can reach out to are upperclassmen who have applied for the position/interned at the company, people you meet at the info sessions and Career Expo on campus, alumni you find and connect with on LinkedIn, and many more. You never know which one will eventually work out, but it is good to build up your network!
And one last thing, be open up to new ideas and be persistent! There are a lot of opportunities out there, so don’t limit yourself or give up too fast. The perfect job may be right around the corner!
- Rachel Li, PCA, Jones College Class of 2016