International Career Tools

Special resources for international students.

Understanding U.S. Culture

In the U.S., it is important for you to be able to identify your individual contributions to an organization. International students have talents that can easily be “sold” to an employer in a cover letter or interview. Some of these characteristics include:

  • multilingual skills
  • geographic flexibility
  • proven work ethic
  • motivation
  • thirst for continual learning
  • adaptability to new environments
  • knowledge of global business practices

Capitalize on these talents, in addition to the other skills your education, past experience and extracurricular activities have given you.

Challenges

Often, international students experience challenges in landing jobs in the U.S. because they are competing in an environment that is completely different than the one in which you were raised. Not only can written and verbal communication skills present difficulties in attempting to translate thoughts into a non-native language, but business cultures, customs and expectations vary greatly in other countries.

On this page:

Great Resource

Dreambridge Partners 
is a leadership training and career-development coaching firm, which has videos on:

- U.S. culture
- Cultural expectations
- Small talk
- Interviewing
- Job search

Examples of Challenges

The following issues have traditionally come up for international students and can be addressed through your education before your job search commences. (Note: These conflicting values represent a cross-section from various cultures.)

Issue Expectations in U.S.
Self-promotion 
  • Assertiveness; openly discussing your individual accomplishments.
  • Follow-up with employers (telephone inquiries, thank you notes, etc.).

 

Individual responsibility in finding employment 
  • Use of a wide variety of resources in identifying jobs, including social networks, friends, family, contacts, associations, career services and academic mentors.
  • Networking by candidates; personal referrals can carry great weight in evaluating a candidate’s potential. 
Directness in communication 
  • Open and direct responses to questions.
  • Eye contact with interviewer, relaxed posture.
  • Discussion of salary and benefits only when initiated by interviewer or at time of job offer.
  • Candidate asks questions about the job at the end of the interview.
Career self-awareness 
  • Demonstration of self-awareness, as well as career goals and how they relate to job.
  • Discussion of long-range career plans.
  • Ability to be self-directed in one’s career development.
Punctuality 
  • Arrive 5 to 10 minutes before appointment.
Informality in the interview process 
  • Congenial interviewing environment that encourages openness, some joking and exchange of information.
Effective cover letters and résumés 
  • One-page, error-free, concise and attractive outline of relevant job experience, skills, accomplishments and academic credentials.
  • Personalized to reflect your individual strengths and capabilities.
Individual equality 
  • Race, sex, age, religion and political opinions and are legally not supposed to affect the interview process.
  • Politeness and respect are shown to all employees a candidate meets, whether receptionist or CEO.
Knowledge of organization prior to interview 
  • Obtain as much information as possible about the company before the interview.
  • Demonstrate awareness of organization in letter of application and during the interview.

Modified from original source: “International Students and the Job Search.” Goodman, A.P., J.A. Hartt, M.K. Pennington and K.P. Terrell, Journal of Career Planning & Employment, Summer 1988

Additional Resources

Dreambridge Partners: a leadership training and career development-coaching firm, which focuses on understanding the U.S. culture and its expectations as well as strategies for living, studying and job hunting in the U.S.

Improving English Language Skills

U.S. employers consistently rate communication skills as one of the most desired qualities in both new hires and seasoned executives. How well you communicate will set you apart, both in the hiring process and later as you advance in your career. Below are a list of tips for improving your English language at home and on campus.

English Resources On Campus

UB English Language Institute
Offers a variety of programs to assist students in developing their English language skills.

  • ELI Chat room
    Contact ELI office at 716-645-2077 or at elibuffalo@buffalo.edu  to sign up for a conversation slot with a native-English speaking undergraduate volunteer for the upcoming week. (Free with student ID)
  • Open Listening Labs
    Stop by rooms 1 and 3 Clemens Hall (basement) on Tuesdays from 4:30-7 p.m. and Wednesdays  from1 3:30 p.m. to work on your pronunciation.  A monitor will assist you with choosing the proper recording and materials.  Dates and times may change.  Contact 716-645-2077 for updates. (Free with student ID)
  • ELI Evening Program  
    The Evening Program hosts non-credit courses that are specially designed to increase participants’ fluency and comprehensibility in English.  There are a variety of courses to choose from including the highly recommended “American English Pronunciation.” These courses have a cost associated with them.

Center for Excellence in Writing 
Multilingual students may take advantage of the Center for Excellence in Writing’s individual consultation service as needed, up to three visits per week. Ongoing appointments attend to your particular writing needs as well as help you to accelerate your proficiency in written English. Writing is an essential skill in business. Schedule an appointment today. (Free with student ID)

Additional Tips to Improve Your English

  1. Befriend American students. The more you converse with native speakers the faster your language skills will improve.
  2. Watch television and movies in English with the English subtitles on.
  3. Listen to English speaking podcasts and watch TED Talks.
  4. Keep a journal of new words.
  5. Follow English language social media and post comments in English.
  6. Make a “Speak English Only” agreements with friends who share your native language on campus.
  7. Consider becoming a tutor at UB. Previous UB international students have found teaching difficult subject matter to other students has greatly increased their pronunciation and confidence in interacting with native speakers. Apply to become a tutor.

Commonly Misspelled American English Words

There are several common career words that are misspelled by international students. Set your Microsoft Word and word processing documents to American English to ensure that spell check will catch these common mistakes.

United Kingdom or
Commonwealth Spelling

American Spelling

Analyse

Analyze

Behaviour

Behavior

Capitalise

Capitalize

Centre

Center

Familiarise

Familiarize

Fulfil

Fulfill

Instal

Install

Judgement

Judgment

Labour

Labor

Maximise

Maximize

Modelled

Modeled

Optimise

Optimize

Organise

Organize

Practise

Practice

Prioritise

Prioritize

Programme

Program

Realise

Realize

Utilise

Utilize

Visualisation

Visualization

CPT and OPT Basics

As an international student, it is important that you understand the regulations associated with your visa. Explanations of work eligibility (whether it be on or off campus) for students studying with a F-1, J-1 or H-4 visa can change depending on what curriculum you are taking within a university. Therefore, attending workshops and reading guides provided by UB’s International Student Services (ISS) and attending workshops provided by the School of Management will arm you with the necessary information about your eligibility to work or intern on or off campus.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a type of work-authorization used for F-1 students to complete off-campus training experiences.

  • The primary purpose of CPT is to gain practical experience in the student's field of study.
  • The training experience must be an integral part of an established curriculum and directly related to the student's major area of study.
  • The student must also enroll for a course that requires an off-campus training experience.
  • CPT is not possible for all F-1 students because it is dependent on the academic requirements of a specific academic program.

Please note that “employment” is defined as any type of service for which a benefit, including academic credit, is received. Therefore, even if the student will not be paid for the internship, they should obtain CPT authorization.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an F-1 student benefit that allows you to work off campus in a job related to your major. It is meant to supplement your academic experience with practical experience. Optional Practical Training may be authorized for a total of 12 months. Students in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) can qualify for a STEM extension.

STEM Extension

UB Master of Science in Management Information Systems and Master of Science in Finance programs qualify for the optional practical training (OPT) extension for the F-1 students with science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees.

Talk to Employers about OPT

If you need some help talking with potential employers about OPT, refer to our Employment Visa Frequently Asked Questions

This means that international graduate students in these programs may qualify for an extension of their post-graduation work authorization (OPT) up to a total of 36 months. Additionally, graduate students on an international visa who earned their undergraduate degree from an accredited U.S. institution in a STEM designated program are also STEM designated.  Some employers are more willing to hire and petition for candidates who are earning a STEM designated degree because the candidate gets more chances at the lottery.

When Should I Apply for OPT?

Once you have graduated, you should be ready to work when an employer wants you. If the employer has to wait for your employment authorization document (EAD) card so you are eligible, the employer may select its second-choice candidate instead and you may miss out on that job opportunity. We have seen this happen many times.

  • Note EAD processing times have increased in recent years especially for June graduates. Approval may take from 90 -120 days.
  • Therefore, we recommend that you submit your OPT application to ISS 90 days prior to your completion of degree conferral date to allow sufficient time for ISS and USCIS processing.
  • Then, choose your employment authorization start and end date. You may choose any start date between your degree conferral date and the end of your 60-day grace period. 
    • For example:
Degree Conferral Date Choose any EAD start date between
June 1 June 1 and July 31
February 1 February 1 and April 1 (leap years are an exception)
September 1 September 1 and October 31

The U.S. Job Search

Generally the job search for new graduates, both domestic or international, is very self-directed. The school’s involvement includes planning career events, organizing on-campus recruitment and résumé drops, connecting you with alumni at your request, and preparing students for the job search through educational seminars and one-on-one advisement. However, as a student (or new graduate), your responsibilities include selecting career and industry areas, perfecting your correspondences so they are ready when the time comes, staying abreast of events and opportunities, attending activities, meeting people who can help in your career advancement, searching for companies in industries or geographic regions that interest you, sending applications, following up appropriately, preparing for interviews and more.

How to Make Yourself a More Attractive Candidate to U.S. Employers

  1. Get your résumé and cover letters reviewed by a career counselor, employer or alumni.
  2. Become thoroughly familiar with immigration regulations and benefits attached to your visa status.
  3. Research the employers and positions in which you are interested.
  4. Participate in a mock interview.
  5. Practice speaking confidently about your skills, interests and career goals.
  6. Improve your English skills by speaking up in class, making presentations and expanding your circle of native English-speaking friends.
  7. Create and actively use a LinkedIn account.
  8. Network, network, network. Get to know influential people at companies in your target industry. Refer to the CRC's networking resources.

Preparing Résumés and Cover Letters

A well-prepared résumé and cover letter are essential to getting a job interview. For a U.S. job search, your résumé and cover letter must conform to basic, generally accepted standards.

Expectations in U.S. Details
Résumés are generally one page. U.S. employers expect one page per ten years of related experience.
Personal information is usually excluded. Do not include your picture, birth date, age or marriage status.
Do not list English as a skill.

The employer will assume you are fluent, so do not give them a reason to question your English skills. Your domestic competition never lists that skill. The marketable and unique skill is the language that is foreign to the U.S.

 

Do not assume U.S. employers understand your international GPA. Most employers in the U.S. would consider a percentile of 80 percent to be a “low B” average and barely passing a graduate-level program. Yet, in many countries, 80 percent is fantastic. It is difficult and often inaccurate to calculate percentile into a U.S. GPA on a 4.0 scale. Therefore, we recommend you use other methods to show your success, such as your class rank or phrases like “top 10 percent in class” or “graduated first class.”

The CRC has several resources on our website and in the office that can assist you. If you are creating a résumé for the first time, begin by using the CRC Résumé Guide and résumé template.

Challenges and Opportunities

Work in the U.S. is not guaranteed, nor promised, to foreign nationals entering the country on a student visa. In addition to quotas set on the number of skilled foreign workers legally permitted in the country, the following factors contribute to the difficulty you may experience trying to find employment in the United States.

Challenge

Recommendation

Networking

A large difference between the U.S. employment market and other parts of the world is the reliance on networking.

Networking is a learned skill.  Let the CRC help you develop it.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 48% of all job connections are made through personal contacts. Therefore, networking is essential in your career development. Visit our networking resources to learn more.

Lack of visas

Employers question if hiring an international candidate is worth the risk of losing him or her in one year due to the H-1B visa situation.

Be the candidate who can fill their need and be ready to be hired when they need you.

Show them you are worth the risk. Have your EAD card on time and know yourself and what you have to offer. Be able to explain why you are uniquely qualified.

“Pro-American culture”

Some employers like to hire people who are like themselves.

Become a Buffalo Bills fan.

… or a Chicago Cubs fan or get a U.S.-focused hobby. Show employers that you have become ingrained in U.S. culture and see yourself here for the long term. If you can express that in a cover letter or interview, you will ease the employer’s reluctance.

Lack of commitment to the job

Employers fear that foreign nationals will return to their home country after a year or two and are reluctant to invest resources into training them. It is common for international employees to leave for another company shortly after the H-1B is granted; the companies they leave perceive the experience as negative and are less likely to hire again.

Choose a company—not just a job.

Show commitment to the company by doing your research, and be able to explain why you want that company, not just a job. Never give the impression you want any job to get your H-1B. You should get a position with a company based on what fits your future career goals. Also, consider moving to the city you plan to live in, or even discuss the benefits of owning a home versus renting.

Hiring complexities

Many employers are unfamiliar with the process of hiring an international student and therefore believe it is complicated and expensive.

Become an expert.

The more you understand what it takes and how easy it is, and the better you can communicate that, the easier it will be to convince an on-the-fence employer.

Communication

Employers are concerned about foreign nationals’ ability to communicate effectively in verbal and written English with clients and internal personnel.

Practice, practice, practice.

Even if you have been speaking English most of your life, there may be nuances that can be tweaked by spending more time with U.S. classmates, participating in customary U.S. activities, practicing interviews, joining a club or attending events. Always get your correspondence critiqued before sending.

Cost

Fees to hire an international candidate can exceed $6,000 per candidate to petition for an H-1B visa and if the employee is already trained and ingrained in the culture and the petition is not approved, the cost adds up to start the hiring process over.

 

In the budget?

The cost of $6,000+ per candidate is about the same as many companies’ signing bonus and is often budgeted into the hiring plan for the year. Smaller companies and nonprofits pay much less. Do not give in and offer to pay; it is illegal for the candidate to pay government fees.

Employment restrictions

In general, as a foreign national you cannot work for the U.S. federal government, most U.S. state and local government agencies or some private companies contracted by the government. Your visa status will be less of a barrier with other industries and employers.

Focus on companies who do hire

International students will find strong employment prospects at organizations with an international focus, such as the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, World Bank or African Development Fund. You may have more success with U.S. companies that have an international presence. Your experiences, language and cultural fluency make you attractive. And, if your H-1B is denied, you may be able to continue work in your home country.

Identify Employers Who Hire International Students

MyVisaJobs

Identify companies who have petitioned for H-1B visas by geographic region, functional area and more. Use this site to create a targeted list of companies or identify if the company you are applying to has hired international talent. Contains job postings for international candidates. Go to MyVisaJobs.com.

Foreign Labor Certification Data Center

Provided by the U.S. government, the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center discloses relevant information about H-1B petitions by companies in recent years. This resource shares a lot of information about the petitions including the companies who hired internationals, jobs titles, salaries, cities of the companies, as well as the locations where the hired person is working, and more. If this company hired an international candidate before, they should be on your list to investigate. Note: review the tab marked Disclosure Data, then scroll down to LCA Programs (H-1B). The entire website has helpful information about H-1B and permanent resident filings. Explore the full site for more information. Go to the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center.

Companies Hiring International UB Graduates

Review employers who have hired international graduates from the University at Buffalo School of Management. Companies Hiring International UB Graduates [PDF]

International Recruiting Events

Attend events and engage with recruiters who hire international graduates. Go to International Recruiting Events.

Helpful Resources

Immigration

UB Library Resources

These directories are available in Lockwood Library on UB's North Campus.

  • Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries
  • Directory of Foreign Firms Operating in the United States