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Throughout my years helping international students as a career advisor I have always been impressed with the efforts I see from this population of students with regards to their work ethic to start early with their career development and to stay on top of their internship or job search. That’s why when I hear that smart, talented and interesting international students experience “Roadblocks” in their attempts to work in the US, I am disappointed.

This week I was fortunate to meet a recent Northwestern University alum who has been successful in gaining work internships and full-time work in the US. If you even spent 5 minutes with this individual you would want to hire him too. I know I might be a little bias but honestly, this alum was eloquent, intelligent, interpersonal, welcoming and professional.

And he also had great advice and encouragement for other international students seeking to stay in the US after graduation. Below are his tips with my commentary:

  • “Think globally, Act locally”- In other words, embrace that you have a global viewpoint on life, work and culture, but understand the local traditions, values and communication techniques to be a part of your local community.
  • “Educate potential employers on your skills and abilities (i.e. Adaptability, Relate-ability and Empathy)”- You have already been through a significant process just coming to the US for school. Therefore, you have proven that you can adapt and learn a new language, culture and be successful. Avoid the underselling of your abilities.
  • “Start Early”- This advice warms my heart because it is something that I have been working to express to students for over 10 years. From the start of new student orientation be thinking about how everything you are learning relates to your plan for the future. Meet with a career counselor in your freshmen year to learn what options are available to you.
  • “Participating in Internships are Key”- International students who participate in internships in their home country or in the US during their college career will likely have a better chance of being offered a full-time job. With internships you gain skills, expertise, technical abilities and a company will gain knowledge of who you are and see that they would be foolish to let you go to another company.

If you are an international student do not let this stop you from seeing a future in the US. Yes, laws and regulations of work authorization can possibly be “Roadblocks”, but know that my office (http://www.northwestern.edu/careers/undergraduate/diversity/international.html) and the International Office (http://www.northwestern.edu/international) are here to help.