Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Hi Kelleys. Nachiket Kale, on behalf of the Asian MBA Association, asked me to assemble some thoughts on off-campus U.S. job searches for international students. While finding career opportunities challenges all students, it seems more difficult for international students particularly when combined with H-1B visa sponsorship issues. This is the first of four blog compendiums covering the search challenges, items to exploit, activities to control, tactical considerations to pursue, and resources to tap. The objectives are to help put these in perspective to better position you for success. They represent my opinions, and not the Kelley School of Business. Part #1 covers some common international student frustrations, employer negative reluctances and hiring reason benefits I have heard.

International Student Frustrations:
• “No” is a common answer to: “Do you sponsor visas?”
• Recruiters screen out non-U.S. citizens
• Different U.S. engagement procedures and considerations other than qualifications
• No responses to hundreds of online job applications
• Firms only talk if desire expressed to return to home country
• Qualifications should speak for themselves. “Bragging” is culturally uncomfortable
• Limited information regarding companies which will sponsor visas
• Competition from many other non-U.S. graduate students

Employer Reluctances:
• Current economy and government bailout money restrictions
• Company policy to only hire U.S. citizens in the U.S. or “experienced” personnel (not students)
• Unclear understanding and/or intimidated by the visa process to legally employ an international person
• OPT (Optional Practical Training – standard F-1 student work authorization for up to 12 month for internship) is too short for full-time positions.
• Many applicants with U.S. work authorizations with similar qualifications
• Risk of applicant not winning the H-1B lottery and needing to leave the country. Note: for FY2010 and FY2011, the H1B quotas were reached late – 2011 was not reached until 1/27/2011.
• Cost-benefit analysis and inconveniences -- sponsoring costs, attorneys, government bureaucracy
• Sub-par written and/or spoken English language communications
• Doubts about students' skills in American-style interpersonal interactions, including assertive conversation, dining, handshake, and eye contact. Note: Research by Thomas W. Harrell of the Stanford GSB showed that these are substantive predictors of post-MBA corporate success – not GPA or GMAT.
• Recruiter is personally evaluated on the quality and retention of the candidates they sponsor.

Employer Benefits:
• Solves a compelling business problem
• Offers unique talents and skills not available with U.S. applicants -- language, cultural business familiarity, license, certification, educational prerequisite, experience, and other qualifications
• Alleviates time pressure to fill a position
• Fills needs in certain geographic locations
• Interests of someone influential at the company aligning with your personal situation including: philosophies, causes, and backgrounds (including alum status)

Please add any other challenges in the blog comments section for potential discussion in subsequent blogs. Without minimizing student and employer challenges, let’s focus on what can be exploited and let go of what cannot be controlled. As you take personal ownership of your career, view the search as being in business for yourself, but not by yourself. Emulate the tactics of successful international students and use the good resources which are available. Next week, article #2 in this series will cover: Two Items Successful Students Exploit.


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