Career resources for international students
For international students at Virginia Tech:
Career and Professional Development (CPD) can assist you with non-immigration topics in your career development, including: exploring majors and careers; seeking experience such as internships; skills and resources for seeking after-graduation employment; and planning for more education through graduate or professional school.
- Career and Professional Development advisors are happy to help you with non-immigration career-related matters, such as job search strategies and skills (including resume writing, interviewing, networking, identifying employers, effective communication), and considering graduate or professional school.
- Career and Professional Development (CPD) cannot provide immigration advice.
- Your work authorization is determined by your visa status. Depending on your visa status, such as F-1 or J-1, you may be eligible to work on-campus, off-campus, or both.
- Before seeking any form of employment, whether paid or unpaid, you must determine whether you are able to legally work in the United States (also referred to as work authorization). To do so, you (both undergraduate and graduate students) must contact the immigration advisors in the Cranwell International Center at Virginia Tech who can advise you on requirements, eligibility, changes, and other information you must know. You may also wish to read the resources below about work authorization in the U.S.
- Mini-appointments (15 minutes) are for undergraduate students for resume reviews and quick questions; these are usually with a Peer Career Advisor (PCA), and occasionally with a professional advisor.
- Regular appointments (30 or 60 minutes) are with a professional advisor. Our advising staff have many years of experience and cover various appointment types and topics.
- For more in-depth topics, please make a regular appointment (not a mini-appointment) which allows time to talk about cultural expectations and the proper strategies to search for jobs and internships in the U.S. and to learn more about resources available to you.
- Remember, as stated above, that CPD advisors cannot advise you on immigration matters.
- See advising for how to schedule appointments and more information.
Advising on your work authorization
- It is your responsibility to be up-to-date with changes to work authorization in the United States and your individual eligibility.
- Both undergraduate and graduate students should direct your individual questions on this topic to the Cranwell International Center.
- Career and Professional Development is not authorized to provide immigration advice.
Official U.S. government information related to working in the U.S. as an international person
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Information on working in the United States as an international person.
- United States Department of Labor (USDOL) Foreign Labor Certification: Information for employers and for "foreign workers" on working in the United States.
Job search resources
Employers who have sponsored H-1B visas
- MyVisaJobs.com: Explains work visas. Under H-1B, resources, has lists of H-1B visa sponsors by job title, state, city, occupation, industry, and much more, including average salaries.
GoinGlobal multi-national resource
- GoinGlobal is a service that universities can purchase for the benefit of their students. Career and Professional Development has purchased this service so that you, as a Virginia Tech student, have access.
- Contains resources for international students seeking H-1B sponsorship.
- Includes an H-1B Visas tab; use to search for companies and job titles that have been sponsored through H-1B visas since 2009. Even if you are looking for experience through OPT/CPT/Academic Training, using this search feature can be helpful, because these employers have hired international individuals in the past and therefore might continue hiring international students in the future.
- Also includes guides for the job search in over 100 countries and cities, with information on resume writing, job search engines, and financial / cultural considerations.
- Commisceo Global.com: Guide to American culture, etiquette, and business practices.
- Firsthand.co/library/collections/international: Many free-to-read articles for international students on the job search. Note this site also offers fee-based services, and as stated above, Career and Professional Development does not endorse or recommend any fee-based services or products that might be offered.
- Inside Higher Ed article: Job search tips for international students: Although not stated in the article title, this article is directed to graduate students; however, undergraduate students can make use of the advice.
- International Student.com > working in the U.S.A.: The site is primarily related to education, but this article addresses types of work possibilities for international students, and includes links to information on American culture.
- Interstride.com includes how to get a job with no work experience as an international student.
- On Point interview about challenges international students face in getting and staying employed in the U.S., and how other countries are taking a different approach; link includes audio and transcript. (6/23/2023)
Fee-based service for international students
- ICAWay.com provides fee-based services. As stated above, Career and Professional Development does not endorse or recommend any fee-based services or products, so we are not directly linking to this site. We have listed this resource because it was provided by the Cranwell International Center at Virginia Tech, because it is endorsed by the National Career Development Association (NCDA.org). If you wish to explore the fee-based offerings, you can look for the website ICAWay.com.
Certain visas, such as F-1 and J-1, can provide the authorization to work on-campus and/or off-campus. To determine if you are eligible to work in the United States, contact the Cranwell International Center at Virginia Tech.
Each employing organization determines whether they will hire international students, and they must abide by U.S. regulations related to hiring of international workers. If an employer’s policy is that they will not hire international students, you must continue searching for employers that are able and willing to do so.
A consistent piece of advice from experts and from international students who have conducted a successful search for U.S. employment is that networking is an essential job search strategy. Throughout your time as a student, build and maintain relationships with faculty, professional contacts, and students and alumni ahead of you in your academic program. This is one strategy in the process of discovering potential employers who might be open to hiring people with your skillset and education, and for whom your work authorization might not be a barrier.
As an international student, you may be placed in the position to explain the employer responsibilities concerning OPT/CPT/H-1B to a potential employer. If you do not feel comfortable doing so, you can direct the employer to information about work authorization in the U.S.
There is no correct answer to this question. You are not required to list your visa or work authorization status on your resume or cover letter. However, you may be asked about work authorization on a job application, and you should answer honestly.
You may wish to share your international student status with an employer upon first contact. Doing so will reduce the likelihood that you will go through the hiring process with an employer that cannot hire you because of your work authorization. This can help save time for both the student and employer.
Some students wait until the interview stage, during which the student has had a chance to sell yourself to an employer. For employers that are unfamiliar with the process of hiring international students, this can give the student a chance to explain the process and potentially persuade the employer to hire international students.
Note: do not wait until the end of the process to inform an employer that you are an international student. Not only does this waste time if they are unwilling to hire international students, but they may view you as untrustworthy for hiding this throughout the entire process. You could risk having a job offer withdrawn due to not providing accurate information.
Your off-campus employment must be related to your field of study. If you are unsure whether your employment meets this criteria, please speak with your immigration advisor in Cranwell International Center.
- The Cranwell International Center provides complete information and rules about Curricular Practical Training (CPT). You must follow the procedures that office explains.
- Career and Professional Development administers the Undergradute Cooperative Education and Internship Program (CEIP) which provides options for undergraduates to be enrolled in a Virginia Tech zero-credit course (CEP 4084 for full-time work; CEP 3084 for part-time work) while completing an internship or co-op through Curricular Practical Training (CPT). See Undergraduate CEIP for complete information and requirements.
- PLEASE NOTE: Graduate students interested in cooperative education must consult the requirements of the Virginia Tech Graduate School. On their website you can search for "graduate student cooperative education." (They frequently change the URL for this page, so we advise that you search their site for this topic.)
The employer will petition for H-1B visa sponsorship on your behalf, so you must seek employers that are willing to do so. More information about H-1B visa sponsorship can be found through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- The job search is competitive, and there is not a guarantee for anyone to secure a job in the U.S. after graduation, within your grace period. It is vital that you also search for employment in other locations including your home country to increase the likelihood that you will find employment after graduation. You can search for jobs and internships in many countries using GoinGlobal which is described and linked above.
- Also see the articles and advice section above.
- Review the strategies you have been using, and seek advising for help. Applying for large numbers of jobs that are not a good fit for your qualifications is generally ineffective, and therefore not the best use of your valuable time and effort. A better use of your time is to be strategic in seeking opportunities where your skills and education are a fit, and to devote more energy to research and networking to find those opportunities.
- For U.S. employment, take efforts to make sure your oral and written English can be clearly read and heard, and do any practice that you might need.
In the United States, some questions cannot be asked during an interview; the reasons are to avoid the appearance of discrimination, and to avoid actual discrimination. Therefore, interviewers cannot ask questions about a candidate’s age, race/ethnicity, gender/sex, country of origin or birthplace, religion, disability, or marital/family status. If you are unsure whether or not you have been asked an illegal question, contact Career and Professional Development.
Employers are legally able to ask two questions related to employment authorization (wording may vary):
- Are you authorized to work lawfully in the United States for (employer organization name)?
- Will you now or in the future require (employer organization name) to commence/sponsor an immigration case in order to employ you?
- All individuals — students, employees, and others — are targeted by scammers. Scammers try to steal people's money and/or identity by lies and fraud.
- International students can be particularly vulnerable to, and sometimes are targeted by, scammers.
- Before you reply to any email or phone contact, familiarize yourself with our employment scam information and resources. Do this for your own protection.
International Student Career Week
- Career and Professional Development collaborates with the Cranwell International Center to offer these eight workshops in fall 2023, during the week of September 18-22, on topics including work authorization and skills for a U.S. job search.
- Workshops are open to both undergraduate and graduate students.
- See details about International Student Career Week on the Cranwell Internation Center website.
- Career and Professional Development offers workshops for students on various career and job search topics. Some of these topics may fit your interests and career development needs.
- Some workshops are designed for undergraduate or graduate students, and some are open to both.
- Workshops are listed in Handshake and you can see details there.
Employer information sessions
- Many employers host information sessions to explain their career opportunities. These help you in the process of researching employers, and, if you decide to apply to an employer, your application can be strengthened by what you learn in their information session.
- Each employer specificies their recruiting interests, including majors, degree levels, and work authorization.
- Employer information sessions are listed in Handshake and you can see details there.
- There are many Virginia Tech-affiliated career fairs, most hosted by academic colleges or departments. Remember that the real employment world is not organized by major, so you can research fairs regardless of the host organization.
- See the Virginia Tech career fairs list to find the specifc website and details for each fair, so you can mark your calendar to prepare. Within a couple of weeks prior to the fair date, each specific fair should provide its list of employers attending, and other information for you as a student. Research the employers attending each fair to see their recruiting interests, including majors, degree levels, and work authorization.