Discuss International Student Career Success at NAFSA Region X

International Student Career Success Session NAFSA

In June, NAFSA Region X held the annual 2016 NY/NJ Downstate Conference at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, NJ.

Barbara Church-Kattan, Director of Graduate Business Career Services at Frank G. Zarb Business School, Hofstra University, and Surabhi Lal, Director of Career Services at Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, New York University, joined Di Hu, Co-founder of interEDGE, to present on the session “International Student Career Success: What Works? What doesn’t work?”

Di Hu started the session with data and research to set the context. In the last five years, the number of international students in the American institutions has increased by 40 percent to reach one million. Career opportunities are one of the determining factors in student’s decisions to study abroad. Many institutions encounter challenges in effectively supporting international student career success, including:

  • The number of international students increased, while the number of H1-B visa sponsorship has remained the same.
  • The job outlook for international students in 2016 is stagnant with a slight decline, according to NACE Job Outlook Report 2016.
  • Many international students “believe they have greater access to job or internship than is the reality”, according to WES’s Career Services for International Students: Fulfilling High Expectations.
  • Almost 60% of international student respondents to a survey admitted that they were unfamiliar with career services, according to NCDA’s Resources for Partnering With International Students
  • International students underestimate cross-cultural competence in their professional development, while employers believe soft skills such as communication and intercultural adaptability make international students more competitive as job candidates.  

Barbara Church-Kattan drew from her 18 years of experience in career services and discussed emerging issues, priorities and trends for Graduate Business Career Services (GBCS) at Frank G. Zarb School of Business, Hofstra University for international student’s career success. She shared GBCS has its priority to engage international students early and to keep them engaged throughout academic program and to offer an overview of services at the “New Student Orientation to GBCS” prior to classes starting and  introduce the required career management program to all full-time MBA/MS students, “Roadmap to Success.”

GBCS offers a wealth of strategies, programs & resources supporting international student career success:

  • Roadmap to Success: four-semester connection program including career development workshops, personal coaching appointments, corporate and alumni connections through various programming such as Executive Speakers, Industry Panels, Alumni Networking Events, Corporate Visits and small group work on job/internship search and mock interviewing.
  • Collaboration with International Student Affairs Office for programming on CPT, OPT, and H1B Visa issues with an attorney.
  • Reality based training from alumni on panels and at networking events for students to meet and learn about internship and job search success stories.
  • The second-year student panel on “How they got their internship”
  • Online resources: MBA Exchange, GoinGlobal, H1-B Visa, MYVISAJOBS.com, Big Interview (online mock interviews)
  • Integrate cross-cultural awareness speaker program
  • Start a “Peer Mentor” program using second-year students having had internship successes and were a leader in a Zarb Graduate Student Association to offer assistance with cultural adjustments and benefits of GBCS to reach career goals.  (1 Mentor for 3-5 1st year students).
  • What worked or not:
  • Roadmap to Success should be established as a required zero credit course as participation dwindled in the second year.

Surabhi Lal, with her specialty in cross-cultural, interdisciplinary career coaching, highlighted a multicultural and multidimensional perspective in career services. She reminded the audience that searching for a job impacts many facets of one’s life. She shared a few success tips including:

  • Provide multiple orientations. At the beginning of the year, international students have so much information to digest. Setting aside time later in the semester to discuss careers, OPT, CPT when students have adjusted to being in class.
  • Encourage international students to come to career services early and often. Having a relationship with a career counselor from the first semester is helpful in navigating the US workplace. I have found that it is easier to discuss multiple career options, including working back in one’s home country, earlier rather than in the student’s last semester.
  • Leverage current relationships with multinational employers to see if offices in other regions of the world are open to collecting resumes from your campus.
  • When hosting career fairs, ask employers if they are open to hiring international students for internships and full-time positions. Make this information available to students.

Click here to access the powerpoint.


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