Career Services

Students: International Student Hiring Guide

Hiring Guide for International Studentsimage of global traveler


International students on most visas can work on the UNI campus for up-to 20 hours per week during the academic year. During summer, international students can work up-to 40 hours per week. Common places to work on the UNI campus include: Dining, Wellness & Recreation, and the Library. However, nearly every department at UNI hires students and international students compete for jobs in the same way domestic students will. Students can find jobs on the UNI Job & Internship Board.

After one year of academic studies, international students may work off-campus in an internship as long as they are registered for cooperative education. All questions regarding workforce eligibility should be directed to the UNI International Students and Scholars Office.

1) What is OPT and CPT? 
[Federal Definition]. In short, CPT is used for internships and professional training programs. OPT is used after the completion of study and allows you stay in the United States for a designated amount of time (which varies based upon the degree of completion)

2) Who hires international students?
In Career Services, we refer students to as this resource lists employers who have hired students on a visa in the past. Most employers prefer a long-term arrangement (several years) rather than just using the CPT/OPT. When making a hire, an employer often will seek sponsorship. However, the reality is that more than half of all US companies and organizations prefer not to hire someone on a visa.

3) What can I do to increase my chances to be hired?
The honest truth is that you need to be better than your American counter-parts and/or study in a high demand field such as healthcare, science, mathematics, or engineering.

4) How is finding a job in the United States different than the rest of the world?
One thing is true throughout the world, it is not what you know - rather who. Be sure to meet as many people as possible. Go to recruiting fairs, participate in internships, and work part-time. Building a network is critical.

In the United States, employers use a resume rather than a CV. A resume is a one or two page document that highlights your training. This is different than a CV which is more of a historical document of your experiences. In addition, interviews are more about presentation skills and less about demonstrating complete knowledge. Work with UNI Career Services to practice your interviewing and write a good resume.

Some employers assume that hiring an international student will be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive; many employers are not informed about the different kinds of work authorization. If you want to gain an advantage, research the process so you can educate your hiring organization.

All employers are concerned about verbal and written communication skills. They often assume that an international student will have limited English communication skills. However, you may be able to convince an employer that you can be a valuable employee if you can convince them that your communication skills are equal to your technical skills. An excellent cover letter and a telephone call to follow up can be very persuasive.

Employers use Internships (often called co-op, cooperative education, or experiential education) as a form of early recruiting for full-time post graduation jobs. Because the legal costs involved in sponsoring a non-citizen for full-time employment are high, many employers restrict the co-op/intern hiring budgets to US citizens (or permanent residents) since it is more cost-effective to invest in students they can more easily hire at graduation. However, employers could be interested in hiring you if you are the best qualified candidate with the skills they seek. Some employers - specifically federal government agencies and defense contractors - are restricted by law to hiring only US citizens. Although you may be an excellent candidate - maybe even the best candidate - you will not be able to persuade an employer in this category to ignore legal restrictions and hire you. 

Although it is illegal for a potential employer to ask you your race, nationality, religion, marital status or immigration status, they can however, ask you if you are authorized to work in the United State. Not all employers are familiar with the work authorization associated with various immigration categories, so the more knowledgeable you are about the employment options available to you; the more confident you will feel about the discussion. The International Students Office can help you to understand your work authorization options.

There are many sites on the Internet that purport to assist international students with the job search and sponsorship process. Some make false claims; others sell forms and information that are available for free from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Service website and/or from the UNI International Students and Scholars Office. Some sites give the appearance of being associated with the U.S. government with the inclusions of flags, government offices, or “official looking” logos. A website is only officially sanctioned by the U.S. government if its URL ends with the “.gov” suffix.