Jumpstart Your U.S. Job Search

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Landing a dream job in the U.S. may not be as impossible as you think. Check out these pointers from the Career Center to give yourself a head start on the job search.

Story by: Charlotte Chang

“What are you doing after graduation?” The question plagues seniors on every corner of campus. Navigating the immigration paperwork and employment regulations can be overwhelming. But with some pointers from the Career Center, international students can get a head start to finding that dream job in the U.S.

Brush up on your social skills. In the past, employers at Career Fairs have told Elaine Dauncey, Assistant Director of the Career Center, that they want international students who feel comfortable working with Americans. “Language is not the issue; it’s really the social part of it,” she says. “Make sure you’re interfacing with Americans. Join clubs which would not necessarily be within your culture community.” You can also sign up for programs specifically designed to prepare international students for the American job hunt like “East to West,” which dives into cultural differences in networking and professional etiquette, and “Dining Like a Diplomat,” which targets the interview process.

Build your network. “Eighty percent of jobs come through networking whether you are domestic or international,” says Lori Shreve Blake, Alumni Services Director. Head to the Career Fair, hosted every semester, and the annual Career Fest. “This past fall, we had around 155 employers that attended the Career Fair and about a third of those were hiring international students,” she says. At Career Fest, international students can get a leg up at the Diversity Networking Mixer, which features top employers in different industries seeking diverse members of the Trojan family.

Play by the rules. “We encourage students to only go to companies that say they hire international students,” says Elaine. “The companies that say they do or they don’t, it’s a policy that can’t be changed.” Students should also check ConnectSC regularly, particularly GoingGlobal. “It has both abroad and domestic jobs in different cities, regulations, permits – whatever is needed in that country and that company,” she says. “There’s an option on there for international students called H1-B, where they can check on companies that have applied for visas the year before so that gives them a good picture of which companies will hire international students.”

Everyone needs practice so start early, wherever you are in your studies. Practice, engage face to face with people, and stay politely persistent. Most importantly, Lori says, “Be flexible. You might not find a job in Los Angeles. Take those blinders down and be open to working anywhere in the U.S. if your goal is really to stay in the U.S.

For the Career Center’s event calendar and other offerings, check out http://careers.usc.edu. Start today and good luck!

This story was originally published on April 23, 2014. 

Charlotte Chang is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is from China.