International students - please read this.

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Create more opportunities for yourself before it’s too late.

Either due to the recent political situation or any other number of factors, many international students feel that they have less job opportunities as many employers are not willing to sponsor H1B visas. I have interacted with enough colleagues and few students in different universities, to say that it takes more than a good resume, good grades, technical skills and basic networking to get interview calls.

Most of the international students’ post-graduation plans fall in these categories:

1. Get a job at a company which sponsors visa — STEM degree holders have 3 chances (because of OPT extension) at the visa lottery but non-STEM grads (e.g. MBA) have only one shot.

2. Go back to home country and take care of parent’s business or work for another company (If they don’t get a good job or find an employer who is willing to sponsor visa or if they are just not interested in staying here).

3. Get another degree — probably an advanced degree like STEM Masters or a Ph.D either for education reasons or to give themselves more time to get a good job and a work visa.

A good proportion of the students take huge education loans which has to be paid back as per the loan agreements otherwise their parents/guarantors will be in trouble. This seems to be one of the main concerns that scares a lot of students who are not able to land a job offer before the end of their studies or during the first 90 days of OPT period. I agree this is a pretty scary situation to be in.

I am sharing few tips below, which can hopefully help avoid such a situation:

  1. To prepare well for the future (which you cannot control), it's best to know all the possible routes you can take to get the desired result (in this case a good job). Instead of waiting till the point where you have almost no choice to change your situation, its better to plan ahead (at least 1 year) and create more opportunities for yourself so you can manage the risks properly. For example:

  2. To get three job offers before you graduate, you will probably require 15 interview calls (assuming a 20% probability 0f success). This means you should have applied to at least 75 companies where you were eligible for the job. To know 75 companies where you can apply, you should have interacted with / learned about hundreds of companies.These companies need not be the ones that every one knows i.e. managemen