Employment Resources

Coming to America: How should you prepare for a career in the States as an international student?

Estimated reading time ~ 3 min


Coming to America: How should you prepare for a career in the States as an international student?

By: Cristiana Salazar

Deciding to pursue an education and career in the United States as an international student comes with a multitude of emotions. Emotions that range from excitement and anticipation to fear of stepping out of your comfort zone and into a big unknown. Luckily the new experiences, friendships you will make along the way, and academic and professional opportunities, will make your experience worth a while. But, how do you prepare to navigate the job market and prepare for a career in the United States? In this article, we will explore essential steps and valuable tips to help international students prepare for a successful academic and professional career.

Develop Strong English Skills

Proficiency in English is a fundamental requirement for succeeding in your academic and professional career. Since high school, practice your language and writing skills. Watch your favorite TV show or movie in English, change your phone’s language to English, take advantage of free language apps and courses, read books in English, and engage in conversations with English speakers. All in all, immerse yourself in the English language from an early stage to ensure that upon your arrival to the United States, you will have the necessary language skills to thrive.

Be Aware of Your Finances

Studying in the United States can be financially demanding. Most colleges and universities do not provide financial aid or assistance to international students so it is essential to research scholarship or grant opportunities that might be available to you. It is also vital to create a comprehensive budget, including tuition fees, living expenses, and healthcare costs. Additionally, consider working part-time on campus to gain work experience and relieve some of the financial burden.

Understand Visa Regulations and Work Authorization Process

The visa application process can be complicated since regulations change all the time. Familiarize yourself with the visa regulations and work authorization requirements in the United States at an early stage. Consult with your university's international student office or an immigration advisor to ensure you have the necessary documentation. Understanding the ins and outs of the process and staying informed about updates will help you relieve a lot of headaches when applying for the student or work visa after graduation.

Student Visa Information

Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training Information

Work Visas After CPT and OPT Completion Information

Build a Strong Resume and Cover Letter 

Building a strong skilled-based résumé during high school and college is the first step to positioning yourself in college and landing a job after graduation. American colleges and universities take a deep interest in students that prioritize hard and soft skills, engage in extracurricular activities, and can bring unique perspectives and academic experiences to the table. Focusing on fine-tuning these skills throughout high school and college will help you build a diverse and stellar resume that will make you stand out from other job applicants.  

Leverage University Connections and Resources

Universities often have many resources available to help students succeed academically and post-graduation. Take advantage of the connections you can make with professors, classmates, and alumni. Networking can connect you with future employers and colleagues in your field which can provide direction, valued support, and encouragement.  

Consider Multiple Internship Experiences

Internships provide valuable work experience, allowing you to apply what you learn in classes in real-life situations. Internships can also enhance your cultural skills, foster professional networks, and increase your chances of being hired after graduation. They are a great way to explore the fields you might be interested in, and what you like and do not like about the field. 

Preparing for a career in the United States as an international student requires careful planning and preparation. By doing the right research and following these steps, you can set a strong foundation for a successful academic and professional career in the United States. So, what are you waiting for?