International students get job search tips at seminar

Devan Coggan

About 50 Northwestern students from all over the world met in Norris University Center Tuesday to learn about finding a job in the U.S.

The Job Search for International Students, a seminar sponsored by University Career Services, hosted lectures about how to turn being an international student into an advantage in the job market.

Manfred Bauer, a first-year Medill graduate student from Guatemala, said he attended the seminar to get a better understanding of the American job market.

“This is my first time jumping into the U.S. labor market and I want to find out more about it,” said Bauer, who has been in the U.S. for a month.

During the seminar, UCS career counselor Christina Siders discussed basic challenges international students may face in looking for a job.

“Some employers may think that because students are here from elsewhere in the world, they may not be as committed as U.S. applicants,” she told the audience. “Show them that you’re interested in growing with the company.”

Siders advised students to become familiar with what it takes to acquire an H1B, the visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ international workers. Some employers know nothing about the visa process, so it is the applicant’s responsibility to have a basic knowledge of what he needs to work in the states, she said.

“(Employers) will assume an H1B is very complicated or expensive, and it’s neither of these things,” Siders said.

Siders also reviewed basic interview tips applicable to any student looking for a job such as making eye contact, writing thank-you notes and having a firm handshake. Employers have reported instances of the “limp Northwestern handshake,” she said.

It can also be difficult for some foreign students to be confident with potential employers, she said.

“Self-marketing in interviews can seem arrogant at times, but that’s the expectation here,” Siders said. “That’s a bit of a cultural shift for many international students.”

Being an international student, however, is not automatically a drawback. Siders said many international students have skills that set them apart from other applicants, including multiple-language proficiency, a global perspective and adaptability.

Elena Chernyakova, a Communication senior from Russia, said she attended the seminar in anticipation of graduation.

“I’m looking for a job now instead of in the spring,” she said. “At the very least, I’m looking for more information of where to look and how to get a head start.”

No matter the student’s origin, looking for a job in the current economy can be tough, so it’s important to be proactive, Siders said.

“The pool of opportunity can be shallow,” Siders told the audience. “Begin early.”

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