May 8, 2019

Georgetown International Students Seek Jobs in America, Offer Global Perspectives

After forging friendships and professional relationships throughout their undergraduate years in the United States, many international students seek employment in this country both during their time at Georgetown and after graduation.

Exterior of the Leavey Center, home of the Cawley Career Education Center
Exterior of the Leavey Center, home of the Cawley Career Education Center

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by international undergraduates seeking internships and full-time jobs, Georgetown’s Cawley Career Education Center, its specialized career centers, and its Office of Global Services (OGS) provide numerous resources for international students seeking employment in the United States.

The Cawley Center, for example, organizes events to connect international students with helpful resources such as lists of employers and assistance with interviews, resumes, and cover letters. Recent events have included career fair preparation, coffee chats with international alumni, and a panel with employers sharing their perspective on the hiring of international students. 

Jodi Schneiderman, the center’s industry advisor for health, sciences, and technology sectors, coordinates these programs along with Cawley Center Director Susan Campbell. 

“We conducted a focus group last year, and one of the things we heard is, ‘We wish we could receive more guidance and mentorship from alumni.’ Due to this feedback, we focused our programming efforts on coffee chats with alumni,” Schneiderman says. “Cawley’s goal is to try to connect international students with alumni who have had some of the same challenges and successes.”

Resources at Georgetown 

OGS offers a comprehensive series of online Canvas modules, website information, in-person workshops, and one-on-one advising opportunities to help students navigate the complex compliance requirements associated with their status post-graduation.

“OGS also works closely with all career centers on campus to help promote career-related programs and events for international students in F-1 and J-1 status,” says Rachel Rubin, director of International Student & Scholar Services. 

Students can also take advantage of career and alumni databases such as Handshake and Hoya Gateway, which have features specially designed for international students. 

Job and internship postings on Handshake specify whether employers require work authorization, and Hoya Gateway allows alumni to note in their profiles whether they have an international background. 

The career center also helps students determine which employers are international-friendly and which have historically recruited Georgetown students.

“The whole conversation around visa immigration here is in an interesting time with lots of changes and speculation,” said Kara Della Croce, recruiting director at EY, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. “That said, our position on hiring folks that require sponsorship in the U.S. has remained the same. We’re a global firm. We’re absolutely looking for the best and the brightest.”

Acquiring Work Authorization

Despite specialized resources, international students still face unique work authorization barriers in the job search. 

While trying to secure a job at Capital One, for example, alumnus Aaron Xu (G’14, MBA’22) had to wait two months to receive his H-1B transfer receipt, which non-U.S. citizens need to begin employment. 

“Another issue is that once you are in the green card process, it is very difficult to change jobs even within the same company as the green card is position specific,” Xu says. 

Karissa Prayogo (SFS’20), an international student from Jakarta, Indonesia, encountered similar difficulties.

Excited to gain experience in the tech industry, she secured an internship at Rainforest QA the summer after her freshman year. But the necessary visa authorization process required her to declare her major a semester earlier than SFS allows.

“At the time, it was really stressful and all the resources are scattered everywhere so I didn’t really know who I was supposed to go to, and there was an extra barrier of me being a freshman,” Prayogo says. “If you’re an international student, you have to be really proactive about seeking those resources out yourself.” 

Marcelle Wood, chief human resources officer at Hanover Research, recommends students share their visa status early in the recruiting process. 

“Employers, especially in the D.C.-metro area, are really aware of the complications around work authorization, so you should be speaking to someone who’s pretty knowledgeable about that and can ask informed questions,” she says. 

A Global Perspective 

Overcoming adversity in the job search makes international students exceptionally prepared for the workplace once an opportunity comes their way. Many students also bring coveted multilingual skills to the table, along with cross-cultural experiences and an open mind.

“What I have found with international students is that they tend to come with a more global perspective and can think of our problems in a different way,” Wood says. “I also find them to be tenacious and hardworking. They left their families to come and study here in the U.S., so they tend to have a level of grit that is remarkable.”

“Many of our clients have operations all over the world,” Della Croce of EY says.

“The ability to manage relationships across the globe is certainly something we look for coming off of campus, and international students tend to have that.”

Prayogo agrees that international students like her bring unique assets to the workplace.

“I’m really interested in international development and social entrepreneurship, and so coming from a place where poverty is a lot more visible gives me a unique perspective,” Prayogo says. “It makes you a more interesting person to talk to in general.”

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