International Student Career Resources

As an international student, searching for a full-time job and/or internship in the U.S. may come with challenges as you navigate work authorization and cultural differences in the job search.

We care about you and want you to succeed!  The Career & Professional Development team, in partnership with International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS), are happy to support you as you seek out opportunities in the U.S. or beyond.

Click here to see the International Student 
Friendly Employer list and keep reading for more resources and tips!

Employment Eligibility: CPT & OPT

Before you begin seeking an internship or a job, it is critically important to ensure you fully understand employment eligibility for your visa type. Specific rules exist for on campus jobs, off campus jobs, internships and post-graduation employment. For current rules and guidelines, visit International Student & Scholar Services.


  • Be aware of deadlines and expiration dates.
  • Know the rules/regulations of YOUR legal status.
  • Provide all needed documents promptly to the employer.
  • Track the process of your application.
  • DO NOT think a problem will just "work itself out."
  • DO NOT believe what your read in chatrooms.
  • DO NOT take advice from non-ISS staff about your immigration status.


  • Only apply to positions that are applicable to your visa status: It is imperative that you don't spend time pursuing U.S. organizations and government agencies that exclusively hire United States citizens.
  • Extensively equip yourself with details of your visa status before the interview: Be informed about all the particulars concerning your work eligibility in the United States.
  • Respond to every question concerning your visa status in a direct, clear and assured manner: Any hesitance or extra elaboration might distract the employer from the true purpose of the interview, which is to focus on your skills and qualifications. The employer may unnecessarily contemplate the decision to hire you.
  • Sample responses: "I am an international student on an F-1 visa and I am authorized to work with Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation." or "I currently hold an F-1 visa and I'm authorized to work in U.S. through Curricular Practical Training (CPT)."
  • Introducing your visa status to recruiters is entirely up to you: Discussing your visa status with employers is not a requirement. However, if the employer addresses any questions regarding your work eligibility during the interview, answer the questions in an explicit and concise manner.

International Students - Job & Internship Search Strategies

There are limited H1B visas awarded each year to work in the corporate world, leading to a very competitive landscape to find jobs in the U.S.  A successful job or internship search involves using a combination of several strategies. First, review the strategies and resources applicable to all students for Jobs and Internships search on our website.   We also strongly advise that you work closely with the Career and Professional Development team as they have much expertise and experience navigating the international job search.

Below are tips specifically for international students:

Expand Your Network and Make it Work for You

Networking is one of the most effective ways people find out about positions and get hired. Networking with personal and professional contacts is often the key to securing employment in the U.S. and should be a  priority in your search.  In the U.S., it is very common for students to reach out to more experienced professionals. Having current professionals, Gies alumni and recruiters on your side increases the likelihood a company will see the benefit of hiring you as an international candidate.

Refine Your Communication and Interpersonal Skills

If you decide that U.S. employment is your first choice, you must stand out from all of your peers in regard to your verbal and written communication skills and the ability to make small talk.  Strong English language skills, non-verbal communication skills and interpersonal skills are all crucial for international students who wish to work and succeed in the US, and right now is the best time to polish those skills. Improve your English skills by getting involved in and using English language resources.

Research International Employee Friendly Employers

Be intentional about your job or internship search by researching which companies have hired international candidates in the past.  It is often more effective to be selective in submitting tailored applications to companies that have hired international candidates than to mass apply to as many jobs as possible.

US Style Application Documents: Resume & Cover Letter

Make sure you know how to write a U.S. style resume and cover letter and seek feedback from native speakers of English, the Writers Workshop and the Office of Career & Professional Development.  Resumes in the U.S. may be different from CVs in your home country. U.S. resumes do not include personal information such as marital status, date of birth, or photographs. They tend to be one page long and are focused on presenting information relevant to the position

Become Confident with Interviewing

When interviewing in the U.S., you are expected to be comfortable talking about your accomplishments, to demonstrate familiarity with the company and the job description, and to confidently persuade the employer that you are the best candidate for the position. This style of self-promotion may seem brash or boastful, but it will be necessary to adapt to the U.S. norm in order to successfully compete for positions. Interviewing gets easier with practice.  Explore the Office of Career & Professional Development resources on interviewing to increase your confidence throughout virtual and in person interviews.

Have a Plan B

Expand your pool of opportunities by applying for positions in the US and in your home country (or perhaps a third country too). Explore where your education and experiences are in demand and be open to options you previously hadn't considered!

Get Involved

It will be difficult to get a job or internship through strong grades alone. US employers value students with extracurricular activities, related hands-on experience, and leadership experience

Highlight the Skills Employers Seek on Your Application Materials

Most employers value skills and experience over high grades.   The skills most sought after by employers are the Gies Professional Pathway competencies.   Ensure that you include examples of how you have developed these competencies on your resume and in your interviewing stories.

Visit the Resumes and Cover Letter webpages for tips on how to create your US professional documents!

Please Note: Our office also offers Chinese Resume reviews for students seeking opportunities in China.

Handshake Job Board Tips

Work Authorization for International Students on Handshake

To help employers find qualified candidates, Handshake asks international students a few questions about their work authorization in the US.

1. When will you see these questions?

Before applying to your first job on Handshake.

2. What are the questions?

Are you legally authorized to work in the United States? (yes/no)

Will you now or in the future require visa sponsorship? (yes/no)

Prefer not to answer these questions. (checkbox)

3. What happens if you don't answer?

Your profile will show "Unknown" for work authorization. This might limit which employers see your profile.

4. What does "Prefer not to answer" mean?

Employers won't be able to tell if you need sponsorship based on your profile.   Your work authorization will still show as "Unknown".

Note: You will only be asked these questions once. Your answers are saved in your profile.

Review this guide on Handshake to learn about Student Work Authorization.

Global Job Search Resources

Below are resources from around the world for international seeking opportunities inside and outside the U.S.

The Career Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign- The Career Center page for International Students Resource features information on Career Programs for International Students, Work Authorization, International Friendly Companies, Job Search in the U.S., and Non-U.S. Job Search.

GoinGlobal – This resource includes tips for landing jobs in countries around the global as well as tips for various U.S. cities. Additionally, you can us the H1B Visas tab to learn about companies that have sponsored visa holders in the past.

My Visa Jobs – This site is an "employment website for foreign workers seeking opportunities in the United States."

Illinois International Shanghai Office Opened in December 2013, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's Shanghai Office operates as a natural extension of the Illinois-China partnership, serving students, faculty, staff, and alumni through outreach, protocol, and career activities.

Lockin China - This resource is provided by a China-based company named Lockin China. This company has gained popularity in its services to connect and help recruit especially CHINESE INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS in exciting, fulfilling jobs in China after they graduate from universities and colleges outside of China.

H-1B Employer Data Hub The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) maintains its H-1B Employer Data Hub to help international students and employers find more information about companies in the U.S. who have hired or submitted H-1B petitions for foreign nationals.

Additional Resources

Are you making these job search mistakes?

Is your job search dragging on? You're not alone. But sometimes, we unknowingly create roadblocks for ourselves. Here are some common mistakes that might be holding you back, and how to get back on track:

  • Going it alone:

    Finding a job is like having a team behind you. Look for mentors who can advise you, practice interviews, and help you identify your strengths. They can also be your cheerleaders when you get discouraged. Consider signing up for one of the "Home Country Job Search" group sessions led by the Career and Professional Development Office for additional support.

  • Just using online applications:

    Don't underestimate the power of referrals! Many companies offer incentives for employee referrals, so ask your network if they know of any openings. This can be a great way to get your foot in the door.

  • Being overly assertive:

    Confidence is great, but being too forceful can backfire. Let your personality shine through and be open to building genuine connections. People appreciate authenticity more than a sales pitch.

  • Doubting yourself:

    Don't let negative self-talk hold you back. There are many reasons you might not hear back from employers besides your qualifications. Focus on the things you can control and highlight your strengths.

  • Only targeting big companies:

    Don't limit yourself to established giants. Smaller, growing companies may offer a better fit, more opportunities for advancement, and a more collaborative culture.