Job Search Strategies for International Students

Before you begin your job hunt

Employment opportunities for international students are limited by regulations of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS). The basic criteria are that students maintain their non-immigrant status, and are in good academic standing. It is imperative that you check with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) for rules and regulations that affect your employment status in the United States – both as a continuing student and after you graduate. 

UCSB Campus Resources

Those who work in the OISS will help you attain the necessary employment authorizations required to apply for a job. OISS will offer workshops in addition to walk-in appointments (Mon - Fri 10:00am-12noon and 1:00-3:00pm located at Student Resource Building, Room 3130) to help you prepare for employment opportunities. Career Services will assist you with resume critiques, interview preparation, and job search strategies in addition to hosting recruiting events to help you connect with employers.

On-Campus Jobs

These tend to be competitive, so start looking as soon as you are accepted into your program.  You will need to be on an F-1 or J-1 student category and be pursuing a full course of study in order to be eligible for these positions.

For All Students

  • Attend the Campus Job Fair, held on the Tuesday of Welcome Week during Fall quarter.
  • Handshake is UCSB’s online database of jobs and internships.  You may start using it once you are registered for classes here at UCSB.  Some, but not all, on-campus jobs are listed there.  Beyond those positions, pick up our the “On-Campus Opportunities” handout in the Career Resource Room, or view it online through our Handout Hub.  It lists departments on campus that usually hire students.
  • Going Global Country Career Guide and USA/Canada City Career Guide available in Handshake (1) US City Career guides: Include job search resources such as online job sites, local branches of staffing agencies and executive recruitment firms, career fairs, newspapers that publish job ads, and government-sponsored employment offices. Also includes H1B visa application listings organized by both USA state and metro areas. (2) H1B Visas: This incredibly robust system contains all 400,000-plus U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) H1B visa application records. Listings can be simultaneously searched by job title, occupation, employer, location and/or wage. These records are updated annually, as soon as they are made available by the DOL. 

For Graduate Students

Your department may offer positions to select graduate students. These positions are offered to students by the academic unit after the student has been formally admitted to graduate study. Please contact your department for further information. In addition, check with individual professors in your program to see if they are hiring for any of these positions:

  • Teaching Assistant
  • Teaching Associate
  • Reader
  • Tutor
  • Graduate Student Researcher
  • Graduate Student Assistant Researcher

Summer Internships

An internship will greatly improve your chances of landing a career position once you graduate.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) regulations (available in OISS) before finding an internship.  Many employers begin looking for summer interns during the Winter quarter.  Attend the quarterly Career & Internship Fair to make contact with employers and see how you might get involved with them. 

Career Positions

It can take up to 3-6 months to land a career position after you graduate so you are encouraged to begin your search early.  Try these steps to increase your odds of landing a position:

  1. Be sure that your area of study aligns with fields you apply for (e.g., defense and aerospace industries generally require that their employees be U.S. citizens)
  2. Know the rules for Optional Practical Training (OPT).  OISS has a handout about the application process.  Familiarize yourself with the issues regarding hiring international students so that you know what to expect.  Watch the online OPT tutorial.
  3. Research companies in your field to find ones who hire international applicants. 
  4. Attend Career & Internship Fairs on campus.  You can easily see which employers are hiring within your field and which ones are open to hiring international students.
  5. Have your résumé critiqued at Career Services to make sure it aligns with U.S. standards.
  6. Learn about American interview practices by attending workshops at Career Services, reading interview material (both online and in our Career Resource Room), strategize with a career counselor and practice virtually using The Big Interview.

Additional Resources

Please Review UCSB's Guidelines for Successfully Handling Job Offers