Transitioning to the U.S. and job-hunting as an international student can be difficult, especially when understanding the differences in cultural and employment norms across cultures.
University Career Services works collaboratively with the International Students and Scholars Services (ISSSO) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) to support international students. We encourage you to build relationships with people at each office to learn about our services and resources and to understand how your visa status influences your career search.
Terminology Defined: Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Before beginning your internship or full-time job search it is important that you understand the options for employment available to you and the terminology associated with them. For a comprehensive overview click here.
What is an Internship?
An internship can be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid. What distinguishes an internship from a part-time job or volunteer work is the intentional “learning agenda.”
It is up to you to establish a learning plan with your supervisor and faculty advisor that meets your learning goals while completing the required work for the position. All academic internships require pre-approval by your academic advisor.
What are the benefits of an Internship?
What are the requirements to receive academic credit for an Internship?
Each college and academic program has different requirements regarding the registration for and obtaining of academic credit. Be sure to connect with your department chair and/or program advisor for details.
** PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOU CANNOT START YOUR PAID INTERNSHIP UNTIL THE ISSSO HAS AUTHORIZED YOUR EMPLOYMENT ** Please read more on the requirements found here.
What steps should I take to prepare to apply for an Internship?
You will need a strong resume to apply for an internship. The first step is to review Writing a Resume & Cover Letter tip sheet and sample resumes on St. John’s University Connect. You are also strongly encouraged to make an appointment with your Career Advisor to review your resume. If you apply for an internship through On-Campus Recruitment jobs on Handshake, most of these internship opportunities require that you have your resume reviewed and approved by your Career Advisor before you can apply for the On-Campus Recruitment position.
You can also review the Preparing for the Interview tip sheets on St. John’s University Connect, practicing interviewing using Big Interview, and scheduling a mock interview with University Career Services. You are strongly encouraged to practice your interview skills as much as possible.
When do I search for Internships?
Begin your search for an internship several months in advance of the time you would like to start the internship. Application deadlines for many companies are 3-6 months or 1 year prior to the start date. Research your major and industry to identify companies/opportunities. Also, be sure to apply for internships that accept applicants with an F-1 Visa status.
Develop your class schedule to include time and availability for an internship before you begin your search. Internship opportunities occasionally may last longer than one semester.
When do I search for full-time job opportunities?
Begin your search for full-time job opportunities several months in advance of when you will complete your degree program. Application deadlines for many companies are 3-6 months or 1 year prior to the start date. Research your major and industry to identify companies/opportunities. Also be sure to apply for job opportunities that accept applicants with an F-1 Visa status.
You will need to apply for OPT through ISSSO’s website found here approximately 3-4 months prior to graduation.
What steps should I take to prepare to apply for a full-time job?
You will need a strong resume to apply for a full-time job. The first step is to review Writing a Resume & Cover Letter tip sheet and sample resumes on St. John’s University Connect. You are also strongly encouraged to make an appointment with your Career Advisor to review your resume. If you apply for a full-time job through On-Campus Recruitment jobs on Handshake, most of these opportunities require that you have your resume reviewed and approved by your Career Advisor before you can apply for the On-Campus Recruitment position.
Utilize Your Embassy: Often embassies maintain lists of contacts for employment.
Handshake: Handshake allows current students and alumni access to job, internship and campus recruiting listings; registration for Career Services programs; workshops, information sessions, career fairs and other event information; along with additional career development and employment resources. You can search opportunities by ‘work authorization optional’ to identify those that may be more open to international candidates. Access Handshake 24/7 on the St. John’s University Connect app - Click on Resources, find Career Services and click on the Handshake.
My Visa Jobs [myvisajobs.com]: This site provides a list of employers from top H1B sponsors.
Vault: This site provides a list of the best internships by industry. You can also apply for internships on Vault. Access Vault 24/7 on the St. John’s University Connect app - Click on Resources, find Career Services and click on the Vault.
Vault Blog: 4 Ways International Students Can gain US Work Experience with F-1 Visas
U.S. Immigration Services [https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states]: This page provides a summary of employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa classifications and other categories of aliens who are eligible for employment authorization. Each classification provides a link to more detailed information on its requirements.
Employers are expected to maintain a discrimination-free environment, which protects candidates from discrimination based on race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, or any other characteristic which may be specified in such laws and regulations.
What can an employer ask?
Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?
Will you require visa sponsorship now or in the future?
What can an employer not ask?
Federal and New York State laws prohibit employers from asking certain types of questions and from using non-job related information in the selection process. All questions and case analyses should be job related. Questions that are designed to directly or indirectly elicit information about a candidate's age, marital status, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity (including citizenship and national origin), derivation of name, religion affiliation or beliefs, arrest record or physical disabilities that are not related to the candidate's ability to perform the job are not permitted.
Below are some examples of illegal interview questions:
Questions Regarding Your Name:
Q. What kind of name is _______?
Q. Why did you change your name?
The above two questions are illegal to ask in an employment interview because they are trying to divulge ancestry or marital status. An employer can ask, however, what your current legal name is and whether you ever worked under a different name (to verify employment).
Questions Regarding Sex, Marital Status, and Family:
Q. Are you married/single/divorced?
Q. Do you have or plan to have children?
Q. What does your spouse do for a living?
Q. Who do you live with?
All of the above questions are illegal. All questions regarding marital status, sexual preferences and family are illegal in interview situations. An employer may legally ask if you are able and willing to travel as needed for the job or if you are willing to relocate.
Questions Regarding Age:
Q. How old are you?
Q. When were you born?
An employer cannot legally ask how old you are. They can ask, however, whether or not you are between the ages of 18 and 70, or whether you are over the age of 18. Proof of age for insurance purposes may be required after you are hired.
Questions Regarding Address/Residency:
Q. Are you a citizen?
Q. Where were you born?
Q. How long have you lived in the United States?
Q. What foreign addresses have you had?
Q. Do you rent or own your home?
All of the above questions are illegal to ask in an interview. Employers may ask whether you are authorized to work in the United States for other than practical training purposes. Employers may ask if you are hired, if can you provide proof of your eligibility to work in the United States. "Employers may ask the place and length of your current address. Any inquiry into the place of your birth, or the place of your parents/spouses/relatives birth is illegal.
Questions Regarding Religion:
Q. What is your religion?
Q. What religious holidays do you observe?
All questions regarding religion are illegal.
Questions Regarding Disabilities:
Q. Do you have any handicaps?
Q. Have you had any illnesses or operations?
Questions about physical or mental limitations that are not job-related are illegal. Employers may ask whether the individual has a mental or physical disability that would relate to his/her ability to perform the job. And if so, what duties they would be unable to perform.
Questions Regarding Arrests/Convictions:
Q. Have you ever been arrested?
Arrests without convictions do not indicate guilt. Employers may ask have you ever been convicted of a _______?
(a crime reasonably related to the performance of the job, ex: inquiries about embezzlement convictions if a position requires financial responsibilities.)
Key differences between US culture and other cultures for internship and job search
US Employer Expectations
Possible Differences with Other Cultures
Openly discuss your achievements in resume, when networking, interviewing and following-up.
Citing achievements is boastful.
Take ownership of your internship or job search.
Find jobs through family or government.
Share your opinion and provide examples or facts. Be curious and ask questions. Maintain good eye contact.
Be direct and making eye contact is disrespectful.
Taking an interest in the person you are speaking with is an important part of building relationships with potential employers.
Be polite and passive.
Research Industry and Company
Demonstrate interest in the company you are interested in by learning about the organization’s industry, products, services, locations and competitive landscape.
Research may indicate undesirable initiative or independence.
Be resilient, patient positive and committed
Understand your value as an international student
Target international companies
Become fully conversant in discussing your visa status
Should I include my visa status on my resume?
Be sure your Resume and Cover Letter are in US Style format
Develop your networking skills
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSSO)
Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA)
Conversation Partners Program
International Host Family Program
University Learning Commons
University Writing CenterSt. Augustine Hall (University Library), Room 150
Email: [email protected]
Schedule an appointment: stj.mywconline.com
Global Culture and Language Center
Location: St. John’s Hall Rooms 104, 105, 106
Schedule an appointment: Go to St. John's SignOn, select Resources and then Academic, scroll down to Other Ressources and then "Global Language & Culture Center" and click on the "Make an appointment" link. Create your account to log in and make your appointment.
Chiang Ching Kuo Hall (CCK)
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @GetHiredStJohns , Twitter: @GetHiredStJohns
LinkedIn: Career Services, Facebook: StJohnsCareerServices
Staten Island Campus
Email: [email protected]