Int’l students get job help at panel

Finding work in the United States can be hard for international students, even if they have obtained a degree, according to a panel of experts.

The International Student Council hosted the panel discussion about applying for different work visas and finding companies that will help international students get the visas they need.

Lisa Christensen, Career Services assistant director, talked about two options for working in the United States. The first option allows students to apply for curricular practical training while they are still in school. The training allows students to work for less than 20 hours a week for one year in fields related to their degrees. It is easier to get the training if the student’s degree involves science or technology, but Christensen tells students who are working on degrees in the humanities: “Don’t limit yourself by a job title-be creative.”

In the year after graduation, students can apply for optional practical training. The optional training allows students to work 40 hours per week for up to one year after they graduate, and is important because it allows students to “make the connections and contacts while they’re still at the university,” said Lorina Tester, non-resident alien employment coordinator for the U’s International Center.

Tester discussed the different types of visas that students can use in the

U.S. work force.

H1-B visas, which are working visas that allow a person to work in the United States for up to six years, have become much harder to get in post Sept. 11 America. “It’s because the people involved in 9/11 were on F-1 student visas,” Tester said.

Having international students in the work force benefits companies that can’t fill all their positions with U.S. citizens, but “People are afraid to do anything that seems anti-American,” Tester said. Because of this, “America has lost 35 percent of its work force in the past two years.”

Many students found the information panel helpful in their search for work.

“The session itself was very helpful, especially having a career person, a lawyer and an employer. The little details helped. I wish it was a little longer because I had more questions that, due to time, were not answered,” said Jimmy Mahfoud, a civil engineering student.

For more information about career options for international students, go to the Career Services Web site:

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