How to Get a Job in the U.S. After Graduating From a U.S. College

You’re a foreign student who studied hard at a U.S. college. And now, you want to work in your field of study in the United States.

Finding the right job—one that uses your skills while deepening your experience, paying well, and enhancing future resumes—takes time. 

Don’t wait until you’re graduating to look for employment. Start looking six months to a year before you graduate. Here are some job-hunting tips.

closeup of keyboard with american flag and job keys
Closeup of a keyboard with American flag and job keys. Learn more about the process for getting a job in the U.S. after graduating from a U.S. college or university.

Networking

Let your friends, family, teachers, counselors, and social organizations know that you’re job hunting. People love to pass along job opportunities. It’s an easy way to really help someone they care about. 

Also, they aren’t going to knowingly pass along a bad opportunity. Since they know you, they are more likely to notice if a job description might actually be a match. 

Finally, friends are more likely to have an affiliation with the jobs they refer you to and may let you mention them when applying. If you don’t know a lot of people, start getting to know them. Attend networking opportunities with an awareness that any interaction could be a new beginning.

Get Assistance From Your University

Universities offer many services to help their students succeed in the world after graduation. A large university will have plenty of experience in assisting students from foreign countries to navigate life after graduation in the United States.

Your university likely has a careers department, which can help guide you through the confusing bureaucratic process of remaining in the U.S. to work after finishing your studies. 

You can also use your school’s resources to get in contact with alumni who were recently in your same position and learn about their experience going through the process of transitioning from education into a career in a foreign country. Those with first-hand experience can often offer the best advice on what steps to take and mistakes to avoid.

Work on Your Resume

Your resume needs to be error-free and tailored to the job for which you’re applying. In other words, unless your written English is exceptional, consider paying an expert to make sure that your resume looks professional and doesn’t contain mistakes. Make sure that the skills listed are relevant to the description of the job for which you’re applying. 

This means you may have more than one version of your resume. It costs more in time and money, but it’s worth it to get the job you want. Make sure that your profile on professional platforms like LinkedIn meets these same standards. If you have less than 10 years of work experience, you should limit resumes to one page.

Have Patience

Job hunting can be discouraging. You complete a ton of applications and go to interviews, sometimes only to receive a curt email that you weren’t selected. In many cases, you won’t hear back from the potential employer at all. Timing is so important and not always up to you. Just don’t give up, and keep your eyes open for your chance.

How to Get a Work Permit

If you were studying in the U.S. under a student visa, getting a work permit could be essential if you are hoping to remain in the country. Without a work permit or another means of securing a long-term visa or permanent residency status, you will have to leave the country. 

It is often a lot easier to secure a work permit while you are still on U.S. soil than it is to acquire one while abroad.

Around graduation, you may be able to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This document is informally known as a work permit and proves you have permission to work in the U.S. for a specific time. 

This includes students who will work in practical training relating to their majors and those extending their first EAD for work in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). As temporary residents of the U.S., most students need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to apply for, renew, or replace a work permit.

Academic Students

F-1 academic visa holders who will work at practical training jobs directly related to their major after completing their degrees can apply for work permits up to 90 days before the program ends or within 60 days after it concludes

Vocational Students  

M-1 vocational visa students who are completing their studies can apply for an EAD to work in a practical training job. Vocational students must apply for an EAD at least 15 days but not more than 60 days before their program ends. Vocational students must apply for a different visa at the same time that they apply for an EAD. 

This means that along with the EAD application, you’d file Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.

STEM Extension

A student who received a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM program listed on the current Designated Degree Program List who already has an EAD for STEM work may apply for a one-time extension of a current EAD. This can be done when the student won’t complete practical training within 24 months after receiving their degree. 

You can apply up to 90 days before the current EAD expires and within 60 days of the date your school recommends you.

Get Help With Your Paperwork From FileRight

Staying in the United States to work after you finish school is going to mean more immigration paperwork. Whatever method you use to get a work permit, you are going to need to deal with plenty more bureaucracy. 

FileRight can help ensure that all your forms are filed correctly so that your stay in the country is legal and hassle-free.

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