5 Takeaways for International Students on the Job Hunt: Job Search in the US, with Dan Beaudry

“Job Search in the US for International Students” with Dan Beaudry focused more on how to hack the hiring system rather than the logistics of it, in particular the informational interview path. Whether you follow the steps discussed here or not, he reminds us that the time to start is NOW.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the visa process
    1. It’s important to start the job search with talking to HIO to figure out what visas you are eligible for and what the employers have to do to keep you in the US
    2. Know that a job offer doesn’t guarantee you a work visa

When you read the “Will you require visa sponsorship?” question, you might wonder why an employee would refuse to support you. Maybe they are already swimming in applications and don’t want to risk offering sponsorship (which costs time and money) to someone that might lose the visa lottery. However, all these worries will be pushed aside if they can’t find the skills they are looking for or someone of influence advocates for you. Then, it is your responsibility to give them a reason to want you!

  1. Look beyond the posted jobs
    1. The Hidden Job Market: the majority of the jobs are filled without traditional posting, but through referral hiring
    2. There is no magic list of companies that will sponsor you
    3. First talk about what you have to offer, then discuss the cost of visa sponsorship

How do you convince the right people in the company to want you? Dan advises that the secret lies in informational interviews.

  1. Initiate conversation
    1. Informational interview are great for getting information and communicating that you are looking for a job
    2. However, you reach out for an informational interview as a researcher, not a job seeker. This means that you should not ask for a job or send a resume.
    3. Find people in professional associations and Harvard alumni directories, as people are more likely to answer if you have something in common (use Harvard email address)

Regardless of your good intentions, you will hear back from very few people. After bumping your message a couple of times, you should make the most of the responses you did get.

  1. Enjoy the interview 
    1. Be honest about the visa status if asked, but don’t mention it unprompted
    2. Reveal your value through questions
    3. Place the spotlight on the interviewer
    4. Be a good listener and give before asking
    5. Understandably, this process might feel uncomfortable to some international students. Try to practice with familiar people (professors, mentors) and learn through failure.
  1. Embrace the lengthy process
    1. You will not receive a job offer immediately after an informational interview: you have to build on that relationship and this process takes time
    2. End your interview by thanking the other person and asking for suggestions on other connections (“Is there anyone else you suggest I reach out to”) and use that referral (“(former interviewer) speaks highly of you and suggested I reached out”) to expand your network
    3. Follow up after the initial meeting: connect the interviewer with another person, follow up on referrals, ask them if you can meet up at conferences

The process of finding a job as an international student can for sure seem daunting and confusing. Throughout the process, don’t forget that there are always Harvard resources ready to help you (HIO, OCS) and remember that the value that you bring is significantly greater than the cost of a visa.

Check out Dan’s website https://www.powerties.net/, especially the US Job Search FAQs and blog posts!

Ariana-Dalia Vlad’24, Co-President of Woodbridge International Society

By Ariana Vlad
Ariana Vlad