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International students can improve their odds of finding jobs in the U.S.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sometimes the path to your dream career may be a winding one. This can be especially true for international students who want to work in the United States. Just ask Emma Lu, a December graduate from the Krannert Master’s in Human Resource Management program.

Lu is a Human Resources Specialist at Cummins Emission Solutions in China.  But getting a job with Cummins, her top targeted employer, took a great deal of patience and persistence.

She just missed getting an offer to work at Cummins in the United States when she interviewed with Bruce Parkinson for a student internship. After graduating, she returned to China and applied for a trainee position at Cummins China Headquarters in Beijing.

“She just missed out on that opportunity as well,” says Parkinson, director of employee engagement at Cummins in Columbus, Indiana. “But, during the interviews for that position, someone from Cummins was impressed and ended up calling her back for another position, which she ended up getting.”

Parkinson had a reunion with Lu during a recent trip to the Cummins plant in Beijing. “It is quite a story of perseverance on Emma’s part and it also shows how important timing is to everything, particularly when there is a company that you really want to work for.”

Now at Cummins, Lu could have an opportunity to transfer to a location in the U.S. eventually. But for now, she is very happy being part of the Cummins team in China. “I feel like Cummins is a big family. People here enjoy their work, lives and communities. Cummins is a global company and I really love the diversity. I hope to have an international assignment sometime in the future.”

Randall Lewis, executive director of the Krannert Professional Development Center, says Purdue is working to help international students find employment in the United States with the Purdue Pathways program.

Purdue partners with a law firm to outsource the entire U.S. Visa application process, which can be intimidating for some companies. “We try to make it as easy as possible and take away some of those obstacles for small to midsize companies,” Lewis says.

Unfortunately, more international students graduate in the U.S. each year than there are Visas. “Annually there is an allotment of Visas that are granted. That allotment is set by the federal government. All colleges and universities are competing for these Visas. You can enter into a lottery and still not be chosen,” Lewis explains.


To improve your odds of finding work in the United States:

  1. Broaden your search to include global companies both in the U.S. and your home country. You could begin working for an international company at home, and transfer later to the U.S.
  2. Leverage your knowledge of the culture and markets in your home country with employers in the U.S. That knowledge in addition to your education is a great combination of skills.
  3. Be aware of cultural differences when you attend career fairs and networking functions with American recruiters.
  4. Start the job search process early. It will probably take international students a little longer to find a good fit. Talk to recruiters at companies you are targeting. Talk to alumni and students.
  5. It’s going to take time, you need to be prepared for that. Don’t get so frustrated with the job search process that it stifles the way you present yourself to employers.
  6. Utilize all of your resources – faculty, classmates, the career center, KPDC, info sessions, etc.
  7. Just because certain companies say they are looking for U.S. citizens, don’t be afraid to ask. A lot of companies may be interested if you show them you have something special. That something special could be your knowledge of your home country.
  8. If English is your second language, do everything you can to continually improve your communication skills, both verbal and written. It may mean taking additional courses. I would highly recommend that.

- Advice from Randall Lewis, Executive Director, Krannert Professional Development Center


Other things to do:

  1. Be proactive in LinkedIn. Create a great profile. On LinkedIn you can contact people from your home country with full-time jobs in the U.S. Ask for their insight and suggestions. Also, contact recruiters to see if they sponsor. If the answer is a no, do not waste your time.
  2. A good source to check to see whether a company is sponsoring or not: Great resource! Check the website and you will understand what I mean. 
  3. Be patient and honest. Looking for a job can feel like riding a roller coaster: application, interview, rejection...again and again. But trust me, it is not because you are not awesome, it's just not the right job for you. Good luck, Boilermakers!

- Advice from Krannert alum and Cummins employee Emma Lu