Welcome to the Career Development Office (CDO)! We hope that you will make use of the many services and programs offered through our office early and often during your time at Pomona College.
We understand international students may encounter unique challenges when it comes to securing internships and employment in the U.S.; therefore, please lean on our advising team who can help you navigate and prepare for future career opportunities either in the U.S., at home, or around the world.
As a liberal arts college student, it is essential to take time to define who you are, what is important to you, and what you want from your career. And, as an international student, it is also important that you learn about U.S. work culture and start to build and expand your connections.
This resource guide is specifically designed to help you start to navigate your way through the career development process. You will find information about networking, U.S. résumé styles, interviews, and other helpful resources.
We hope that this guide will serve as a handy resource for you but that you will also make the most of the CDO’s resources, events, and career advising services.
We look forward to supporting you on your career journey!
The Career Development Office Team
International Students Guide
Job Search Tips for International Students
- Start your job search early.
While this is great advice for any student, it is especially crucial for students from outside of the U.S. It usually takes longer to find a job with an employer who sponsors employees requiring work visas. So, the sooner you start your job search, the better chance you will have! Be sure to work with a CDO advisor as you start your exploration – you can make an appointment through Handshake!
- Educate yourself on your visa status and regulations.
Take it upon yourself to become an expert on your visa situation. The more you personally know about visas, work permits, deadlines, academic requirements, the better decisions you will be able to make and the more empowered you will feel. Yes, this is a lot of work, but it is more than worth it. Make sure to connect with Pomona International Student Advisor, Kathy Quispe – she is the visa, CPT/OPT expert at Pomona. She is available to meet with you and advise you on your situation.
- Strengthen communication skills.
Communication skills play a crucial role in your job search as well as in your future work. Use every possible opportunity to strengthen your skills and practice communicating your academic background and qualifications.
- Network, network, and network!
Networking is an integral part of any job or internship search. Start with your peers at Pomona College and other Claremont colleges, as well as faculty, staff, and alumni. Connect with international alumni who secured positions in the U.S. and ask for their advice and suggestions. Attend networking workshops and recruiting events through Handshake and work with a CDO Advisor to hone your networking skills and strategy.
- Think about your unique assets.
Your international status may present some hurdles in your job or internship search but remember the assets it brings to you as well. Your language skills, cross-cultural experience, knowledge of international business practices and a global perspective are all extremely valuable in today’s workplace. Think about how you may present your unique assets to potential employers.
- Engage with the CDO.
Remember, we are always here for you, even after your graduation. Please visit the CDO website and Handshake for resources and meet with a CDO Advisor to assist with your process!
The U.S. résumé is a concise marketing tool summarizing your jobs, skills, accomplishments, and relevant academic background. You may be more familiar with calling this document a Curriculum Vitae (CV). Your résumé is your major job search tool and should always be kept up to date. Consider preparing two or three versions for the multiple industries that interest you, and you can always tailor them more according to the job description of the positions which you apply. General résumé and cover letter tips are available online at the CDO website and in the CDO Resource Guide. In addition, please work with the CDO Advisors for résumé reviews or to start or revise your CV/Résumé.
Here are some specific résumé tips for international students:
- The length of the résumé is limited to 1-2 pages maximum.
- Include your language skills on the résumé. For example: Native speaker of Mandarin and proficient in Spanish.
- Include your international/cross-cultural experience. Examples might be your use of language skills for projects, how your knowledge of international business practices contributed to a team, or how your unique global perspective helped shape an initiative.
- Do not include your age/birth date, marital status, race, religion, or visa status.
- Do not include your photograph on the résumé.
In the U.S., a cover letter or letter of interest should always accompany each résumé and/or application. It is considered an essential part of the job search process. This letter introduces you and your résumé, explaining both your reasons for writing and your qualifications for the position. The cover letter should be typed in business format and printed on the same color and quality of paper as your résumé.
Cover Letter Guidelines
- Always Target Your Message
A cover letter that shows how your skills and experience relate to the specific position is more effective than a generic “all-purpose” cover letter.
- Highlight Your Accomplishments with Measurable Results
Show how your credentials match the requirements of the job. Incorporate information that reflects your knowledge of the organization, its industry and relevant issues. This is the perfect place to “editorialize” about the accomplishments cited in your résumé.
- Show What You Have to Offer
Make sure you demonstrate how your skills, expertise and past accomplishments can benefit the employer. This is your opportunity to make yourself more attractive to the employer by showing that you have something the employer can use. The cover letter is not the place to be self-serving.
- Use Standard Business Protocol
Write clearly and concisely and check your letter for spelling and grammar. Employers have disqualified good candidates because the résumé was poorly constructed. Select white or a light-colored paper that matches your résumé and envelope.
- Send Your Letter to a Specific Person
Identify the person who is likely to make the hiring decisions. It may require resourcefulness and tenacity, but the benefits will outweigh the time and effort. You may need to make several phone calls to learn the contact’s name, correct spelling, and title.
Interviewing is a skill that you will develop over time and requires preparation and practice. This is your chance to have a conversation with the interviewer and make connections with them. Most importantly, it is a great opportunity to convince the employer that you are the ideal candidate for the position. Please visit the CDO website and Handshake for resources about excelling at interviews. You can also make an appointment with our career advisors to set up a practice interview and further hone your skills.
Here are some additional interview tips for international students.
- Legal and Illegal Interview Questions
An employer SHOULD NOT ask:
What is your visa type, nationality, place of birth? Or, of which country are you a citizen?
What is your native language? What language do you most often speak?
An employer MAY ask:
Are you legally authorized to work in the United States? (p.s. the answer is yes!)
Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for an employment visa?
Which languages do you read, speak, or write? (Provided that foreign language skills are job related).
- Discussing Your Visa Status in the Hiring Process
While there is no set rule on when to disclose your international status, the best way to approach this is to assess how much the employer values you as a candidate. Usually, we recommend that you not bring this issue up during the first interview, but on the other hand, you should not wait until you receive the offer from the potential employer.
Be knowledgeable about the visa process in case you need to educate the employer about what is involved. For assistance, talk with Kathy Quispe in International Student Services. If asked about your work authorization situation, you can start by explaining that you have the legal right to work in the U.S. for twelve months (after you have authorized OPT, or at least you have a confirmation with receipt number), which requires absolutely no work on their part. Then share that your work authorization can be extended for another 24 months (if applicable) and renewed for another three to six more years with an H-1B work visa. Avoid saying the word "sponsor" when talking about the H-1B application process, instead use the phrase "petition." If your employer wants to know about hiring you as an international student, you can share the Information for Employers section on the International Student Services website.
- What is Networking?
Fundamentally, networking is having a career conversation with someone for the purpose of exploring careers or job/internship search. That someone can be a friend of a friend, classmate, professor, a professional or alum working in a company of interest, or even a fellow passenger on a plane. Networking takes place in a variety of settings: one-on-one coffee chats, conferences, large events, professional association seminars, etc. Having these conversations may not be natural for everyone, so the more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with it.
- Why is Networking so Important?
Data consistently shows that over 80% of hires come through networking – which means that the larger and stronger your connections in the field, the better chance you will have of securing your desired opportunity.! By building your network of professionals, you begin to gain access to the hidden job market. In addition, finding out about opportunities through your network means you are accessing positions before the general public, which may give you great advantages. Networking is also a great way for professionals to share ideas and expand knowledge.
- How Do I Network?
Initiating career-related conversations or just simply chatting with people around you can be a great way to get started. Throw yourself into campus life and activities that interest you. If there are organizations on campus related to your major, become involved as soon as possible to build networking contacts and references.
Take advantage of all networking opportunities, including those provided by professional organizations, social networking, and the college. Attend company information sessions or career fairs on campus or virtually to talk with recruiters. Networking may seem unnatural initially. This is normal, and many people feel the same way. Get out of your comfort zone and try. The more you practice, the more confident and natural you will feel about reaching out and talking with people. For help getting started, set up an appointment with a CDO Advisor to discuss your networking skills and strategy.
- Networking Resources
- LinkedIn is a valuable resource for your job or internship search, especially for growing and maintaining your network. Check out the LinkedIn Tips on the CDO page and talk with a CDO Advisor to learn how you can maximize LinkedIn resources for your career needs.
- Sagehen Connect and SagePost 47 are resources that current students with alumni mentors. Students can search alumni by major, industry, or by area of interest.
- Candid Career is a fun and efficient way to explore careers! Similar in nature to YouTube, learn from the experiences of Pomona College alumni and other professionals in a variety of fields.
- Pomona College Career Connections Group on LinkedIn is a networking forum managed by the CDO. It aims to help students to connect with the broader Pomona College community including alumni, faculty, parents, and other friends of the college.
- Informational Interviewing is a great way to network with people who work in the fields that you are interested. Through these conversations, you can learn about different career path and what the day-to-day work looks like. Visit the CDO website for some informational interviewing tips.
- International Student Mentoring Program (ISMP) is a student-led mentoring program that pairs new international students with returning international students. ISMP helps new students adjust to life in the United States and provides a supportive community.
Researching Organizations that Hire International Students
One of the best ways to find companies that hire international students is to talk to other international students and alumni, since companies who have hired international students in the past are likely to continue to do so. Establish relationships, and then grow them in a targeted manner. You can also do some research online and look for organizations that have hired international workers in the past. These are just some of the resources to help find and research companies, target a search or focus your networking.
- Going Global (Pomona subscription access through Handshake – free to Sagehens)
Going Global has approximately 500,000 records of companies that have applied for H1B visas. Look up these companies by industry, job title, state and/or city.
- Interstride (Pomona subscription access through Handshake – free to Sagehens)
Interstride is a platform where international students can see open positions that comply with H1B Visa and Green Cards, access professional development resources, view international job postings, attend webinars, and take a Career Game Plan Assessment to see the probability of finding a U.S. job based on their education and experience.
- My Visa Jobs
Find the top 100 employers who offer visa sponsorship. Check out the top 100 industries that have international workers in the United States, as well as the top 100 green card sponsors.
E-Verify is an online program run by the U.S. government that is used mostly by employers to check employee records and eligibility. Search for employers that provide work authorization and sponsorship.
- H1 Base
H1B provides useful Visa information, and also includes a job search tool.
- iStudent City
iStudent City provides helpful tips for job searching after graduation, in addition to an online chat feature that allows students to chat with other international students.
- Career Forum
Career Forum organizes Japanese/English career fairs and forums in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, London, Sydney, and Tokyo.
- Career Nation
Career Nation connects executives and professionals from Africa and within the United States at their yearly Africa Diversity Career Expo.
International Student Services
The Pomona College International Student Services Office is here to assist and advise you on matters relating to your visa and your immigration status and benefits while enrolled in your academic program. For questions regarding your international student status, your eligibility to work, or applying for CPT/OPT, please contact Kathy Quispe, Pomona’s International Student Advisor.
Assistant Director, International Student & Scholar Service
email@example.com (909) 607-2313
For more information about services and support for international students, please check out the International Student Services website.