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Asked by Cameron on October 12, 2016

I am international student graduating December 2016. I am receiving a Bachelors in Finance. I am currently applying for OPT (a year one program allowing employment for international students). How can I go about the process of job searching and landing a job, while also probably needing to take a year off for the OPT program?

Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on October 19, 2016

Congrats on your upcoming graduation! Your first step as an international student looking to work - whether through OPT or other options - is to get in touch with your career services office for foreign students and learn what resources are available for your situation. You don’t mention current work authorization, and typically OPT is sought by F-1 students seeking authorization to work in an off-campus job in the U.S. A foreign student career advisor will help you get the right information for your situation before you actually start your job search, and in many cases, you’ll be required to process any kind of work authorization through their office. Be certain to ask about job opportunities or other job resources while you’re there since they’ll have a few options to get you going.

Once you chat with an international student advisor, you’ll need to start the job search process like any other job seeker. Compile your education, work, and other related experience into a resume and get yourself organized to start applying. When ready, start beating the pavement - and the internet - for leads. Network with potential employers at career fairs, campus events, and through your international student career services office. Also do online searches that include terms like “OPT jobs” to find job boards and resources designed with OPT candidates in mind. If you have another form of work authorization, include those terms in your search to find the roles that are right for you.

You mention taking a year off to complete OPT. I would highly recommend you speak with an advisor and consider applying to OPT now so you can start seeking work that fulfills your OPT as soon as you graduate. You’ll be much better served finding an employer that’s willing to work with you rather than work around you. Either way, be clear about your work authorization status and future plans when speaking with employers to avoid challenges and wasted time for both you and potential employers.

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