Preparing for Work in the U.S.

Challenges International Students May Face

  • Hiring Complexities: After international students complete the optional one year of practical training, employers must sponsor them to obtain an H1-B or other visas to continue employment.  Hiring an international student is a more complex and often less familiar process to many U.S. employers than hiring an American. Employers may also face limitation due to partnerships with government agencies or funding. Do research on visa sponsorship requirements so you may help educate employers. Also, for advising on how to approach this subject with prospective employers, please meet with an internship or employment specialist at UCS.
  • Commitment: Some employers fear international employees will return to their home country after the employer has invested time and money, hiring, training, and possibly sponsoring the international student.  Show that you are willing and able to be sponsored for a career/lifetime with the company.  Demonstrate how you are an asset to the company's overseas locations and operations.
  • Animosity: Some Americans feel that by hiring an international student they are taking jobs away from United States citizens. Be able to demonstrate how your skills and knowledge will be an asset to the company.  Also, research diversity and its benefits in the workplace, and target companies that have a record of valuing diversity.

How to Dress for Work

The dress code at jobs and internships in the U.S. can be confusing. Ask your supervisor for details on what is appropriate to wear to work. If in doubt here are some tips:

  • First and foremost, no matter what you wear, your clothes should be neat and clean.
  • Keep your shoes in good condition. Your hair should be neatly styled; teeth brushed and wear deodorant. 
  • If you have any visible body parts pierced, most experts recommend removing all jewelry, including earrings. However, one pair of small post, non-dangling earrings is appropriate for women.
  • Nails should be clean, neat and of reasonably short in length.
  • Dress for the job you want. If you aspire to be a manager, dress like the managers in your company.

Recently, in American Work Culture there has been an increase in companies or organizations claiming "Business Casual" as their preferred dress code. To help define what these means please read on:

  • Casual doesn't mean sloppy. Your clothing should still be neat and clean.
  • You can't go wrong with khakis and a sport shirt or a nice sweater.
  • Even if you normally can dress in "Business Casual", if you are going to a meeting or making a presentation, professional attire may be in order. Those are the days you may want to wear a suit.
  • If you wear tailored and conservative outfits Monday through Thursday, Friday isn't the day to show up like you just rolled out of bed. No matter what industry you're in, consistency goes a long way in establishing trust and credibility with all your internal and external contacts.
  • Be sure to check with your HR department or manager with regards to what is appropriate to wear to work.