International Student Career Advice

At NCA, we recognize that international students have unique employment needs and often have extra steps to pursuing work off-campus. If you are a Northwestern University international student and will be pursuing employment in the U.S. before or upon graduation, NCA staff can assist you through individual appointments and our resources provided.

Exploring Career Choices

NCA offers one-on-one career counseling to all international students who may be undecided on their career choice. Within your appointment with a career counselor you will be able to process what your interests, values and skills are and how those attributes relate to a satisfying career or occupation.

International students need to consider researching the reality of their career choice as it relates to allowing them to remain in the U.S. for employment. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are careers which create a greater likelihood of being employed in the U.S. and gaining sponsorship for a H1B Visa. Often those careers are within STEM careers or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. This is due to a shortage in domestic talent existing in those types of careers, therefore justifying the hiring of international talent.

As an international student, there are advantages to participating in campus interviewing. You possess a global perspective, understand cultural differences, and are able to adapt quickly to new situations and settings.

Interviewing With a U.S. Company

  • Be punctual. Arrive 5-15 minutes early.
  • Expect direct questions regarding competency and experience. An open discussion of accomplishments and skills shows confidence.
  • Show clear self-knowledge, career goals, and long-term plans. Self-disclosure of strengths, weaknesses, personality, leadership style, problem-solving abilities, etc. may be appropriate.
  • Researching the organization and demonstrating that knowledge during the interview is expected - shows initiative and interest.
  • It is acceptable to ask an employer at the close of the interview where they are in the interview process and when the candidate can expect to hear back from them; inquiring about the status of an application after the interview is acceptable and demonstrates interest in the position.
  • Display initiative by volunteering information and asking questions even before you are asked to.

Interview Tips for International Students

  • Study commonly asked interview questions; write answers to those questions; and practice your responses in front of a mirror as well as with friends.
  • Schedule a mock interview with NCA to receive feedback on the interview.
  • Be prepared with questions to ask the employer. The interview should be just as much a time for you to decide if this is where you want to work as it is a time for the employer to know if you are right for their organization.

International Student Resources

  • Going Global - Contains a database of organizations who have applied to H-1B Visas and other resources including U.S. City Guides and International Country Guides.
  • - Offers information on obtaining a U.S. Work Visa.
  • - Contains a database of American firms, all over the U.S., in all disciplines, who have known openings, are willing to, and actually offered H-1B jobs to international professionals. There is a fee to gain access to the database.
  • - Started by a group of international students living in New York City with the goal of helping other students deal with American immigration authorities and education system.
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Information on Optional Practical Training (OPT)
  • U.S. Department of Labor's Certification Data Disclosure (click on FLC Case Data)- This site will help you find out which companies applied for H-1B visas for one or more new employees in the past few years. This will give you some ideas of employers open to having international employees working for them. Please note that you can search by year, employer and/or state.
  • LockIn China - this company assists Chinese students, who are studying at U.S. colleges and universities, to find and apply for jobs in China.

International Office - Northwestern University

The International Office (IO) offers Northwestern's international students and scholars professional support, advising services, and programming regarding immigration. Below that bullet in a sub-bullet, could we have the following:

  • The International Office can support and advise students on visas including CPT and OPT