International Students

In order to be competitive in the US job market, you will need a diverse set of skills and competencies. While technical knowledge and industry-specific skills are important and highly valued, employers also highly value candidates who have strong communication and critical thinking skills, are able to work on a team, have a developed sense of self, and demonstrate social responsibility. It is important that you spend your time at UF getting involved in experiences that will help you develop both technical knowledge and the necessary soft skills, or competencies, to be a competitive candidate.

Class projects and academic research are ways to develop industry and technical knowledge. However, interning at a company in your field, working part-time, or volunteering are ways to build a diversified skills set of industry knowledge and common competencies. While it can be challenging as an international student to find employment opportunities, getting involved on campus is another way to gain more experiences with the competencies. Be sure to get involved in a variety of ways during your time here at UF.

More Information

Part Time Jobs

Typically, students on an F-1 Visa are only permitted to work on campus for up to 20 hours per week in non-federal work study positions. Many international students work in offices across campus, in teaching or research assistant positions, or have other assistantships on campus.

If you’re interested in working on campus, the best place to start is on Careers at UF. You can filter by student positions to find a position that’s right for you. In addition, the Career Resource Center hosts a Part Time Job Fair each fall, where various offices who are hiring students will have a table and answer questions. This is a great way to network and make an early connection.

If you’re interested in working off campus, there are different requirements and procedures to follow. Please visit International Student Services to learn about the requirements for obtaining the proper work authorization.

Internships, Externships, and Co-ops

Many students seek out internships, externships, or co-ops to gain practical skills and training while also building other competencies necessary in today’s workplace. These experiences are also great ways to begin building your network in your field or industry.

Before beginning your search for an internship, there are some additional steps to take in order to legally work as an intern. Visit International Student Services to learn about the process for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Then, consider the following steps below:

  • Search for employers who are hiring international students in Gator Career Link. You can introduce yourself to them at Career Showcase, attend their information session to network, or interview with them on campus. Employers who are open to hiring international students will have work authorization requirements that say the following:
    • Currently authorized to work in the US but will need sponsorship in the future.
    • Not currently authorized in the US and will need immediate sponsorship.
  • Explore the Career Roadmaps for industry specific strategies and resources.
  • Network with international students who have successfully completed an internship in the US. Look for people in your program, on LinkedIn, or your community. Ask questions about helpful strategies, what their experience was like, and advice they might have. Set up an informational interview to hear about their experience.
  • Explore professional associations related to your field. There are often job and internship boards, mentoring and/or networking opportunities, and specialized career advice for your field of study.
  • Visit the Prepare for Your Search page for internship searching strategies.

In order to apply for a Social Security number to work off campus, you will need an offer letter on official employer letterhead, signed and dated by your supervisor, with the following items:

  • Current date
  • Given and family surname
  • Your job title
  • Employment start date
  • Number of hours you are expected to work per week
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Supervisor’s telephone number

Be sure to consult with your International Student Advisor for more details and information!

Job Search

International students bring a diverse set of skills into US work environments, and there are many benefits for employers who hire international students. Multicultural perspectives, language skills, and adaptability to work environments are skills that US employers often desire that international students can provide.

If you are hoping to continue to live and work in the US, there are some additional legal steps that you must take. First, you should consult with your advisor in International Student Services to discuss your options regarding Optional Practical Training (OPT). Next, visit the Prepare for Your Search page to learn about common job searching strategies. Then, consider the follow job searching strategies below specific to international students.

Search for employers who are hiring international students in Gator CareerLink. You can introduce yourself to them at Career Showcase, attend their information session to network, or interview with them on campus. Employers who are open to hiring international students will have work authorization requirements that say the following:

  • Currently authorized to work in the US but will need sponsorship in the future.
  • Not currently authorized in the US and will need immediate sponsorship.

Target your search to companies with a history of hiring international students. By researching and applying to major companies who have hired international students and/or have provided sponsorship, you are maximizing your chances of finding employment. Use the resources below to research US companies that have hired international students in the past.

Focus your search on companies that have international initiatives. They will be more likely to value the unique skills that you bring to the company. Use MyWorldAbroad, in Gator CareerLink, to search through hundreds of databases of employers with international initiatives. Research the mission statements and important initiatives of companies to:

  • Look for US Companies doing business in your home country. Your degree from a US college combined with your language skills will be an asset, and there may be opportunities to transfer back to the US. Use the following resources to look for opportunities:
    1. MyWorldAbroad, (for full access, use Gator Career Link), to access hundreds of databases with international positions or to research companies who do business in your country. You can also use this site if you are interested in job searching in another country other than the US.
    2. Going Global provides country career guides, job and internship listings, and H1B information.
    3. Uniworld lets you search by US companies operating in foreign countries and/or for foreign companies operating in the US.
    4. US Chambers of Commerce in your home country to learn about which US companies are doing business in your country. For example: American Chamber in Hong Kong
  • Network with international students who have successfully completed a job search in the US. Ask questions about helpful strategies, what their experience was like, and advice they might have.
  • Explore professional associations related to your field. There are often job and internship boards, mentoring and/or networking opportunities, and specialized career advice for your field of study.
  • Visit the Prepare for Your Search page for internship searching strategies.

The Career Resource Center holds several workshops each semester related to job searching as an international student. Individual appointments are also available to discuss your job search. Log in to Gator CareerLink to view the calendar of events or schedule a career planning appointment.

Employer Expectations

US Employers have certain expectations of all candidates in the job and internship search process that may or may not be different than your home country.

Individual Responsibility:

Employers expect you take control of your job search. This means that you must put in the effort of writing a strong resume, practice interviewing, and maintaining communication. This also means that you must do the appropriate research regarding your visa status and needs. Not every employer has hired an international student before, and so you must be able to educate them on the process.

Fitting with the Organization:

Employers aren’t just looking for someone with the technical skills and background; they are also looking for someone who will “fit” with the rest of the team and the values of the organization. It is important to demonstrate to an employer what technical background AND personal qualities will make you fit in with the job description.

Direct Communication Style:

Conversations with employers are often direct and to the point, because recruiters are often trying to meet many candidates in a short amount of time. You can help your communication style to be more direct by maintaining eye contact, practicing your 30 second elevator speech, and provide comprehensive yet concise answers.

Individual Equity:

 US employers are committed to providing an equitable hiring environment. To achieve this equity, personal demographic information including age, race/ethnicity, gender, marital status, or country of national origin is illegal to discuss at any stage of the process. However, employers are permitted to ask if you are authorized to work in the US.

Punctuality and Organization:

Employers expect prompt responses and organized materials in your application. You should plan to respond to communication with employers as soon as possible, preferable within 24-48 hours.

Career Self-Awareness:

US employers will expect you to have a strong sense of self regarding your career. You should be prepared to talk about your strengths, weaknesses, personal working style, and goals as they relate to your career. These topics might seem personal, but will help the employer to decide if you are a good fit or not.

Self-Promotion:

While it may feel difficult or uncomfortable to promote yourself, it is an expectation that you “sell” yourself to the employer. You will be expected to talk about your successes, positive attributes, and how you will benefit the company.

Transitional Resources

Coming to a new country can be challenging to figure out cultural norms, expectations, and needs. Explore these resources below to find support from the greater international student community.

On Campus Resources

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