Top Ten Career Tips for International Students

TOP 10 Tips:

  1. Find the right organization
  2. Enhance your English language skills
  3. Work with SNRE Career Services
  4. Write a good resume and cover letter
  5. Get good at interviews
  6. Network!
  7. Talk to 2nd year international students and alumnus
  8. Market your skills
  9. Find a mentor
  10. Understand your visa status and employment options

1. Learn which organizations hire international candidates and focus on applying to those organizations.
Don't waste your time applying where you have little to no chance of getting hired.

  • Go to eRecruiter and access Going Global which contains a big list of companies that have hired international students in the past. Network with professionals in these companies and apply for positions.
  • If your goal is to return to your home country eventually, be sure to gain experience with companies that also have offices in your home country.

2. Strong English language skills (both speaking and writing) are critical for international students who wish to work for a U.S.-based company or organization.
Don't wait. Start early and use the U-M resources below.

  • Speaking Clinic--serves nonnative members of U-M's academic community, students, faculty and staff, who want to improve the pronunciation, fluency, and accuracy of their speaking skills.
  • Conversation Circles Program--a small group of non-native speakers of English (up to 6 people) are paired with a native-English-speaking volunteer, for a weekly hour-long conversation practice.
  • Graduate Student Writing Clinic--offers discussion, diagnosis, and guided self-help with writing for U-M students whose first language is not English.
  • Participate in the Global Friendship Program (GFP)--The Ecumenical Center and International Residence (ECIR) pairs International students with local friends from the community (a family, couple or individual) for an academic year. GFP hosts introduce international students and scholar to life in the U.S while the later help hosts learn more about their cultures.
  • Participate in social events. Watch TV, go to a football game, join a club. This will allow you to feel comfortable making small talk  and give you practice speaking English in a less formal setting.

Back to Top

3. Take advantage of SNRE's Career Services but be aware that each student is responsible for finding employment.

  • While SNRE Career Services can assist you with your job search, Placement  isn't customary in the U.S. We don't offer test based placement. Good grades are great, but they won't guarantee you a job. We recommend that all students develop a job search plan.
  • SNRE career staff can provide feedback on resumes and cover letters, do a practice interview with you, provide suggestions on job/internship search strategies, etc.
  • To schedule an appointment, send an email request to:

Back to Top

4. Resume Tips and Cover Letter Tips

  • Use SNRE's Resume Template. U.S. resumes typically do not contain personal information (date of birth, nationality, gender, marriage status, etc.). Be sure to follow the template for formatting and content tips.
  • Use SNRE's Cover Letter Template. Give examples of projects you worked on that highlight the key skills that are required for the job. Emphasize any outcomes/ accomplishments.
  • If an employer might be unfamiliar with an employer or school from your home country, provide additional information. For example: top engineering firm in India 
  • Emphasize your strong English skills whenever possible “ and provide examples, Presented at a national conference for over 1,000 participants in English. 

Back to Top

5. Interview Tips

  • Use our Interviewing Resources
  • Research the organization and individuals that you will be interviewing with before the interview.
  • Be on time! Start and finish interviews with a firm handshake, eye contact and a smile.
  • Show confidence and take credit for your accomplishments. In the U.S., job candidates will give specific examples of what they accomplished and how they did it. When speaking about a group project, point out your specific role/contribution to the task.
  • Be confident! Be able to talk candidly about your career goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc.
  • Set up a mock interview with SNRE Career Services staff to practice before a real interview.
  • Some employers might be concerned that an international graduate may work for them for a few months/years and then move back to their home country. Have a plan to address this issue and express to the employer why you want to work in the U.S.
  • It's okay to ask an employer at the end of an interview when you can expect to hear back and what are the next steps. You can also contact them later to get an update on your status and to reiterate your enthusiasm for the position.
  • Send a thank you note! This is a great way to demonstrate your written English skills.

Back to Top

6. Network! Network! Network!

  • Use our Networking Resources
  • Networking is all about building relationships with people. Making a personal connection with individual staff members can be highly beneficial in your job search.
  • Here's one example of a networking success: an SNRE international student did a company search on LinkedIn and discovered that one of the listed contacts was a U-M alum. The student reached out to the alum and the alum got her an interview for a job with the company and was hired!
  • You can also find friendly alums on the SNRE LinkedIn group.  Be sure to join this group but be very targeted and only reach out to individuals working at organizations of high interest to you.

Back to Top

7. Talk to 2nd year international students and international alums.

  • Get tips on finding and securing internships and jobs. Learn from their direct experiences in finding and applying for jobs.

Back to Top

8. Market Your Skills. Look at your international background as an asset instead of a liability.

  • International students have advantages in recruiting, such as cross-cultural communication skills, global business knowledge, and multiple language fluencies “ skills that companies value.

Back to Top

9. Find a Mentor

  • Connect with alumni who can serve as a mentor, giving you advice and suggestions in your academic program.
  • Learn about how to approach faculty to serve as mentors. The Rackham Graduate School provides information: How to Get the Mentoring You Want: A Guide for Graduate Students

Back to Top

10. Educate yourself on your visa status and understand your employment options.

  • Be able to answer questions about what an employer needs to do to hire you.
  • Be sure to contact the International Center if you have any questions “ they are the experts on campus regarding your visa status. It's your responsibility to know and understand your visa status!

Back to Top