It is typically hard for international students to crack the cultural ceiling of America.
Jennifer Kist, the Pitt-Johnstown Director of Scholarships and High School Outreach Programs, said that employment options for international students are restrictive so it is essential that specific procedures are followed to ensure legal status is maintained.
Kist is a former Director of International Services.
There are typically three options for international students who want to become employees. “The first is when students are in their first two semesters of undergraduate studies,” the Director of international recruitment Chen Sui said.
However, students could not work more than 20 hours per week.
Second is a federal Curricular Practical Training (program).
“It is typically completed while students are currently enrolled in undergraduate studies. It is much like an internship, so employment must be directly related to the students’ field of study,” Kist said.
Moreover, the experience may be paid or unpaid. Interested students must contact Kist before they begin applying for the curricular training, since authorization is required prior to the first day of work.
Another kind of employment opportunity is through a Federal Optional Practical Training progam, which is mostly pursued upon graduation. It is for temporary employment up to 12 months and must correspond with a degree earned.
“Students then need to complete a series of on-line steps at my.ois.pitt.edu. Adviser approval must be granted and the graduation date confirmed,” Kist said.
Students may apply for optional training no later than 60 days beyond graduation.
Pitt-Johnstown graduate Shan Jiameng said she applied for optional training as soon as possible, preferably three months before graduation, she would not have wasted time wondering around the city after she got the job offer.
Approval can take eight weeks or longer. Those who earn degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields may be eligible for an optional training extension beyond the initial 12 months.
However, Lu Jing, a business major senior student, said that she applied for an internship and the only thing she had to do is to submit a resume and go to an interview.
In order to help international students be more informed, Pitt-Johnstown has a new website link under International Admissions where students can search for what they need.
Real World Career Services Office staff offer services to prepare students for exploring major and career options, such as networking with potential employers, and finding a job.
All of these services are available to international students.