If you are an international student studying in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia or any other country, this may not be an exciting time for you. For any international student graduating in 2020 or 2021, one thing is sure that the job opportunities will be very limited. You may have to struggle a lot to find a job, even if you are a graduate from a top engineering or business school, and irrespective of the college major. So, what should you do as an international student during these trying and uncertain times?
None of us know how long this coronavirus epidemic will last and when will the recovery start, how strong the recovery will be and how easy it will be for the upcoming graduating class of 2020 or class of 2021 to find a job. Thousands of companies, small and large, have already furloughed tens of millions of employees and have stopped hiring for the next few months. Recessions always present a tough time for job seekers, especially for international students.
My Experiences of Going Through Two Recessions as Recent Foreign Graduate
I was a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin (aka UT Austin) when the recession of 1992 happened. A few years later, I was a fresh MBA graduate from Harvard, working for a software startup in 2000 when the dot come bubble hit silicon valley, followed by the crisis of 9/11.
During both these recessions, I saw the first-hand number of friends, especially international students in the USA, struggling to find jobs. However, most of them, if not all, survived and even have thrived over the last 20-25 years in the US.
So, what did many of these students do to survive the recession and bounce back to success once the crisis subsided and the companies started hiring workers again?
Job Tips for International Students During & Post-Coronavirus Pandemic
Here are three things International students can start thinking about now:
Consider extending your graduating dates
If you are an undergraduate or graduate, including Ph.D, student ready for graduation in 2020, see if you can extend your graduation timeline by taking additional courses in your area of specialization or doing research under a professor.
This definitely will have an impact on your total cost of education but try to negate it by taking an on-campus part-time job to support yourself. Many of my friends did this in 1992 by continuing to stay enrolled in their graduate and undergraduate programs until the job market started picking up in early 1993.
Apply for higher studies (advanced/specialized degree program)
If you ever had an interest in going for the next level of studies, this may be the right time for you to apply for graduate programs or Ph.D program and spend the next 2-3 years to complete it. How fast the world economy recovers, there will be a lag time from the recovery to when the companies start hiring again.
The first step companies will take is getting comfortable the recovery is for real and would like to wait until the next flu season. The second step they will take is by hiring back furloughed workers before they start hiring new employees. Finally, many domestic students and laid-off workers will get the priority before any company hires an international student and thinks about applying for their employment visa, etc.
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As you look at applying for these graduate and Ph.D. programs, reach out to the professors you may know, have worked with and see if you can get an assistantship, part-time job, etc. Being proactive in this approach will help you land some financial help before they give it to the incoming students for 2020.
Look at job options at your university
The universities may also face some tough time next year as the enrollment of international students take a hit and many states face an uphill task of balancing the budget. However, universities will still face a better environment in terms of staffing, hiring compared to the private sector.
If you are an international student, find out if you can get a job on-campus at a lab, department, or other services. These jobs may not be as lucrative as a job at Facebook, Google, Amazon but may help you stay in the country, continue to learn, and get paid while you continue to see how the economies around the world fare and cope with this pandemic.
The next 12-24 months would be challenging for all of us. But, a lot more for international students who are close to graduation. Don’t let this crisis bring you down, stay positive, and keep thinking about how you can make the best from this situation and keep adjusting to the highly fluid and changing situation.
If you need guidance, help and want to speak to anyone to discuss what to do, please remember our Stoodnt team is just a phone (or Skype/WhatsApp) call away.
Good luck, stay safe and stay strong!
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