A Chinese Student’s Story of Job-Hunting in the US

For international students, the job-hunting process is never easy. Even once you’ve figured out the U.S. application standards well enough to land an internship, it does not mean a full-time job is guaranteed – you have to find a company willing to sponsor your work visa (H-1B). A lot of Americans find their full-time jobs as a result of their internships, but for international students it’s much more complicated.

International students who want to stay in the US after completing their education have to find a job – or at least an internship – within three months after their graduation in order to obtain Optional Practical Training (OPT) status, which allows them to stay for another year legally (or up to 29 months for certain science and technology students). By the day that OPT expires, if they are still not able to find an employer to sponsor their working visa, they have to leave the United States.

Wanqing Luo, a senior student at Syracuse University from China, is moving to New York City in May 2012 for a post-graduation internship. Even though Wanqing is still uncertain if her summer internship could help her to land a job, she is excited about moving to NYC, and says she will keep trying and never give up. In the video below, Wanqing shares her internship-hunting story with us.

19 comments

  1. The entire intent of the student visa was for foreign students to avail themselves of an excellent American education, then go home to build up their own countries, not for them to stay here and compete with American grads for scarce job openings.

    Foreign students owe this much to their home countries. There is no right to a job or immigration here. Their home countries certainly would not return the favor to American students.

    The notion that foreign students should just be able to walk into the American job market on the same basis as American students, when our national unemployment and underemployment rates are as high as they are is beyond absurdity.

    1. Hi Dolores,

      Thanks for your comment. Instead of saying “there is no right to a job or immigration here”, I believe that it’s international students’ personal choice to decide whether to stay in the US or go back to their home countries. Many students go back after getting several years’ working experiences and they think in that way could they help to build up their countries better. Meanwhile, immigrants help to boost the US economy and bring diversity here. I think that’s the true beauty of this country.

    2. No that’s not technically accurate. As mentioned in the article there are work allowances built into student visas. For F-1 visa holders (these are self-supporting students) depending on the program length and requirements there are up to two year long work periods. Everyone is eligible for OPT – mentioned in the article – which is generally for a year post graduation. Certain programs (like mine) have another year long allowance prior to graduation called curricular practical training (CPT.) I’m applying to internships in my area now for graduation requirements and it doesn’t make sense to not make use of my school’s network for this part even if I do plan to go home.
      – an international student studying International Education, focusing on International Student Services

    3. QIAN- The U.S. goverment ain’t going to cater to non-citizens even if you have a good education just like the Chinese ain’t going to give their jobs to non-Chinese citizens. It’s the law. Go take your list of complains to the U.S. goverment it’s not the employers fault.

      Why won’t you accept a job in China? Like blue-collar jobs? I’m sure there are plenty of job oppurtunies for you in that field. I know the blue-collar job is not-good-enough for a graduate student but it’s better than being unemployed right? Or perhaps you can work as a professor Assistant at your college? Good luck.

    4. MY only argument in this case is why allow other visa programs such as the Diversity Visa Lottery program that allows “not qualified” people to enter as well. MAny countries are not eligible for this program such as UK, China, India, Canada etc. IF citizens of these countries want to experience US for sometime, student visa is the only option. What’s wrong here, after all every single person who is born in the US has been part of some other country. There is no “pure” US national as we have French nationals or British nationals etc. See the point?

  2. The cause of high national unemployment is not
    an excess of foreign students taking jobs . Rather we should focus on the economic causes. Where were you when they passed the Free Trade Acts that took our jobs away? Why are iphones manufactured in China? Who are the leaders that allow this to happen?
    Who are the bankers that manipulate derivatives for their own profit that caused much of our current problems?

    1. it’s ture that Ipones are manufactured in china but the chinese workers and foxcon only get the 6% money from each iphone ,Aapples get the most profit about 80%. also do you think amricans would come back to the boring assembly line? for another thing ,if chinese don’t take the boring manufacturing work from amricans ,other countries like sounthest asian conuntries or india will take it in the same way.

  3. Dolores,

    American altruism is alive! When MIT sponsors me on a research assistantship to get an MS in Mechanical Engineering, it costs the school roughly $100k over 2 years when you add in the cost of courses and a monthly stipend for 20 hours of research work/week.

    This $100k usually comes from the NSF or other such agencies that review research proposals and grant funds. Funds that could have gone onto sponsor an American college graduate for a job for a year.

    Your proposal, as I understand, is to let me consume the $100k and go back and leverage the intellectual property I acquired at MIT in India and potentially contribute in ways that will either build companies that compete with the US or that attract talent to come work for my team instead of going to work for a different company in the US.

    Who said the US was about savvy capitalism and gumption? It’s really about enriching the world with mushy humanism.

  4. The only country on earth that punishes its own citizens for creating a booming new industry cannot survive if this behavior keeps up. Americans who created IT are sitting around by the millions unemployed while job begging students like this loser from China can walk in here and just take any job. Where is the justice for US CITIZENS. Every other country on earth protects it OWN CITIZENS. I saw the premiere of China on TV the other night saying the new goal was not growth, but rather “to improve the living standards of the average Chinese”. When was the last time you heard anyone in Washinton DC say “Our goal is to improve the living standards of the average American”? We need to get the jealous delusionals out of office and get some people in who REPRESENT THE US CITIZENS. Either that or it’s time to move to another country and screw this pile of garbage sack of crap called the US.

    1. HA,HA,HA
      I’m a guy from China and I can actually answer why you can see a Chinese leader on the air to say”to improve the living standards of the average Chinese”. He said this because most of the Chinese are still struggle on the basic requirement that almost every US CITIZEN already got.

      You won’t like to know about how poor Chinese children climb 10 miles of mountains just to get their daily school and you won’t like to know how Chinese children live in Shan’Xi who go 20miles away just to bring the water they drink for next month.Yes you also won’t like to know how Chinese got captured, tortured and killed overseas and our government just sit there and say some bullshit like “We strong condemn the injustice action of XXXXX and asked immediate action of the XXXX government to …….. ”
      But you guys got the most military on the earth and airbase, fighter planes all over the world, ready to claim the right of a US CITIZEN

      For us, the US CITIZEN is someone who’s born with a silver spoon. Talk with any Chinese first generation immigrants and let them tell you how they survive to get a green card.

      If you’re pissed when more and more job opportunities is taken away by what you mean,”Chinese Losers”. Well, I’m quite sorry but being a US citizen does not guarantee that you can earn more than any aliens in the US. And if you’re pissed when you heard that all I-phone are manufactured in China, I’m very glad to talk about how many over-stressed staffs of Foxconn find their peace from a sucide.

      I heard many times that an american says how significant the free market and open competition is to the entire nation. But I guess these things are only significant when all the profits of him could be protected, not when his job is taken away by a Asian employee who only ask 1/3 of his salary,eh?

  5. I hope all students talk to their International Student Advisor about what kinds of “work” qualify as employment for OPT.

    It’s more flexible than it seems. For example, students can also start their own business as long as they get all required licenses and the business is related to their major. The work they do for their own company counts, and they don’t have to worry about having to leave because they are “unemployed.”

    Students can also do legitimate volunteer work for community groups and charities — this can count for OPT employment.

    These kinds of OPT work may not create a relationship between a company and the student that leads to H-1B sponsorship, but they are experiences that can help broaden the student’s skills — and that’s what OPT is really for!

    See http://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/opt_policy_guidance_042010.pdf for more information from the government about what types of employment people can do while on OPT.

  6. Well,most Chinese students won’t be willing to get back home is because they want better life quality in USA.

    First,let’s do some math.

    Most graduates in China earn about 3000 RMB a month for the fisrt year BEFORE tax ,that’s about 500dollars. And around the year that will be 6000 dollars.While an IPHONE4S cost about 800dollars in China with the tariff charged. I don’t think Americans can imagine a mobile phone could cost as much as 1/7 salary for the whole year!

    Second,people without good backgrounds here are hard to survive.People who don’t have a house in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai are hard to survive.If u r from a small city and want a better life in a big city,while u r talented but don’t have any relatives who work in government or have a large fortune. I would say it’s really hard. A 100m² apartment could averagely cost 1,000,000dollars in Shanghai in the city center,and cost 500,000dollars in the surberbs. Given the number that u earned every year,maybe buying a lottery ticket is a better choice.

    So, in one word ,how hard u work doesn’t equal to how good your life quality would be ,but in USA,this equation is valid.

  7. Dear Dolores and H1b haters,

    So you want the foreign graduates to head back once they complete their degrees just so that the job market is always available for citizens and there is no competition?

    Ok a few things here. Lets start with the phrase “Land of opportunity”, what opportunity are you referring to? Did it originally meant to say “Land of opportunity for Americans Only”?

    Second, bringing up H1b in my view is as bad as racism. DO you know that International students spend twice as much on tution as citizens? (I.e. 8k-10k tution only per semester + other living expenses). After spending around $80,000 just for a Bachelors degree, do you really feel they should head back? For all you know, they would have to work 10+ years just to start getting a return on that investment. So much for equality that is always celebrated in U.S.

    Third, just to polish up on your history, this country was built by immigrants and today it stands a super power because of their significant contribution. After WW2, both Russia and U.S. were all over German scientists offering them attractive wages and a better life style. Still think immigrants/ internationals have only caused you harm?

    Forth, I can hardly believe you have the nerve to say “they have no right to stay/ work in US”. One doesn’t even need to comment on that.

    Fifth, these H1b visas were not made into law and policy by a mad scientist in his lab but your own people who know what U.S. needs to maintain its technological superiority over other nations. I.e hiring the brightest minds from all over the world especially STEM graduates. You know, I know and they know that most American students run away at the sight of math and science.

    Sixth, just to let you know, the tables are turning. India, China, and union of smaller countries are rapidly becoming self sufficient and expanding their technological reach/ services at lower prices to other nations which clearly puts U.S. at a loss.

    It wont be long when you actually start seeing US citizens applying for jobs outside. I’d love to see you in that situation and remind you of the nonsense you have spewed recklessly here.

    In the very end I just have one question for you, what was the great deed you accomplished before birth that now you are seen as a superior citizen than everyone else? Have you ever put your self in the shoes of the International student who is away from his family and friends for at least 4 years? more if he goes for masters or PhD? Looking forward to hearing your opinions and please make them reasonable and non-racist.

  8. If you want jobs, get capable & competitive, don’t expect national boundaries to protect you. You’ll lose to China, India, Philippines, Brazil and South Africa because they are better, they make things better for you-if it weren’t for China you’d not have had half your gadgets in your home; they made it affordable for average middle-class Americans. The American corporations wouldn’t be what they are without those markets and you’d be buying a $2500 iPhone manufactured in the Midwest. And pay 5% as service charges every time you used the back office of your bank or swiped your card.

    This is a global world, so wake up and get competitive personally if you want a job or to create wealth.

  9. This is why we dont need infinite amounts of iphones, cheap clothes, and meaningless gadgets and materialism. We need a sustainable system that is accountable to its citizens. We as a society must discuss how this is to be implemented and how the current system can be streamlined and brought into a greater level of ethics. The government should not be deciding this. We are the ones who must live out the results of those decisions.

  10. I am a Chinese. All I want to say is that if a U.S citizen can’t even compete with an Alien. I feel sorry for him/her.

    So don’t complain we Alien grabbing jobs from you. Plz think about what’s ur problem.

  11. Wow….these comments are so racist. ..I guess internet does bring the worst out of people.

    Just want to remind those who think they should decide whether aliens should be in this country: It is actually Native Americans who owned this land. They gave you turkey and you take their lives. At least we are here to work hard and give back. What have you done other than being sour on Native Americans having licenses to open Casinos and getting “free money”on their own land and being racist to every international who want to come to this country and live a better life with their hard work?

    Stopping taking credits from the founding fathers and whine about aliens taking your job! Study hard, work hard and if you still cannot get a job then don’t blame it on others!

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