• “Why won’t career services get out there and bring more companies to campus?”, “Where are the H1B recruiters?”  or “Why doesn’t career services convince more companies to sponsor H1B visas?”  Sound familiar?  International students (particularly international MBA students) around the country ask these questions en masse each year.  They’re all wondering where all the employers are and why career services isn’t providing the jobs they’re expecting.

    Where are the H1b Recruiters?

    Those of us who have worked in career services wonder where international students get these expectations.  Has the admissions office made unrealistic promises in their zeal to fill the year’s class?  Surely former international students have passed word back to their home countries about how challenging a U.S. job search is.  No one knows exactly why, but international students seem to think that career services can turn on a faucet of visa sponsorships, but are inexplicably electing not to.   Not so!

    If you’re an international student wondering why your career services office isn’t doing more for you, here are a few important points to consider:

    1. There are relatively few companies with an established campus recruiting program who openly advertise that they sponsor H1B visas.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a visa.  It just means that you’re not likely to get one through campus recruiting.  You need to begin looking at less familiar companies who don’t have the resources to build a campus recruiting platform.
    2. Although your career services office can be well-versed in the benefits of hiring an H1B employee, there’s little they can do to influence the hiring policies of companies recruiting on campus.  In fact there’s little that their corporate contacts (who are mostly HR people) can do to change policy.
    3. Visas are granted to people who can demonstrate to a company that they offer benefits in excess of their costs (i.e. a visa).  This cost/benefit analysis can only be done at the individual level.  “Here is what you get if you hire Dan Beaudry,” as articulated by Dan Beaudry, “and this is why it’s worth it.”  The cost benefit calculus isn’t nearly as compelling when career services people try to pitch ‘international students’ as a group because it doesn’t comunicate the specific value that would compel a company to sponsor.   Companies don’t hire ‘international students’.  They hire individuals and they need to hear about individual value.

    The conclusion to this brief piece is that international students need to be prepared to speak for themselves as individuals in their U.S. job search.  Career services will have little success changing the hiring patterns of corporate America.  But if you’re an international student, you shouldn’t worry about trends and patterns.  Just figure out what your value is, and articulate it to people who can appreciate it.  My book The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States explains how to do this.  It’s been done with success many times before,and you can too.  Good luck!