26 Things You Should Know (and Do) To Find a Full-Job on F1 Visa and OPT
Job search is hard and requires a lot of effort.
Fact: Finding a job in the Coronavirus economy as an F1 Visa holder on OPT, STEM OPT or H1B Visa will be challenging.
This guide will give insights about:
- Overview of what it takes to find a job in the USA
- Your First Day in the USA – Day 1 of your of Job Search
- Job Search Process should be organized and simplified
Here in Happy Schools, you have read several experiences shared by students about the Job Search process they took to find a direct, full-time job.
My Job Search Story:
This my job search story:
I was preparing for my first resume.
I took a copy of my old resume and after admiring about my accomplishments for a few minutes, I wasn’t sure why I would even need a new resume (or that’s what I thought).
Then I asked my roommate for his copy of his resume, so I could format and layout and tailor the contents based on my courses, projects, certifications.
- I started editing the resume.
- Words weren’t coming out.
- I didn’t know what to write in the resume
Then I did what anyone with access to Google would do (look for sample resume).
Then I had a workable resume version after a week. Then I would admire the work I have done crafting this resume (I’m sure you have done that).
It looked like that’s the best document I have ever created!
So, I would apply for a few jobs, then wait for the interview class to come knocking the door.
After a couple of weeks, I would work on a new version of my resume with a brand new layout and the same content.
And the cycle will continue:
- Resume Tweaks
- High expectations for an interview call
Then I asked my friends who were applying for an internship around the same time to learn what they are doing and how are they feeling.
Guess what? There weren’t feeling any better or differently. We’re all pretty following the same process.
Then I learned the job search process the hard way.
I eventually got an internship, then a full-time job. Here are the lessons I learned along the way and I hope you will get some value out of this.
When I was going through the US College application process, I was expecting a journey that looked like this:
Get Admission. Get a Degree. Get a Job. Happily Ever After!
But, none one told me about the missing pieces.
Probably you are hearing (or heard) the same story.
Just find a way to go to the USA and your life is all settled. But, that’s not the reality. Life teaches you hard lessons on the way. Those lessons make you a better person.
Here’s couple of stories to prove that:
- 10 Months. 968 Jobs Applied. 704 No Responses. 12 Interviews. 1 Job Offer
- 5 Reasons Why You Are Not Finding A Full-Time Job On OPT (Or CPT Internship).
So, what can be done about that? What can you do about that?
How can I help you find a career here in the U.S.A. based on my experience and journey?
1. How do I find a job in the USA as an International student?
Be a “Grade A” student.
You could be attending B or C Grade universities., but remember to be a “A Grade” student.
When I say Grade A, I mean everything that you do count:
- Academic skills
- Technical Skills (subject knowledge)
- Interview preparathi
- Personality and Personal Branding
- Communication skills
- Ability and Attitude
So, how to improve yourself? Refer to the following video interviews. These two students reinvented themselves and forged a path for forward coming from an average background.
- 300% Increase in my H1B Visa Salary between jobs
- Study In USA Vs Canada (Jobs To Salary) – Interview With Sri Harsha
2. What does “Grade A” student mean?
Don’t chase class grades, but chase the knowledge.
Getting B grade in a tough course is better than A grade in an easy course.
Have you thought about taking two easy courses and one tough course to keep up the grades? That’s probably not going to help you.
Along with classes and home works, you have to re-invent yourself.
Studying in the USA is a golden opportunity available to a selected few.
Make maximum utilization of the resources available at your campus. And experience your life on your terms and find ways to enrich and enhance your experience.
- Weekend Camping trip with American Friends (vs) Watching Netflix with Indian Roommates.
Note: When I say A Grade, I mean Type A personality kind of thing. It includes overall personality, attitude, and approach towards your life.
3. What does it take to find a job?
One Word – Effort.
Actually, quite a lot of effort.
First, start with transforming yourself and your knowledge.
Then build your network.
Find a mentor.
Improve your communication skills.
Understand what it takes to find a job.
Don’t expect to come into the country as an average student, take easy courses, and think that you deserve a job.
Unless you have stretch yourself, expand your knowledge boundary, finding a decent job is difficult.
4. How do I find a mentor?
There two types of mentors: Real people and Books.
You can find someone who can guide you. If you can’t find a person, then read a lot of books.
Reading 100 to 200 books will give you pretty much the same effect or at least 80% of a direct mentor.
In either way, you need to invest time to develop reading habits if you don’t have one.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
Then become good at reading the way that’s going to give maximum impact and a system to go back to refer to important points in the future.
Check out the Resources Page for a list of recommended books for boosting your career.
And finding a mentor is so much easy with the age of LinkedIn.
Anyone who has walked the same path as you did will be a good mentor!
5. How do I build your professional network?
Think Network as circles.
- Circle 1: Family Members
- Circle 2: Friends (college mates, school mates, roommates)
- Circle 3: People you meet at in-person (events, meet-ups, professors, etc).
- Circle 4: Your Mentors
- Circle 5: People you meet during the interviews, conferences, hiring managers, HR personnel’s.
- Circle 6: Industry leaders
- Circle 7: Potential Hiring Managers and HR professionals
- Circle 8: Influencer’s
These are concentric circles.
It’s easy to build your network up to level 3.
Beyond Level 3, you need to have a strategy, framework and execution plan.
You will struggle with your job search if your network includes only people within Level 3.
Students who land jobs via networking are the ones who access to Level 4 or beyond.
6. I get it. Circle 4 and above is tough. But, how do I reach them?
Ask your mentor for introduction. Then ask the new person for another introduction. Keep at it daily, weekly. Your network will grow.
That’s what I meant by you need a Strategy, Framework, and Execution Plan.
If you like to learn more about building your professional network, join this Free Job Search Boot Camp course delivered via Email.
Next, let’s pivot to communication skills.
In order to build your network, you need good communication skills & maturity!
7. Why do I need to improve communication skills?
Communication skills don’t mean writing emails and speaking over the phone. It’s way beyond that.
How you act and react to a specific situation (situational awareness).
Understanding the clues based on the situation. That’s called situational awareness.
It’s part of your communication skill.
If your English proficiency test scores are below par, then you have to work hard on improving your spoken English, situational awareness skills. And not to mention your personal productivity.
8. How to do improve my spoken English?
Read books and more books.
Ask feedback from your mentor.
Make sure you pick a mentor who can point out the mistakes.
Then think about ESL courses in your campus or online courses to improve your spoken English. It can take 3 to 6 months of practice with 15 to 30-minute effort per day to see improvements to your slang and length of sentences that you can speak.
9. Gosh, that’s a lot of work. Is there an easier way?
Yes, you can take shortcuts. Let me know how it works out for you.
Guess what happened to those who did not want to work hard?
Read the following story I Went To A Consultant For Training. They Offered Classes For “How To Create A Fake Resume”
As you can see, you came to USA to get educated, not to cheat!
10. What else should I be doing to get a job?
Well, you need a resume, good social media profiles to showcase your skills (aka personal branding) like a blog or a profile page.
Go to events, build your social skills, join clubs and society, etc. Then be proactive and stay productive.
Don’t wait until 2 months before your graduation to polish your resume!
11. Did you just say a Blog?
A blog is a must to showcase your work.
There’s a difference between having a blog that really showcases you as a person and your abilities and a domain for namesake.
Lot of International F-1 students are happy to hide under the cover of the resume.
Why do you want to do that?
Put yourself out there.
Showcase what you can offer.
Tell the world about your Analytical and Problem Solving Skills. Express your Personality.
12. Why not Facebook?
Monitor your social media usage.
Employers will be looking for them to learn more about you. If your social media profile is not “Mom Approved” then chances of getting an interview call is going to be tough.
Did you see a high school basketball coach was fired over a picture she posted in FB with another high school coach?
13. Why do I need a resume for job search?
Of course you need a good resume for job search.
Even if you have a LinkedIn profile and a blog, you still need a resume.
A solid resume, one that’s crafted to showcase your accomplishments and lessons earned.
A resume is what that gets your foot in the door (even if you are applying via networking).
14. How do I know if my resume is good enough?
Get your resume reviewed by your mentor and professionals in your network or have your resume written professionally.
Each and every word in your Resume should earn its way into the document.
The resume is an evolving document.
Most students resume would have work experience and projects. That’s a good start. But, what you write below that counts.
Then you have to make sure the key elements of your resume are highlighted and visible when hiring managers scans the resume.
15. Why professionally written resume, why spend the money?
Colleges don’t teach the skills that are required to get a job.
Computer Science Major learns how to write code.
Civil Engineer learns how to build bridges and buildings.
You are not taking a 3 Credit Class to learn how to write a resume.
Would you go to a Dentist for your stomach pain?
No, you don’t. But, when it comes to resume writing, don’t try to be a professional resume writer, when you are not.
16. Is it easy to find a job as an entry-level student?
Millions of college students don’t have on the job work experience, when they graduate.
As an international student on F-1 Visa (U.S.A.) it can be a challenge to find a job, unless you put in your work and ready to transform yourself.
To find a Entry Level job, you have re-invent yourself during the period of stay in the USA as a student.
If you don’t have work experience and would be graduating to look for Entry Level jobs, then make sure you find an Internship and work one or two-semester on CPT. Then try to get that CPT Internship converted into OPT Job.
If you attended B Grade university and graduate with 3.0 GPA, then you are just one among the 1000’s of graduates.
- What makes you different?
- How will they know you are different from other applicants?
- Why would an employer hire you over another student with a better brand name university?
17. What should I do to re-invent myself?
Ask yourself the following question
- Are you stretching your knowledge and ability?
- Are you taking tough courses that make you better?
- Are you facing problems head-on or ducking?
- When you hit a wall and problem you can’t solve, how are you dealing with resistance?
- Are you learning new skills or just content with home works and assignments?
- How many self-improvement books are you reading per year?
- Do you have a monthly, quarterly, yearly goals that are tracked, monitored and measured?
- Are you networking relentlessly?
- The list goes on.
If you like to have multiple job offers lined-up when you graduate, then you have been different.
18. What should I do, if I don’t know what kind of job I need?
As a young adult, it’s hard to know where you want to be in your life and what kind of career you like to have.
When you don’t have a clear picture, then start with the first job offer you get. Then you can develop and identify your interest.
Don’t chase dollars and higher pay in your first few jobs, rather focus on learning opportunity.
You have several decades to earn money, but what you learn in first 5 years after your school is going to stop you for success or failure in your life ahead.
19. I know my interests, what should I do next?
Great. Work towards that.
Take additional courses from open source platforms.
Take-up projects to gain sharpen your knowledge.
You just need to be good at One Skill.
If you tell you are a Python Programmer, then better have the ability to write complex code without searching in Google!
When you work on a job that you love, you will make money will follow automatically.
Instead, if you chasing the dollars by doing any job you hate, chase your passion and interests.
20. What should I do to make more money?
Be an entrepreneur where you an be your own boss you control your destiny.
You can tend to be entrepreneurial with your own day to day tasks at work or personal life.
Target wealth, not paycheck to paycheck savings. Start small.
The most important skill you will learn from living, working and studying in America is to gain the ability to generate income.
Ability to Generate income is not the same as having a job.
The skills to find a job.
The skill to adapt in a new country.
The skill to solve life problems.
The skills to solve complex problems.
When you have that skill (ability to generate income), you will be able to survive anywhere in the world.
21. How do I make wealth?
That’s simple. Make more money by doing what you love.
It’s tough to grow your wealth by doing what you hate.
Ask this question to yourself “Do I love and enjoy the job I do?”
If you love what you are doing in your job, you will grow no matter what life throws at you.
Make sure to find a field that you are passionate about.
Don’t focus on your efforts to find a job, focus your efforts on finding one skill that you love doing.
22. I hate my job, but I’m not sure what I should do to enjoy life?
If you hate your job, then figure out what you love to do.
It can be working for, another employer, or do something that motivates you.
You can still work in a company and start something on your side that you enjoy.
Use the motivation and energy that you get from one source to drive the rest of your day.
23. How do I make money by doing what I love?
Remember that 10,000-hour rule?
You become an expert when you have spent at least 10,000 hours (from the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell).
When you have spent 5,000 hours, you can start selling and charging for services.
You start making money when your expertise level increases.
You start making wealth when you become an expert.
Do the math: Spend 3 hours per day on what you like. That’s 1095 hours per year.
In 4 years time, you can start making money. You should be doing part-time to full- time income from 4th year.
If you think, you can’t make a full-time living from the work by then, then just push yourself for one more year. If nothing works out to 5 years, think about another new interest.
This applies to the skills you are acquiring in your day job or from the hobby.
More experience you get, better you become at your skills and employers would want to hire you and keep you.
25. I can’t spend 5 years to know if I can really make money?
Well, you can’t become an expert overnight.
I have been blogging for years now. I had zero blogging skills. But, I kept at it, I learned as I went along. I picked up new skills. I invested in courses and networked with professional bloggers.
Universities reach out to be promoted via the Happy Schools.
How did this happen? It did not happen overnight. It took a small dedicated effort over long time.
Above all, it all comes down to finding what you are passionate about.
I have seen friends with woodwork as a hobby. Others are real estate agents (they love homes and outdoor projects). I have seen friends do drag racing on weekends and others build homes.
These are skills that will help you stay on track and be passionate of life and help you and your family move forward.
26. I don’t want to work hard or go through all this long, hard process. I love to have fun and relax.
That’s good for you. You can earn money by doing a job that you will hate or others hate you at work. But, there will be a point in time in your life, you will realize you need to get going, change yourself.
I just hope, it’s not too late when you realize you wasted precious life by being average and chasing your moving dreams.
That’s 26 things to set you on the right path to finding a full-time job and living a passionate life.
But, I hope if you can get just a few things right, it would make a considerable difference in your life and career.
Take part in the interesting discussion here this Facebook Group Post or this Facebook Page Post.
I started reading and kept on reading the whole blog. your perception is very insightful.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and talent with us!
This reminded me why I came to the USA, and why I chose to stay.
God bless you!
Very useful to f1 visa students
Quite insightful. Great blog