International college students are often confronted by barriers to career success that may be unfamiliar to U.S. students. What’s more, their universities may not offer resources that take these barriers into account. These roadblocks are especially daunting during the COVID-19 crisis, when careers and futures seem like they can change at the drop of a hat.
Universities going completely online this past spring upended the lives of university students—and particularly international students. Some students were forced to return to their home country and attend classes from home on East Coast time. Some who stayed were blocked out of their dorms and left to fend for themselves. Already excluded from in-state tuition at public universities and federal loans more generally, international students have seen their financial hardships exacerbated by the pandemic.
Additionally, earlier in the summer, ICE was threatening to deport any international student who was living in the US and attending university classes completely online. They have walked back this decision but have now decided that all incoming first-year international students are not allowed in the US if their programs are 100% online. These ongoing policy decisions have not made a welcoming environment for international students, who feel especially unsupported in the face of these threats.
You can show your support for these students by taking part in an activity organized by a nonprofit that works with such students across the United States by offering workshops nationally or in certain locations upon request. By offering your time and genuine effort, you can help them gain the skills to navigate these uncertain times with a virtual career chat.
For the activity, students will be able to directly learn about you and your team's careers, lives, and successes. Using structured questions, you will get the chance to learn about international students’ experiences in the U.S. and New York City, and students will get the valuable experience of interacting with and learning from a professional. The structured questions will focus mostly on the students’ professional goals and are meant to help them as they plan for the next steps in their careers. For instance, you might have a one-on-one conversation with a student about their career expectations and provide advice as you would give yourself when you were their age. The experience will either be 1:1 or broken into small groups (~4 people), with staff members of the organization making “visits” to each group to encourage engagement.
The following questions/conversation points are meant to serve as a loose guide for the discussions:
- What do you want to do after you graduate?
- Have you been applying to internships? What has the process been like?
- What are the challenges international students face when searching for internships/jobs?
- What is your favorite course you’ve taken so far in college?
- Speak about your career path, from entering into college to now.
- Share advice on what you would tell yourself when you were in college.