People laughing together at a table

There is no denying the ugly truth. When you first hear about the struggle of international students looking for employment within the United States, you don’t think much of it. It only hits you the day that you have to face the truth yourself. The bottom-line is that finding an internship or a job as a foreign national in the US is one of the most overwhelming yet autonomous periods of life you will ever go through.

There are so many, very much including me, who are hoping to stay in the country after college and work. And there is a vast array of majors that people come from to offer to companies. One would think they would take us in a heartbeat, given we can offer hard work and hopefully good results. If only that were the case! However, there is an endless amount of domestic students who can fulfill the company’s requirements without work visa sponsorship, while also generating employment for citizens.

Believe me, I am not trying to discourage you. I hope I haven’t done so already! I am writing this to make you aware, and let you know that there is a chance. This will be a point in yourself where you will learn to get things done on your own, with your own network, which you built all by yourself.

I started the process of applying in August of 2015. I sent one application out, wrote a cover letter, sent my resume and hoped for the best. I got rejected within 24 hours. I was much too disappointed for one application. I started sending out more, and by the time September hit, I had sent out about 15. As you probably guessed, I was rejected by all of them. I obviously started doubting my ability and I wasn’t sure what my future held. Nevertheless, it never hurt to keep applying.

At this point I had numerous friends and college (also internationals) who had given up by this point. But I was determined. I also realized that they only applied to firms that have been known to hire international students in the past, and stopped after that. However, I had a deep, strong feeling that there are more companies that would be willing to sponsor.

Early November, and approximately 55 applications later; I got an offer from a mid-sized firm in California for a 3 month internship in their Human Resources team.

This is exactly what I wanted. I was ecstatic that day. Without any prior contacts, or any help from family or friends, I found an internship. I had a good amount of support from the IU SPEA career advisors. They guided me on what companies have good HR teams.

The moral is to keep trying. Your self-esteem will drop, you will see other people get internships while you’re still waiting, you will never want to see another application in your life. But be sure to keep going and there will be positive results.

Anisha Srinivasan