Harvard's Office of Career Services

GSAS: Special Concerns for International Students


International students are blessed with skill sets that their American classmates often lack, such as fluency in multiple languages, proven ability to adapt to different environments, and a bicultural perspective on the world. In today’s global workplace, these skills are often in demand.

This being said, international students who wish to stay in the US after graduation face very real, very difficult challenges to their search process that American students do not. Employers in the US demand native-level fluency in both spoken and written English, particularly for jobs that require presentation skills, client contact, or writing reports. An even bigger hurdle is visa status, as the US Government has very strict laws regarding the ability of foreign nationals in the US on student visas to work, whether while still in school or after graduation. These regulations can be difficult for an employer outside of academe to overcome, whereas when universities hire faculty, the process is relatively streamlined.

The first thing any international student seeking a position outside of academe should do is visit the Harvard International Office to become fully informed of what your options may be with regard to working in the US. Once you understand your legal status, make an appointment with a GSAS counselor at OCS to put together a plan for your job search in your field of interest. Many international students do graduate from Harvard and successfully obtain positions in the US, but it takes quite a bit of advance planning and the willingness to learn about a job search process that is likely very different from what you have seen in your home country.