How Career Counseling Can Help International Students

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By Oshitha Narangoda
Last updated on August 10, 2023

With Shorelight’s career counseling services, international students are equipped with the tools to build a successful career anywhere in the world.

A female international student from Asia sits next to a Black male career coach as they go over her resume in front of a laptop

For international students, finding a job in a new country can be challenging, especially when there are differences in cultures and the hiring processes. Shorelight works closely with partner universities to provide career development services and to assist students during their job search. 

If you are an international student hoping to work at an internship or job during your US degree program, read on to learn about the benefits of career counseling, Shorelight’s Career Accelerator program, when you should work with a career coach, and more.

How Can Career Counseling Help You?

Career counselors help you explore your options for possible careers. They work closely with you to understand your interests, abilities, experiences, and academic choices. Career coaches can then identify possible industries or career paths that you can work toward.

They also help you put together a professional portfolio. As part of Shorelight’s Career Accelerator, career counselors provide one-on-one guidance and help you create a resume and cover letter showcasing your skills and talents to employers. They will also teach you how to keep your resume updated and the types of experiences you can include as you advance in your career.

I remember the first time when I was making my resume, I was so frustrated to see I mostly [had] nothing to write on it. Step by step, I was guided not only on the format of my resume, but also what experience I should think about [accomplishing] before a specific date.” — Siyu from China, University of South Carolina

Along with helping you develop professional skills, your career coach will also provide guidance as you explore opportunities for jobs and internships at US organizations while you study. Students working with Shorelight career counselors have been recruited as interns at top US companies such as:

  • BMW

  • Bosch

  • Disney

  • Ernst & Young

  • Google

  • Intel

  • Lenovo

  • Mercedes Benz

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers

  • Renault

Your counselors can also help you begin working on your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT). OPT and CPT allow you to work at US organizations to gain real-world experience. With OPT, you can work up to 12 months in the US after graduation, with STEM graduates being able to request an extension of two years. 

When Should You Seek Career Counseling?

The right time to work with a career coach can vary for every student, depending on previous experience and current study load.

When working with a career coach, plan to explore different career paths that can help you achieve your goals and ambitions. Career counselors will also direct you to workshops, networking events, and internship opportunities throughout your time at university. Get a sense of what will be expected of you and make sure you will be able to commit. Career counseling activities happen regularly and require a sufficient amount of time to truly benefit you, so it is important to consider whether you have enough time and resources to participate while also pursuing your degree.

Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Wait until you have adjusted to university life — As a new student in the US, there are many new experiences, systems, and lifestyle changes you will have to adapt to when you first arrive. It can be overwhelming if you begin career counseling as soon as you arrive on campus.

  • But avoid waiting until your final year — In your last year of studies, your workload and projects may make it challenging to balance career development activities and you may not have enough time to take on an internship or job at the time.

  • Choose the time that feels right for you — The ideal time to begin working on your career development is when you have the time to fully benefit from counseling. Your second semester could be a good time to begin, as you may have adapted to life on campus and in the US, but also have some flexibility in your schedule.

Your career counselor can help you plan out possible career paths and you will have enough time to work on them at your own pace. 

What Does the Career Accelerator Do?

Shorelight’s Career Accelerator was designed to help international students like you develop and build career prospects while studying in the US. The program connects you with dedicated advisors who will work with you directly to help you progress toward your dream career.

Additionally, the Career Accelerator organizes career workshops to help you learn and develop in-demand skills to improve your employability. These workshops cover resume and cover letter writing, best practices for LinkedIn, interview preparation, and how to apply for OPT and CPT.

The Career Accelerator also regularly hosts networking events to help you build your professional network in the US and provides virtual internship opportunities at top employers through Career Accelerator Premium

How Will Career Counseling Affect Your Future?

Career counselors help you prepare for future success by training you with the skills and knowledge to become a highly qualified employee for organizations both in the US and around the world. The skills you develop will benefit you no matter where you decide to work. By taking part in career counseling at your university, you can begin developing your professional skills well before you enter the global workforce. This will give you time to develop unique skills and help you stand out among graduates when you begin applying for jobs. Your career counselor is more than just an instructor, and having a good relationship with them will help you form a strong professional connection that can help you in the long run — even after graduation. 

Shorelight is committed to helping international students like you discover their full potential. With countless opportunities available in the US, career counselors will help you work toward the career you always dreamed of. 

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