The Harvard Office of Career Services launched a new online platform that helps international students find jobs in the United States and aids American students in locating jobs abroad earlier this month.
The platform, Interstride, allows students to look up individual companies and see how many visas they have sponsored. Interstride also provides information on visa application processes in different countries, practical advice for living abroad, and organizational tools to help structure the job search.
OCS decided to subscribe to Interstride because international students — both in the College and in the graduate schools — have increasingly faced challenges in securing jobs in the U.S.
“Last year, it was particularly difficult for our international students, particularly our College students, to land jobs in the United States if they wanted them because our government has been making the visa process even a little more challenging,” OCS Director Robin Mount said.
International students wanting to work in the U.S. must be in accordance with F-1 student visa regulations. To work in the U.S., F-1 visa holders can apply for one of two programs: Curricular Practical Training or Optional Practical Training.
CPT must be completed before graduation and is incorporated into a student’s plan of study. OPT can be granted initially for up to twelve months and can be used either while a student is in college or post-graduation. Most international students searching for summer internships apply for CPT, because the timeframe for obtaining OPT tends to be lengthy.
“I have international friends who applied for OPT but didn’t get an answer on time, so they had to cancel their summer plans in the U.S. and find something else to do,” Tunisia-native Wassim Marrakchi ’21 said.
Some international students have also reported longer processing times for OPT applications in recent years.
Students with E.U. passports have also faced new challenges in their job searches due to Brexit, according to Mount. In the past, some E.U. citizens chose to work at multinational corporations with branches in the U.K., but those opportunities are now limited given that many companies are eliminating their British branches.
With these recent difficulties in mind, OCS chose to bring Interstride to campus and will terminate their subscription to GoinGlobal — the office’s current platform for international job searches — on Monday.
“I think GoinGlobal had been designed thinking about students who wanted to go abroad and then also happened to help students who were international students,” said OCS Associate Director of Employer Relations and Operations. “I think Interstride was instead designed by people who had been international students themselves, so it was designed with the international student in mind but also helps students who want to go abroad and has lots of country guides and things like that.”
Dimitar Karev ’21, who is from Bulgaria, said that though he believes Interstride will be helpful, there is a limit to how much the platform can be of assistance.
“Almost all the jobs that I applied to had the question, ‘Are you eligible to work in the U.S.?’ or a question like ‘Would you ever want us to sponsor you in the U.S.?’” he said. “If I ever wanted to continue full-time, I’d need to be sponsored, and a lot of companies don’t sponsor and don’t accept international students.”
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