By Busayo Apampa, MBA Candidate
There is a certain level of hard work and grit found in an international student. Leaving family, friends and a familiar lifestyle behind, going through a series of paperwork and interviews, flying many hours overseas, and chasing after a degree in America is only the beginning of the international student’s journey. The main goal of such a student is typically to excel academically, however, many go above and beyond to get more than an education.
When I was younger, my mother taught me the importance of getting an education and being exposed to different cultures. I read books in school written by Nigerian, English, French and American authors and was taught two other languages besides my native tongue. I learned everything from prepositions to algebra and solved mathematical problems using various currencies from around the world. I learned about American and British cultures from the television shows I watched to get a better understanding of what life was like beyond my borders.
I remember the process of searching for college I chose a location where I saw myself being challenged and having an opportunity to grow. A place where I would have to step out of my comfort zone to build new relationships and start a life independent of my parent’s roof. It was a scary transition, no doubt, but one I had always been prepared for. I sometimes worked up to three jobs on campus while attending school full time and maintaining a GPA above 3.0. It wasn’t easy but it was worth every blood, sweat, and tear.
When the time came to explore careers, I attended every networking event I could find, spoke with recruiters at all the career fairs, went to various workshops to improve my personal brand and reached out to professionals for informational interviews. I would start my internship search months in advance and planned out how to prioritize my time between school, work and internship searching. With all the time, money and hard work I put into getting an internship, I found it exceptionally difficult to get one. I had friends in my class who would apply for one job and get it, friends who had connections with a place they wanted to work through family or friends who started the search a week before summer and would get an internship right away.
With every step I took forward, I was met with difficulties that took me several steps back. Finally, I started sharing my story with other international students to see if I was alone. It turned out that this was a common theme with our demographic where we had to work twice as hard to get to where our American peers were. Finally, I began speaking with recruiters and asking why companies were reluctant to hire international students. It turns out there have been a lot of hesitancy behind hiring international student interns due to the unfamiliarity and different level of complexity it can bring to their organization.
An article from San Francisco State University titled, “What Employers Should Know About Hiring International Students” and another from Stanford Graduate School of Business titled, “U.S. Employer’s Guide to Hiring International Students”, gives a detailed account of what really goes into hiring an international student. Both educate employers on the various processes they will come across with an international employee and dispels some of the myths about hiring them. For instance, hiring an international student intern will not cost your company more than a US citizen employee or create more paperwork hassle for you; the international student office takes care of the details and any paperwork that needs to be done.
There are so many benefits of hiring an international students, some of which were listed in the article. Five main benefits include:
- International students offer a wide range of skills and abilities
- International students are multilingual which is great for businesses with a diverse clientele
- International students have the initiative, flexibility and experience to adapt to new situations
- International students have a unique approach to things based on their cultural awareness and diverse way of thinking
- International students are hard workers. They are always ready to work and are very resilient.
My goal is for employers to get educated on the value an international student will add to their organization so they can start advocating for and hire these students. As for the international students reading this, keep holding on and don’t give up the fight. The right opportunity will come and we will sit at the table exchanging stories someday.
Suggestions for employers looking to hire international student interns:
- Make targeted efforts to reach out to the international student body when recruiting for internship positions by reaching out to Boise State’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISS). They also recommend connecting with the Boise State Career Center and posting your opening on HandShake.
- Read “What Employers Should Know About Hiring International Students” and “U.S. Employer’s Guide to Hiring International Students”
- Make sure your recruiting team is well-versed in the international student intern hiring process
U.S. Employer’s Guide to Hiring International Students. (n.d.). Retrieved May 5, 2019, from https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/sites/gsb/files/files-fpp/23656/cor-us-employer-guide-hiring-intl-students.pdf
Cox, L., Tan, L. T., & Hofer, P. (2004). What Employers Should Know About Hiring International Students. Retrieved May 5, 2019, from https://www.sfsu.edu/~sicc/documents/handouts/employers/HiringIntlStudents.pdf
Busayo Apampa is a hardworking, curious, and analytical MBA student at Boise State University. She is currently studying Business Administration and Management with hopes of getting into the Marketing/Marketing Analysis field. She has worked with Treefort Music Festival and co-founded the Women of the Workplace student organization at Boise State. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering, cooking, reading and trying out new restaurants around town. She is currently searching for opportunities in Marketing and Marketing Analysis for the summer of 2019.