/ Asked by Mohsin
I am an international student who recently graduated from City College with a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering. I have a limited 'OPT' work permit, which allows me to live and work in the United States for about two and a half years. Still, I'm having trouble finding a job, because companies are apparently wary of having to sponsor me for a visa (even though that would only be a couple years down the line). I am looking for unpaid/paid internship or volunteering opportunities to gain some industry experience in the field of chemical engineering. I have tried applying for entry level jobs but I have had no luck in getting interviews. I have a 3 month summer internship at Halliburton but that was in Abu Dhabi, UAE. I am in a desperate situation because I have a 3 month deadline from USCIS, after which I will be illegal. Could you advise me as to what must I do? I would greatly appreciate any help or guidance that you can provide.
Answered by Rachel, Hiring Expert at Eaton, on Thursday, June 12, 2014
I understand that it can be a frustrating place to be when you have your degree but are unable to find a job to start your career.  From an employer perspective it is very challenging and expensive to sponsor someone in a role and does make us hesitant to have too many roles available, outside of some very specialized areas, for those requiring sponsorship.  If you are interested in furthering your education is a graduate program which is one way to continue to extend your STEM visa and gain additional education and give yourself more time to gain more experience through internships.  You may also find that it is easier to find employers willing to sponsor you because you have an advanced degree. 

If you are very focused on finding an industry role there are a couple of options that may help you.  First, I would recommend that you work with your college’s international student services and your engineering career services office for opportunities that may be a good fit for you.  Secondly, if you are not actively marketing yourself on LinkedIn start doing so and join some of the groups that are in your field and build your network.  Lastly, due to the time frame that you are looking at regarding your visa status virtual career fairs are another good option.  The recruiting season really will not start until later this year in the fall, however, there are virtual career fairs going on and one resource you can use to find them is via Career Eco.  When you are looking at positions to apply for you should be really concentrating on roles that offer sponsorship.
Answered by John, Hiring Expert at DuPont, on Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Thanks for your question.  I can appreciate your dilemma.  In addition to the great advice in the previous response, I would suggest you connect with chemical engineering organizations (American Society of Chemical Engineering, American Chemical Society) to see if they can assist in finding potential opportunities.

All the best. 
Answered by Deanna, Hiring Expert at IBM Corporation, on Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Since you are a recent graduate, I encourage you to work with the career placement center at your school.  They can give you guidance as you are likely not the only student in the same situation.  Since the OPT status is a situation specific to student status, they will understand the circumstances of your work authorization.  Also, through them you can learn of job opportunities that companies have listed at your school. 
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