International Students Struggle to Land Jobs After School

By Rajkamal Rao 

Regulars to our website are familiar with our post, "Indian Students' ROI on US Education is Low". In it, we say that poor school selection, hyper-competition from other international students for internships and jobs, restrictive US immigration policies and a poor US job market all contribute to a low return on investment. 

The Ohio State University (OSU) is one of the largest state universities in the country.  The university newspaper has published an article on Jan 27, 2013 - "International students struggle to land jobs after school". While this story is more about undergraduate students, the themes are all too familiar for graduate students as well.

"According to a post-graduate survey from the Fisher College of Business targeting international students, only 14 out of 204 international graduated students who reported in the period of 2011-2012 are employed in the U.S., and 79 of them were going to graduate school".  Read the full article here.

In neighboring Indiana, students report a similar problem at Purdue University, consistently reputed to be one of the best schools in the country.  In a Feb 1, 2013 post in the campus online newspaper,  Saran Mishra, a junior in the Krannert School of Management says, "In this week’s School of Management Employers Forum job fair booklet, only seven out of 84 companies were offering full time positions to international students and eight out of 73 companies were offering internships".  Read the full article here.   

And over in New York City, international students from Columbia University, a prestigious Ivy League school are facing the same issues.  In a blog post on Jan 21, 2013 called "International Students Need not Apply", a student complains about restrictive immigration policies that prevent students from getting summer internships although "there is no dearth of jobs".  We question his statement that jobs are plentiful in New York (may be they are for outstanding students from Columbia) - but his larger point is still valid.

International MBA students at Indiana's famous Notre Dame university are also reporting similar problems. (Feb 25, 2013).

These are clearly dismal statistics.  If you can't obtain a job in the field in which you obtained a degree, what good is your education?

Let's analyze the Purdue case here through our lenses.  Indiana is a great state and its government has made significant progress in recent years in reducing the size of government and attracting businesses to relocate to it.  But, readers who are familiar with our Step 3: Choose Your Target States by Better Understanding the US Economy would probably not choose Indiana.  The state still ranks 37/50 in unemployment according to the latest statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  And its GDP growth is in the third quintile.  However, our own Exception #1 to Step 3 would permit consideration of Purdue because it is a school of national repute.

The issue for this Purdue student is probably the chosen field of study.  From Step 4: Identify Occupations in Demand and Industries that are Trending Upward, would an undergraduate business degree have much value?  This depends upon what career the student wants to pursue.  If the student is bent on a career on Wall Street, getting such a job in the current environment is less likely.  But business students can adapt to various opportunities in different industries.  Perhaps a double major in health care policy, a hot field, may make this student more attractive to employers.  The one issue here is competition from other business students - which will likely place pressure on career decisions.

And finally, as the Indiana student says, restrictive immigration policies can hurt.  We have covered the STEM topic in multiple posts (please perform a search on our website for STEM).  The good news is that some kind of immigration relief will likely be seen in whatever reform law is passed this year.

If international students (although undergraduates) from big schools in Ohio, Indiana and New York are having so much trouble finding work, what is the return on investment for students who are in worse states or schools? 

As always, we are glad you are here.

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