Job Search Resources
Engineering Career Services is committed to assisting our undergraduate and graduate international student population in being successful. We work closely with the UW-Madison International Student Services (ISS) office to provide accurate resources and referrals. For the most up-to-date information regarding student visas, immigration policies and processes, please visit ISS.
Handshake collects work authorization information directly from you and employers to make the application and interview process smoother. They ask you two questions: “Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?” “Will you now or in the future require visa sponsorship?” Based on your answers, Handshake shows whether you match the employer preferences. You can filter out job postings based on whether the employer sponsors visa and/or accepts CPT/OPT. Below are two articles by Handshake on how the information is processed.
- Student Work Authorization Information: https://support.joinhandshake.com/hc/en-us/articles/115015978207
- Employer Work Authorization Workflows: https://support.joinhandshake.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000175727
Each semester, hundreds of employers come to our Engineering Career Fairs to hire Badger Engineers for their internships, co-ops, and full-time positions. Employer representatives with positions like engineers and human resources will stand at their booth, speaking to students individually. It is your chance to introduce yourself to them and evaluate whether you might be a good fit for their open positions.
Here is a 3-Step Process for being successful with a career fair:
Step 1: Prepare
- Check out the tips from ECS: https://ecs.wisc.edu/students/career-fairs/
- Attend career fair prep session and get your resume reviewed
- Plan your responses to questions like “Do you need sponsorship now or in the future?” or “Do you have U.S. work authorization?”
- Research potential employers and whether they accept CPT/OPT applicants.
Tip: The grid on the back of event maps and Handshake are good place to start
Step 2: Attend
- Check-in with the ECS staff
- Approach the employer of interest and introduce yourself
- There may be a line.
- The representative may take a physical copy of your resume, ask you to scan a QR code or complete a survey
- Take breaks in between! Use this time to jot down any notes and relax.
Before you leave an employer..
- Ask about the next steps
- Ask for their business cards or contact information
Step 3: Follow-up
- Within 24 hours, make sure to follow-up with them and thank them for their time and consideration for their positions. It may be helpful to reflect on the conversation to remind them of who you are.
- If you have not heard from the representative within a few day, reach out. Follow-up in two weeks.
Tip: It can sometimes be exhausting to constantly talk and translate at the same time. Talk through the general process with a friend ahead of time so that their are less unexpected situations.
ECS is here to support your career success and professional development! Common areas that ECS advisors can provide guidance on include:
- Resume and cover letter development & feedback
- Co-op, summer internship and job search strategies
- Tips on building your professional network
- Interview preparation and practice
- How to talk to employers
- And much more!
NOTE: ISS is your BEST resource for understanding immigration laws, rules, and how regulations affect you and your ability to maintain your visa status and benefits. ECS works closely with ISS on matters of CPT eligibility.
Drop-in Career Advising with ECS: see schedule here
Schedule a Starfish Appointment with ECS: see staff here
Frequently Asked Questions
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Work Authorization Application Questions (F-1 students)
International students often have questions about how to answer the questions they encounter on employment applications and verification forms regarding work authorization. This guide is meant to provide information to help you make an informed decision about how to answer. This is a guide and as the applicant, you are responsible for understanding your own unique circumstance and applying that knowledge to the appropriate response.
Work Authorization Questions in Handshake:
Part I: Are you legally authorized to work in the Unites States? = Yes (if you are eligible for CPT or OPT)
Part II: Will you now or in the future require visa sponsorship? = Yes
Note: This pair of questions are commonly used on other systems and application. They are considered the standard.
Other work authorization questions (with sample responses for F-1 students):
- Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S. for any employer? = No (you are only eligible to work for specific employer)
- Do you have unrestricted work authorization in the U.S.? = No (you are only eligible to work for a specific employer)
- Do you have access to work authorization in the U.S.? = Yes* (if you are eligible for CPT or OPT)
- Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for employment visa status, for instance, H-1B visa status? = Yes (CPT and OPT are limited-duration authorizations)
- Will you now, or in the future require [company name] to commence (sponsor) an immigration case in order to employ you (for example, H-1B or other employment-based immigration case)? = Yes* (CPT and OPT are limited-duration authorizations)
Note: It is important to be aware of the restrictions, processes, limitations of your work authorization. If you state that you have work authorization or access to work authorization, be prepared to provide supplemental information on what the authorization is, when you would be able to access it and any issues with timing such as processing time.
*Sample Responses for Supplemental Information:
- Continuing Student: I am currently in F-1 student status. I will be applying for CPT for this internship/co-op. CPT is an employment benefit that will enable me to work in the US for curricular practical training without employer sponsorship for these specific dates: X to X. After that time, I am then eligible for OPT and eventually I would need to be sponsored for another immigration status, such as H-1B status.
- Graduating Student: I am currently in F-1 student status. I will be applying for OPT (or I have applied for OPT) to begin on X date, which is an employment benefit that will enable me to work in the US for X months without employer sponsorship. I am/am not eligible for the STEM OPT Extension, which is currently XX months. After that time, I would need to be sponsored for another immigration status, such as H-1B status.
What is CPT?
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is employment authorization for F-1 students. CPT is an employment benefit that is only available while a student is pursuing their degree. CPT cannot be used for employment after graduation.
Engineering student that are eligible for CPT seek authorization for summer internship and co-op. ECS assists student will the CPT submission process in terra dotta that will be completed with ISS. Student’s seeking CPT must enroll in a CPT-approved academic course at UW-Madison concurrently with the off-campus work experience.
All CPT employment must be directly related to your major field of study. The purpose of CPT is to apply the knowledge and skills you are gaining in the classroom to practical work experience in the U.S.
CPT is a benefit that you can access having maintained your F-1 student visa status for a minimum of 2 consecutive mandatory academic terms.
ISS CPT Information: https://iss.wisc.edu/employment/f1-employment/f-1-curricular-practical-training-cpt/
What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit for students on F-1 visas. It allows students to work off-campus in a job directly related to their major field of study. The purpose of OPT is for students to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to practical work experience in the U.S.
Engineering students typically access OPT for employment after graduation.
ISS assists students with OPT by recommending work authorization on their I-20s. The OPT application is processed by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). ECS does not have role in the OPT process.
Looking for info. on F-1 OPT STEM Extension? – Visit ISS
Top OPT Employers (National data) – use your GoinGlobal login via Handshake to access information on employers who have accepted OPT
Can I work off-campus as a J-1 visa holder?
J-1 students may be eligible to work off-campus to gain work experience in their field of study through Academic Training (AT). AT may take place before or after the completion of your degree and requires authorization from your J-1 sponsor
ECS does not have a role in processing AT. Please work with ISS and your sponsor on this process.
More information: https://iss.wisc.edu/employment/j1-employment/
Where can I find information on H-1B employers?
There are a few resources that allow you to see employer who have both successfully secured H-1B as well as those that have applied for H-1B but were not successful.
- Can be sorted by Employer State, Fiscal Year and Industry Code
- Limited download options. Learn more about how interpret the data here
GoinGlobal (login via Handshake)
- Identify positions, job locations and salary ranges
- Search by company name, occupation, industry, job title, and year