Finding a graduate career in the USA for Singaporeans
Thanks to Hollywood, America has long since been a desirable place to live and work for many, even for those who have never been there. Known as the ‘land of opportunities’, many would like to migrate and live the American Dream. If you have been studying in the US, you too probably would like to stay on and start making your first steps in climbing that career ladder.
How do you go about making arrangements to remain in the country, and what are your prospects as an international student? Read on to find out more:
WHAT IS THE GRADUATE MARKET LIKE?
Though the US remains the world’s strongest economy, the economic slump in the recent years has affected the job market. However, 2014 was marked as the year when the economy would improve and produce the strongest growth since the recession in 2009.
Do take note that the employment rates and specific job markets differ from state to state in the US, so you will have to do some research to see where your field of study is required the most. For example, there is an advertised job available for every unemployed worker in Washington D.C, whereas Las Vegas faces a 14.3% graduate unemployment rate.
In general, the economic, finance & banking and media industries have always maintained good stronghold in the US, with 35% of employers in the finance industry opening new positions in credit or financial analysis, financial advising, accounting and auditing in 2014. Media graduates too, have seen good growth at 6.1% per annum in the recent years.
HOW CAN I STAY IN THE USA?
To remain in the USA after graduation, students will either have to obtain an OPT (Optional Practical Training Programme) or a work visa during their ‘grace period’ after their student visas expires. Full-time students who are under the F-1 category will have 60 days.
Under the OPT, you are allowed to work for one year in a related field of study after you have graduated. You could get 1 year every time after you have graduated, so for example, if you choose to do a Masters afterwards, you could get another year and so on. To do so, you will need to submit an OPT I-20 request to your university via its international office, who will then put you on the Student and Exchange Visitor System (SEVIS) once approved. You will receive new documents as part of your application, which you will then submit to the US Immigration.
There are various types of work visa, but as a graduate you will most likely be eligible for the Temporary Working Visa (H-1B), which will allow you to stay in the US for up to 3 years, with the potential extension to 6 years. The full list of temporary visas can be found here.
The prospective employers will be the ones who will apply the visa on behalf of the graduate, who must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree qualification. To remain in the US as a permanent resident, you will need to obtain the ‘Green Card’, which again will have to be sponsored by the employer.
WHERE CAN I FIND A JOB?
There are two categories where jobs are advertised; the ‘hidden’ market and the ‘open’ market.
Jobs in the hidden market are not advertised through public means, but are rather found through networking, university career sites or at career fairs. Hence, they are more difficult to find and requires a certain amount of research and asking around to get wind of them. It is also a good idea to follow the companies that you’d like to work for online and check out if they have any job vacancies posted on their individual sites.
The open market refers to jobs that are publicly advertised, such as on search engines like IdeaList, USA Jobs or American Job Centre. Do also check out the local city’s notice boards or newspapers, as America is a big country and each city will have their own dedicated sites.
Universities are also good places to start, as every US institution that accepts international students will have at least one Designated School Official (DSO) that will be able to provide guidance and provide options that could prepare you for the US business culture before you enter the job market. You could also attend career fairs organized by your university, where prospective employers may be around to recruit graduates directly. The American employers generally prefer those who are upfront and who take initiative, so do approach them and create a good impression of yourself and hopefully they will keep you in mind when a job opportunity presents itself in the near future.
For more information about studying in the USA, go to www.hotcourses.com.sg/usa
A Singaporean globe-trotter who is now based in London. Khai has travelled and lived in several countries due to her airline background. She enjoys dancing, painting, cooking, taking scenic photographs and writing about her adventure travels.