For international students at the University of Oregon, finding career experience which is in line with their field of study can be difficult. Because of this, the University established the collaborative International Student Career Alliance four years ago to support and advise international students in their pursuit of a career, no matter what industry.
Because work experience such as placements, internships or even part-time jobs can significantly enhance the value of an undergraduate degree, it’s often vital that students find some form of career experience whilst they are studying at undergraduate level.
This year, plans to expand the Career Alliance are underway with the hiring of a new alliance manager and international student career advisor, Bartholomew Kassel. Along with this, Haozhe Li, the alliance’s intern and sophomore international student from southwestern China has created a prototype for an international student job shadowing program along with his mentor, UO Career Center student communication and engagement manager Courtney Ball.
Through his internship with the Career Alliance, Li has gained valuable work experience through creating job brochures and handouts for fellow international students and designing the icon, website and Facebook page. The professional experience which he is gaining through this experience is exactly the type of involvement which the Career Alliance is aiming to replicate for other international students in other capacities, from business students to sporting students on a scholarship from athletes-usa.com/spain and other countries around the world.
Many international students are able to take advantage of their student immigration visa benefits, which provide them with the opportunity to work both on and off campus, depending on their visa specifics. A large part of the main goal of the Career Alliance is to provide more understanding and awareness regarding these benefits not just for international students, but also to campus employers.
This is primarily done through the Career Alliance’s partnership with the UO Careers Center, which has produced to date six subcommittees, made up of alliance members from different departments at the University. These focus on six vital areas of international student support: communications, networking and cross-cultural integration, campus engagement, access to international student-friendly employers, part-time employment opportunities and curriculum and instruction. Director of International Student and Scholar Services Abe Schafermeyer says that the Career Alliance exists because of the clear need to better educate and prepare international students for these opportunities.
Development and Improvement
It is clear that the Career Alliance is seeking constant improvement. International student advisor Ethan Mapes says that listening to the different experiences of international students at the University of Oregon is key to understanding how the alliance and committee can better aid them to succeed.
Mapes went on to say that he also often found that more could be done to assist international students in their pursuit of a professional career. He believes that offering top-notch support to these students is something that the collaborative efforts of the Careers Alliance can achieve.
The support network provided for international students is showing great success, with many students in turn bringing back much value to the UO campus and community.