By: Luiza Goncalves Oliveira Benvenuti, Senior Psychology Student from Brusque, Brazil, and Senior Peer Career Guide with University Career Services
Everyone ends up applying for jobs sooner or later. As an international student, I always question myself if my resume looks good, if employers can tell I’m not from the United States, and if I have a lower chance of landing a job because I require some type of visa sponsorship, that being either CPT, OPT, or H-1B. In this post, Micah Lindblad from Nelnet will be answering these questions and more.
Micah Lindblad is a campus recruiting team lead at Nelnet.
He finds talented students particularly in business, finance, marketing, and technology, markets and meets with students to talk about opportunities at Nelnet, and when students are hired, he makes sure that they have a very positive and growing experience.
- Can you identify an international student’s resume when going through candidates for a position? If so, what gives you that impression?
There are times that they are identifiable because the student lists their university’s home country on it, but at the same point that is not a negative impression. However, a tip for students that are developing their resume is to have a grasp of the English grammar and writing. So, making sure that bullet points make sense, capitalization, punctuation, just general flow of bullet points and how they are talking. Because we are looking for the overall quality (writing and content) of your resume and not so much about its structure or if you have international experience.
- How do you select or identify that an international student is a good fit for the position you are hiring for?
We don’t necessarily rank our international students through a different criterion than we do our domestic students – we line them up all the same with the rest of our pool. So, the same as all our other candidates, we make sure they have strong communication skills, both written and verbal, they understand a little bit of what we do at Nelnet, and they have a strong understanding of what they want to do in their future – we understand students sometimes don’t have a definite answer to what they want to do as a future career but having two or three career path options and how Nelnet could potentially help the student reach their goals.
- Does Nelnet hire students for OPT?
Yes! We provide support for CPT and OPT; however, that doesn’t mean we will always provide that to students. Normally in situations where the student has intern or is currently working at Nelnet, their likelihood to go down that path is greater, but we are familiar with the CPT, OPT, and H-1B processes and we also work with an immigration firm to help in those situations when they arise.
- What are some things international students should avoid when talking to employers?
Don’t be interested in company just because they have an opportunity (for a visa sponsorship), be interested in working for a company because you are interested in what they are doing, the types of work they are involved in, potentially the locations or regions, recent news about them, etc. So, have an overall understanding of what the company does.
- When do you think is the best time for an international student to mention they are interested in future employment/sponsorship (OPT or H-1B)?
Taking it from a student’s perspective, it is in their benefit to ask earlier in the process – since they can focus on companies that are open to that idea – and from an organization’s perspective, it benefits them knowing early as well – since they will have the heads up in advance. Students may hesitate sometimes because they might find out earlier that they will not be able to work for a specific company, but it is also beneficial for the students so they can focus on and find companies that are willing to take those steps of CPT and OPT and build relationships with those organizations. Then, it ties back to my previous answer of trying to create those relationships because you are interested on what they do and not just because they offer a sponsorship opportunity.
- What are some of the major skills you look for in a perfect candidate?
This might be more related to where we are right now, but it might also have lasting ramifications specially for students in the future. So, your ability to work in situations where you don’t have all the information that you need, working through ambiguous situations – for example, at Nelnet, all the interns are working remotely right now, so they can’t as easily pop over to their manager, teammate, or coworker and ask for help, so they have to do a lot of problem solving and critical thinking but there is also an internal sense of “I don’t know what to do” which sometimes can make employees and interns uncomfortable. However, more than anything, there might always be remote components to our work and situations/instances where you don’t know what to do, so I always look for the way that candidates solve problems and how they react when they don’t have all the information that they need.
- What makes a candidate stand out in an interview?
There are a lot of ways that students can stand out in interviews but it also goes back to what kind of preparation they do ahead of time, and there are a lot of ways you can prepare – for example, trying to find out as much information about the person that you are talking to/the hiring manager (through LinkedIn, etc.), what is the business line of the company, or for accounting and finance majors, looking for earnings reports which has a lot of the finances of the company, news, and where the company will be moving in the future. So, in term of preparation, I think that there is where students could gain the most from and I don’t see as many students taking advantage of.
- How do you think your company benefits from having international employees?
We try to be as inclusive and understanding for all our associates but, certainly, our international employees bring in different opinions, processes or procedures. For those that don’t know, Nelnet has an international office in Australia, so it’s been very interesting to see how our business line has begun to shift, bring in more education, and inclusive conversations to showcase all holidays, ceremonies, and religions. So as a domestic employee that hasn’t had a lot of exposure, it is really interesting to see how spread out and wide range our organization is. The biggest benefit of it all is that the world and U.S. companies are becoming increasingly globalized, and if our organization doesn’t replicate that or lean into it then we are missing out on a good amount of talent to our competitors or to different locations when we could be having them contribute to what we are trying to do.
If you want to watch the full video, click here.