As an international student, the type of Visa you are on determines your eligibility to work in the United States while studying. The Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) can help you explore and understand your options regarding working and obtaining proper work authorization.
Using Curricular Practical Training through the Cooperative Education Program
  •  Please consult with an adviser in Office of International Programs and Services regarding your eligibility to use your Curricular Practical Training through enrollment in the Co-op Program. Bring your offer letter and/or position description.
  • Positions must be paid or compensated and offer a minimum of 160 hours of work during the academic term to qualify as a Co-op, and employment must be integral to your program of study.
  • Proper work authorization must be obtained through the Office of International Programs and Services.
  • Minimum Overall GPA Requirements: Undergraduates: 2.0, Graduates: 3.0, Juris Doctor students: 2.33
  • You must have completed one academic year, Fall and Spring semesters, of full-time study and at least one semester at Mason under an F-1 visa status.
  • Complete the Curricular Practical Training Application Form
  • Complete the Co-op Work Agreement and review Cooperative Education policies. Note: Once you accept a position and complete the paperwork, you cannot change your mind and switch to another employer during the same academic period. Weigh all of your options carefully. If you need assistance in negotiating with employers, please call Career Services at 703-993-2370 to inquire about speaking with an Industry Advisor.
  • When using your Curricular Practical Training through enrollment in the Cooperative Education Program, the Work Agreement is part of the application process. (See link directly above). 
  • Allow enough time for the employer to review and complete the Work Agreement when considering your deadlines.

    Submit your offer letter, position description, completed Work Agreement and Curricular Practical Training form to Debbie Zuiker in University Career Services for signatures. Pay the Co-op fee of $25 in Career Services.  (Cash or check only.)

    After meeting with Debbie Zuiker, return to OIPS with your documents to obtain the work authorization on your I-20. Authorizations may possibly take up to 2 weeks.

  • We will request that you complete some mid-semester feedback, and an evaluation at the end of your work experience. Your co-op or internship will be noted on your transcript.
  • Schedule an appointment with Debbie Zuiker when all of your forms are completely filled out. Partially completed forms will not be accepted.  Contact Debbie at 703-993-2365 or email for appointment.

  • Spring 2016 deadline is February 26, 2016--All paperwork for CPT and Co-op enrollment must be submitted to Career Services and Office of International Programs and Services by this date.   


Find a Job or Internship

The Job Search: tips for finding employers who hire international students
  • Passport Career - Use Passport Career to find jobs and internships in over 75 countries across the globe, including the United States. Passport Career features an H-1B database with 300,000+ employer profiles for U.S. job searches. Note: The password for Passport Career is located in the document section of HireMason.
  • HireMason - Set up a search agent in HireMason and select your work authorization to identify employers who are hiring international students.
  • Networking - Networking means developing relationships through in-person meetings and/or social situations. Reach out to your friends, family members, faculty, and alumni to see if they are aware of any employers who have worked with international students in the past. Learn tips for networking.
Overcoming challenges when searching for a job in the US

For international students, finding employment in the United States can be challenging for several reasons. The best way to overcome these barriers is preparation. Some challenges you may face can include:

  • Lack of confidence - Some students may not understand or feel confident about the job search process in the U.S. Attend University Career Services events and talk to a career counselor or industry advisor for advice about the U.S. job search. Know your skills and strengths, and be prepared to demonstrate with confidence why you are a competitive candidate for the position.   
  • Language barriers - Because English is typically a second language for most international students, they may not feel comfortable with their speaking or writing abilities. Enroll in a course through the English Language Institute to practice your speaking skills. Go to the Writing Center to have your papers or written documents critiqued.
  • Explaining your VISA status -International students may have some anxiety around when to reveal their visa status to and employer. Before revealing your visa status to an employer, educate yourself on the process of hiring an international student so that you may inform a potential employer. Meet with OIPS to determine your eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Interviewing Effectively

Interviewing for a position in the U.S. can be very different than in your home country. If you would like to practice your interview skills, schedule a practice interview with a Career Counselor or use InterviewStream to practice on your own.

A few tips to help you prepare for your interview
  • Arrive on Time: Try to arrive five to ten minutes early for your interview. If you are going to be late, make sure to call your interviewer.
  • Give a Firm Handshake: First impressions are important during an interview. One of the first impressions you will make with an interviewer is through your handshake. A firm handshake can communicate confidence and enthusiasm. 
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer: In the U.S., maintaining eye contact with an interviewer conveys confidence and trustworthiness. 
  • Be aware of illegal interview questions: It is illegal for employers to ask questions about your age, religion, politics, sexual orientation, disability, race, sex, or marital status. 
  • Self-promotion is expected: In some cultures, it is considered inappropriate or rude to talk about yourself. In the U.S., employers expect you to talk about your accomplishments, skills and talents.

International Students