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An Accounting Job Search Strategy for the International Student

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

In my experience, the most important thing you need to consider when looking for a job in the U.S. as a foreigner is how to work here legally. International students looking for part-time work are allowed to work no more than 20 hours a week to maintain F-1 visa. After graduation, to stay in the United States, one must find an employer willing to sponsor your working visa (called an H-1B visa).

I came to the U.S. last August from China, and am enrolled in a master of accounting program at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Like other international students in a completely new place, I initially felt hopeless as to where to start my job search. I began searching recruiting websites, but found that these websites aren’t as helpful for students without experience.

Another method I tried was to take advantage of all the resources my school offered, including a career center. These often offer more entry-level opportunities. You can often find networking opportunities through career centers as well.

I was honored to act as the president of the student chapter of IMA® at my university in my first semester and actively took part in the events held by the local professional chapter every month. During this time, I not only got to know some professionals but also got an understanding about business culture in the U.S. – a great help in my job hunting.

In my second semester, I secured my first unpaid internship with a nonprofit organization located in Washington, DC. At the same time, I volunteered to help prepare tax returns. These experiences helped build up my résumé and enhanced my communication skills. Likewise, for those international students who do not have any working experience, it might be a good start to focus on volunteer opportunities and unpaid internships. Nonprofit and international institutions are more willing to sponsor foreign students since they know the process quite well. For those who work in companies that are hesitant to sponsor your working visa, try talking with your supervisor or the HR department to explain that the visa sponsorship process is simple.

This past summer, through on-campus recruiting, I was offered a challenging internship with a government contractor. After spending the summer there, I gained a deeper understanding of accounting issues on daily basis and had more responsibilities.

In addition to adding professional experience to my résumé, I was also looking to strengthen my academic background and social skills, which included passing the CMA® exam and becoming more involved with IMA. I will also attend the 11th annual IMA Student Leadership Conference in California this November. Currently, I am working as an intern at a financial institution which has relationships with banks in China. In addition to assuming some financial and accounting responsibilities, I will also be involved in projects aimed at the Chinese market.

Thanks to my former experience, I got used to my new position quickly and was able to perform my work with minimal supervision. The company even expressed their willingness to sponsor me for the H-1B when I graduate. This shows how it is very useful to rely on your educational and professional background and seek out job opportunities with links to your home country.

Hate Your Job a Little Extra Today? There’s At Least One Recent Accounting Grad That Will Gladly Take Your Place

Okay gang, we know this is a tough day. You quietly wept to yourself on your commute; you’re recovering from sunburns, hangovers and meat sweats. It’s an all-around bitch of a Tuesday. It’s bad enough that your weekends are ruined by your job but now your holidays have to be ruined too? We’d suggest doing away with holidays altogether but then all work and no play makes accountants duller than normal.

But you trudge on, capital market servant. You trudge. A lot of readers recite “I’m thankful to have a job in this economy” mantra which makes some of you sick. Whether your nausea at their grateful attitude is justified is a matter of debate but let it be known, there are people out there that would take that job that you detest with all your heart and soul at the drop of a hat:

Melanie Singer has been preparing for the job market ever since she entered college at the University of Dayton, a private Catholic school in Ohio.

Starting in her freshman year, she began working with a career counselor. She attended networking events, did three internships while in school full-time, and worked with a recruiter to help connect her with jobs.

Singer, 22, got good grades, studied abroad and even chose a degree — accounting — that was supposed to give her one of the best chances of finding work.

“Everything you read, accounting was in the top five positions to get a job in,” Singer says.

But while she was in school, the economy tanked. Today’s job market is worse than it’s been in at least a generation.

Singer can’t remember how many websites or companies she’s applied to — she began sending out resumes at the beginning of her senior year. A month after commencement, she still hasn’t found a job.

We certainly agree with “everything you read” statement. You’d be hard pressed to find a MSM list of any sort that places accounting or accounting firms in a negative light as it relates to a career choice. Maybe the accounting scene has taken a turn for the worse in the Buckeye State and she needs to venture out?

Whatever the problems in Ohio, it sounds like Ms Singer spent most of her college days practicing for job interviews rather than the traditional co-ed activities and yet has had a serious run of bad luck finding a job. This is unfortunate and we know that there are plenty of Ohio accountants out there that probably wouldn’t mind an extended vacation. So if you find yourself hating life a little bit more than usual today, perhaps you’d consider taking one for the team so Ms Singer can fulfill her dream of joining the workforce.

Accounting Grad Didn’t Figure On Job Rejections [NPR]

Newsflash: Accounting Candidates Are Stalked

In what should come as no surprise, social media and its effect on the job market continues to be a conversational presser. The topic is often discussed by nobodies (like myself) in online environments like Twitter and blogs (here’s looking at you, GC), but as the topic shifts from the Wild West of the Internet blog-o-sphere and into dinner conversation circles, CNN is jumping on the topic.

CNN’s article expanded on a recent study by Microsoft that “found that 79 percent of United States hiring managers and job recruiters surveyed reviewed online information about job applicants. In fact, 70 percent of United States hiring managers in the study say they have rejected candidates based on what they found.”

You read that correctly – 79 percent of recruiters and hiring managers Google stalk their candidates. If this was a toothpaste study, that’d be 4 out of 5 dentists. Convincing, right?

As busy season winds down and the itch to test the job market becomes irresistible, what should you do? Many of the people interviewed in CNN’s piece changed their Facebook profile names to be something other than their first and last names. This is all fine and dandy except for the fact that profiles can still be searched by email address, employer and school networks, and geographical location. So yeah, switching your name from Jay Smith to Jay Tizzy is great until your recruiter types the email address on top of your resume into Facebook and finds your page.

What should you do? I covered the importance of Facebook etiquette a few weeks back (refresher can be found here), and I can’t stress how important it is to take advantage of their privacy settings. Once you set them accordingly you should test them out yourself. Log out of Facebook, Google yourself, and click on the search result that is for your public profile. What you’re able to see this way is exactly what your recruiter or potential new boss is limited to.

Pictures of last weekend’s rager? Probably not a good idea. Tighten up your security settings until you’re satisfied with how you’re represented online.