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The critical role of the career centre: Clarkson University’s commitment to international students’ professional success

Within the vibrant community of students that call Clarkson University home, international students play a crucial role in shaping the University’s international identity. As these learners embark on their academic journeys with a view to their professional future, one resource stands out as essential for their professional growth — the Clarkson University Career Centre.

The Career Centre at Clarkson is not only a hub for job listings and resume reviews; it is a central resource for international students navigating the complexity of career development in a new country. With an increasingly globalised job market, the centre recognises the unique challenges international students face and is dedicated to equipping them with the tools and support needed to thrive beyond the classroom.

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Clarkson’s Career and International Centres share an office suite, demonstrating the importance of collaboration on behalf of international students. Source: Clarkson University

A Clarkson education pairs practical experience with a rigorous curriculum, leading to impressive outcomes. The centre’s data show that hands-on experience, such as internships, co-ops and research, positively impacts placement rates and average starting salaries. Among recent alumni, 98% find employment in their chosen field within six months. Starting salaries for bachelor’s earners are US$71,735, and for post-graduate alumni, they are US$90,474.

The mix of undergraduate and graduate degrees available at Clarkson leans heavily on the science, technology and business programmes students want and the job market demands. Clarkson has been a STEM-focused institution since its founding in 1896 and now includes specialised accreditations in engineering (ABET) and business (AACSB). President Marc Christensen often says, “Clarkson knows who it is and why it matters,” highlighting the university’s impact on the career trajectories of alumni and the problem-solving innovations that benefit society.

The Career Centre collaborates closely with Clarkson’s International Centre – in fact, the two centres share a centrally located office suite on campus. The centre’s career fairs in the fall and spring semesters are signature events, bringing more than 200 employers and internship  providers to campus, many with immediately recognisable names like JP Morgan Chase, General Dynamics, and Regeneron. By fostering relationships with companies that value diversity and global perspectives, the Career Centre enhances international students’ chances of securing meaningful employment opportunities in their chosen fields.

One of the key aspects that make the Career Centre indispensable for international students is its commitment to helping students on their intercultural journey. Through specialised workshops and one-on-one counselling, the staff ensure that international students not only understand the intricacies of the American job market but also feel empowered to showcase their unique perspectives and experiences.

“International students bring a wide range of experiences and skills to Clarkson and to their future employers,” says Brian Grant, Vice President of Student Affairs, who oversees both the career and international centres. “We help them spotlight their knowledge and work ethic so employers and internship providers see the benefits of hiring international students. This involves not only understanding the technical aspects of job searching but also navigating cultural nuances.”

The Career Centre places a strong emphasis on skill development. To help students overcome the unique aspects of a US job search, the centre offers tailored workshops on resume writing, interview preparation and professional communication. These workshops go beyond the basics, delving into the nuances of job searching in specific industries and helping students align their skills with market demands.

The Career Centre played a pivotal role for Claudia Bustamante from Peru, a PhD candidate in Environmental Science and Engineering. “As an international student, navigating career fairs and job interviews was something new for me,” she says. “Through the Career Centre’s workshops, and the one-on-one sessions I had with the career coaches, I learned so much — from getting my resume ready to practising for mock interviews until finally landing my dream job.”

Another crucial aspect of the Career Centre’s support is its focus on immigration and work authorisation guidance. International students must grapple with visa regulations and understand the intricacies of Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The Centre works closely with immigration experts to provide accurate and up-to-date information to both students and potential employers to avoid misunderstandings that occasionally crop up.

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Claudia Bustamante attending a career fair in 2023. Source: Clarkson University

As he guides students in master’s and doctoral programmes, Bill Jeffers, Assistant Director of Professional & Alumni Career Services, maintains a list of companies willing to sponsor students for work visas, like the H1B. “While many students return home after their studies, we like to have current information available for those who want to focus their job search on employers that offer a longer-term opportunity in the US,” he notes.

In an increasingly interconnected world, the importance of an international perspective in the workforce cannot be overlooked. Employers are actively seeking candidates who bring a global mindset, and Clarkson University’s Career Centre understands this demand. Their work has not gone unnoticed; Princeton Review ranks Clarkson among the top 25 Best Career Services and top 20 Best Alumni Networks in the country.

Clarkson University’s award-winning Career Centre empowers international students to navigate the complexities of the American job market confidently. Through cultural inclusivity, skill development, immigration guidance, and industry-specific opportunities, the career centre becomes a source of strength for international students, guiding them towards success in their academic and professional endeavours.

To learn more about the programmes available at Clarkson, click here.

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