Seize Your Superpower
International students bring a wealth of wisdom and life experience to UCSB from across the globe. As an international student, you have access to services that help you discover options for your career, gain experience to prepare for the future, get hired for internships and jobs, and explore graduate school for further education.
Career Services supports you in uncovering your career goals throughout your journey at UCSB. Whether you are seeking assistance with planning for work opportunities within the U.S. or beyond, we are here to help.
Key Campus Resources @ UCSB
Provided by the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) for currently enrolled students.
Gain Experience: International Students
For complete information on internships, student jobs, research opportunities, extracurriculars, and more, review our starter tips to Gain Experience in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.
As an international student, you should start as early as possible when seeking experience during your time at UCSB. Thinking about your current career goals as they relate to your major can greatly help you determine which kinds of experience are best for you to pursue. For instance, if you plan to further your education by attending graduate school, you could enhance your application materials with research, volunteer, and leadership experience. If you are planning to apply for full-time positions in industry after you graduate, internships and relevant academic or personal projects could help you build and showcase your skills.
We encourage you to look beyond well-known or “brand name” organizations and explore various employers that are willing to hire international students. The “best” experience is usually the one that is the best fit for you; experience is not necessarily better quality if it is paid or if it is with a more recognizable organization.
Find experiences that allow you to develop your interpersonal communication and technical skills, as well as learn more about the jobs and fields you are interested in.
Types of Experience: On-Campus
There are several ways that you can gain valuable experience as an international student at UCSB. Click the following items for tips and suggested examples.
In addition to the general communication skills and social engagement that international students gain by participating in any campus organization, international students can benefit from getting involved with the International Students Association (ISA) or other student organizations that are identity-based, professional, and academic-related.
If you are looking for academic experience related to your major, review our Research page to learn how you can get involved in academic research. A particularly useful strategy can be conducting your own independent research through 196 or 199 courses to develop skills and experience related to your major. These types of experiences are highly beneficial if you are considering graduate or professional school.
To obtain an employment opportunity and gain a better cultural understanding of the United States workplace, another great way to gain experience can be to apply for part-time jobs on-campus. Review our Student Jobs page for complete details.
Graduate students can seek out on-campus opportunities through a variety of methods. For Teaching Assistant positions, review GradPost and reach out directly to Graduate Program Advisors for the departments in which you are interested. Additionally, review the UCSB Jobs website for staff positions, UCSB Recruit website for academic positions, and Handshake for student positions.
Types of Experience: Off-Campus
In addition to on-campus positions, there are various off-campus positions that you may want to pursue, with specific considerations as an international student.
Internships help you become a strong candidate for jobs after graduation by providing you with the opportunity to understand the United States workforce and gain industry knowledge. Visit OISS’s Student Employment webpages to understand the requirements for international student employment including, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 students and Academic Training (AT) for J-1 students.
Unpaid internships for F-1 students: Unpaid internships off-campus must be related to your major and require Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization from OISS for F-1 Students. Please visit OISS to obtain the CPT application. It is important to understand that there is a difference between an unpaid internship vs. a volunteer role; unpaid internships do not usually qualify as “volunteer” experience. Internships, both paid and unpaid, are primarily offered by the private sector and must be related to the intern’s major field of study. The United States Department of Labor has set specific guidelines for those seeking an unpaid internship in the Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act fact sheet.
Paid internships for F-1 students: During your academic program as an F-1 international student, you are eligible to participate in a paid internship off-campus, but it must be related to your major, require the need to earn academic credit, and receive Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization from OISS. Please visit OISS to obtain the CPT application. After the completion of your academic degree, you are eligible to participate in a paid internship on- or off-campus, but it must be related to your major and requires OPT authorization from USCIS.
J-1 Students may participate in pre-completion Academic Training. For more information, visit OISS’s Employment Page for J-1 Students.
Consider volunteer positions as an excellent way to gain transferable skills, especially if you are trying to build your resume toward an internship.
Volunteer experience off-campus is allowed if you are donating your time to an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without remuneration or any other type of compensation. Examples of these include volunteering at an animal shelter, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, or any other non-profit groups that do not pay for volunteer services. International students are free to engage in volunteer work as long as it meets the above criteria.
Please talk to OISS for further information about participating in an unpaid volunteer experience.