Why your U.S. post-graduation job prospects are better than you think
Written by Katharine Boshkoff, Global Vice President of Career Development, Corporate Relations, and Alumni Relations at Hult. A former strategy consultant and professor, she has coached thousands of students to find career success in global markets.
Are you looking for a job and feeling frustrated? Are you an international student who thinks it’s impossible to find a job in the U.S.? I am here to give you hope.
First, let’s take a macro-economic look at the U.S. In its April report, the U.S. Labor Department featured some good news: the unemployment rate hit 4.5%, the lowest rate in ten years—and it may dip even lower in coming months. Another indicator of healthy economic growth: the GDP is expected to increase by 2.1% this year, which is slightly better than last year, and about the same as two years ago.
Bottom line: the U.S. is in a growth phase, which should buoy your job-seeking spirits. It’s a good idea to focus on the industries growing faster than others (more on that below), but it’s also advisable to keep an eye on the digital and technological trends that are poised to cause disruption across multiple industries (more on that, too).
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The driving force of entrepreneurship
Apart from the positive economic indicators we have at our disposal, there’s another reason to feel optimistic about job growth in this country.
According to Martin S. Feldstein, a professor of economics at Harvard University, the U.S. possesses 10 characteristics that make it unique compared to other industrial economies. One is that it features a very entrepreneurial culture, where people take on the risk of starting a business, even if it means “failing and starting again”. Moreover, “the U.S. has a more developed system of equity finance than the countries of Europe, including angel investors willing to finance startups and a very active venture capital market that helps finance the growth of those firms.”
You don’t have to start your own company to benefit from the ecosystem of entrepreneurship that plays an integral role in the U.S. But you do have to be willing to “go with the flow” if you’re an international student or expat; industries and job functions will only continue to innovate at a faster and faster clip. Be prepared to move quickly and deal with uncertainty and ambiguity.
“You have to be willing to “go with the flow” if you’re an international student or expat…Be prepared to move quickly and deal with uncertainty and ambiguity.”
Harness your inner entrepreneur
My team and I at Hult International Business School have been counseling students on their job searches for several years. While we can’t make any promises, we can make this guarantee: if you invest the time and effort in your search as if it were your job, you will position yourself for success. Don’t just ask that a potential employer invest in you; invest in yourself, too.
In terms of shaping your search strategy, consider the three main components of a job: industry, job function, and location. You can have two, but it is very tough to have all three. Choose wisely.
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Fast growing industries in the U.S.
A quick internet search will turn up various reports about the fastest growing industries for 2017. For example, Forbes reports that Sageworks, a financial information company, compiled data showing that “Computer Systems Design and Related Services” is in the #1 spot, while construction-related industries take up spots #2-#8.
CareerOneStop, on the other hand (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor), rates the 50 fastest growing industries based on ten-year growth, from 2014 to 2024. The top spot on this list is specialty hospitals, followed by home health care services.
Different publications and organizations will slice data differently, so I recommend doing your research and investigating the methodology a report uses. The important thing is to pay attention to patterns. Which industries do you keep seeing in the top 10?
“Pay attention to patterns. Which industries do you keep seeing in the top 10?”
Fastest Growing Tech Industries
A lot of the students come to Hult every year because they are interested in working in tech, even if the job function they seek isn’t of a technical nature.
Right now, two tech fields are doing more than just well—they’re experiencing full-scale disruption. Kurt Schlosser’s GeekWire article on a recent salary report by job tech site Dice.com identifies them as cloud technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).
When an industry experiences disruption, it sparks a chain reaction: employee demand goes up, and that in turn nudges up salaries, which is good news for new business graduates.
When it comes to cloud and IoT-related jobs, the next question is “what are the market hotspots where demand is taking place?”
According to the Dice salary survey, the top ten markets are:
1. Silicon Valley
3. San Diego
5. Los Angeles
6. New York
If you’re not bound by geographic considerations, cast your net wide. If there’s a city or state you want to land in one day, know that as you work hard and gain experience, you make it more possible to dictate where you end up. For now, take advantage of the hot spots where employers are hiring.
“There are a lot more myths floating around about how it’s much harder for international students to find jobs in the U.S. Don’t fall for them.”
Don’t fall prey to myths
This year, more than any other, there are a lot more myths floating around about how it’s much harder for international students to find jobs in the U.S. Don’t fall for them. Here’s a quick recap of common misconceptions.
Myth 1: The U.S. has eliminated Occupational Practical Training (OPT).
Busted: No change.
Myth 2: U.S. companies won’t hire non-Americans.
Busted: The growth of U.S. capitalism depends on top talent, and as I mentioned above, the economy is growing at a healthy clip. We’re seeing more employers coming to Hult to hire than ever before. This month alone, 150 employers will have been on campus to recruit students. Employers need talent.
“We’re seeing more employers coming to Hult to hire than ever before. This month alone, 150 employers will have been on campus to recruit students. Employers need talent.”
Myth 3: U.S. Borders are closed.
Busted: No. Additionally, the much promoted “Wall” between US and Mexico has yet to receive US congressional budget support.
Myth 4: H1B was cancelled or changed by Trump Executive Order
Busted: Changes to H1B are subject to congressional legislation and there has not been any change by lawmakers. Due to misinformation and confusion about actual H1B status, 2017 H1B applications were actually down for the first time in years. What this means is that if you applied in April, you have better odds than ever before of winning a visa in the lottery.
It’s my job to arm students with the tools and knowledge they need to find jobs. Employers need talent to grow and highly skilled international talent is in demand. If you’re feeling frustrated, shake it off. If you’re feeling worried, take a deep breath and let it go. Companies of all sizes are growing and thriving—even if they’re not making headlines! So don’t give up, have hope, and get to work on your resume.
Katharine Boshkoff is Global Vice President of Career Development, Corporate Relations, and Alumni Relations. A former strategy consultant and professor, she has coached thousands of students to find career success in global markets.
Follow Katharine on LinkedIn for more insights and tips on global employment trends, international job-search strategy, and working abroad.
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