Hiring began last week to fill a permanent new position for an all-purpose career advocate for international students based in the Global Brown Center, replacing a more limited pilot version of that role in place last year.
The new coordinator will provide resources around professional development, career opportunities and visas to international students.
Associate Dean for International Students Asabe Poloma said that she was excited about the progression of the search. “Within three days of posting, we’ve received over thirty applications, and this is picking up really fast,” she said.
This position contributes to the University’s efforts to address challenges faced by international students in their search for work in the US after graduation.
This role had its roots in a position staffed last year by Divya Mehta ’18. The University was looking to improve programs for job-seeking international students; Mehta had, in her own words, “been there, done that.” She focused on “clearing misinformation about what international students will go through when they try to get a job in the US, particularly when they no longer have the F-1 permission after a year or after three years.”
Mehta has since left the US for the London School of Economics because she had difficulty finding a sponsor for a visa for a different job.
“Had it not been for the successful year we had last year” with Mehta, the Global Brown Center would not have been so eager to continue this role, Poloma said.
Some University international undergraduates feel the need for enhanced advising capabilities around careers for internationals in America.
The unwillingness of many American companies to hire and sponsor visas for workers from abroad frustrates Aanya Parikh ’21. “I’ve not been able to apply for a variety of different opportunities just because they are not okay with my international student status. I believe that if I do not get sponsorship for my H-1B work visa I may not be able to stay back/work in the US,” she wrote in an email to The Herald.
Parikh, who initially planned to double concentrate in Applied Mathematics and Economics, was delayed in switching to her preferred concentrations of International Relations and Economics because she did not fully grasp which classes contributed to a STEM visa extension.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Xu ’20 found it difficult to know which college office to visit for help finding employment and found herself relying overwhelmingly on the internet. “It would be helpful if we were reached out to by the school, maybe during the (International Mentoring Program) period, during orientation or sometime freshman year. Just to walk us through what are some of the STEM majors, and then what are the implications of doing a STEM major as opposed to a non-STEM major,” Xu added. She said that she would also appreciate hearing from international alums about the paths they took after college.
The new coordinator will reach out to students earlier in their college careers to address that common concern, Poloma said.
Poloma has a personal interest in facilitating international students’ U.S. job application; while studying as both an undergraduate and graduate student in the US, she was an international student on an F-1 visa.
She recalls “applying to more jobs than I even care to remember, and just how discouraging and utterly demoralizing that process was.” She hopes that the newest member of the Global Brown team will make the transition to working life in the US less difficult for international students.
Poloma suggested the new coordinator may also enhance the lives of members of the broader University community. One of the goals of the position is to “support Brown faculty, staff and other students in terms of cultural competency and really thinking about the global assets that we have as a community, including our international students, and how we can leverage that so that our campus climate is inclusive,” she said.