“American Brain Drain = Global Gain: International MBA students in the USA”
As an MBA Career Counselor, working at the Robinson College of Business, at GSU, I can personally attest to this disparity between employment needs and hiring practices. I am on the front-lines of graduate recruitment and candidate selection. Currently, our team of Career Counselors represent 7,600 business students at the largest business college in the Southeastern United States.
There seems to be a disconnect between attracting International students to study in American Universities and then retaining this talent, upon graduation. For instance, in some of the business majors which there is a preponderance of International students. However, when employers recruit for graduates, they often specify American or Permanent Resident only. Thus, eliminating much of applicant pool, and perpetuating skilled-labor shortages.
From mid-August to late November, each year, all Business Schools in the USA experience their peak recruiting season. This year, I decided to conduct an informal survey of employers and International students to gauge the current hiring climate. Note: this is not a scientifically validated experiment, just an informal survey. Interestingly, my results seem to mirror the national perceptions of the current labor market.
I asked employers: “Are you planning to hire and do you hire international students?”
Here are some of the common answers, I received from employers.
“I don’t know much about international students and hiring.” #1 most common answer
“Our National policy is to hire American Citizens of Permanent residents.” Tie for #1 most common answer
“We use the interns as part of our candidate pipeline and only want locals. The international students can only work for a year, and their visa’s isn’t secure.”
“We have a huge shortage of staff in certain business majors and can’t find candidates”
“We comply with all current labor laws and fair hiring practices”
“I didn’t’ think international students were eligible for internships? How does that work?”
“We prefer to hire locals, for our National operations.”
Some employers, told me discretely, that they understand the issues, but cannot hire International students, in this political climate.
I also asked my international students to “tell me about their job-search experiences.”
“Frustrating, every time I go to an interview I am hopeful. Then, they tell me they can’t hire me due to my Visa status.” #1 most common answer.
“I had a local internship and it was great, but never got a job offer.”
“I have been called in and interviewed 4 times, in the last 2 weeks. Each time they found me, since my GPA is so high. But then, in the interview, they said they cannot help me.”
“The majority of students in my class are International. We would love to work here, but can’t get jobs.”
“I didn’t’ get any call backs for interviews”
“Our American classmates, get 4 or 5 offers. What happens to the jobs they don’t take?”
Based on this informal survey, Career Professionals will need to do a better job of educating employers about why and how to hire International students. We can help simplify what at first glance, appears to be a complex and convoluted process. Also, we need to help International students understand the challenges of their job search, whether locally of globally. A well-researched career action plan, plus a Plan B and C are a must in theses challenging times.
Again, to quote the New York Times: "the United States will struggle to compete, if it cannot more easily hire foreign-born professionals."