Why the job search is difficult for international students

  • Life at Now
  • Careers
  • Jenny Nyunt
  • 2022
April 08, 2022

Job search: 3 early-career international students

This is part one of a three-blog series exploring what it’s like to find work as an international early-career employee.

“Do you require sponsorship now or in the future?” We’ve all had to answer this question on a job application. If you answer yes, there’s a good chance the company will discard your application. If you answer no but do require sponsorship, you’ll be lying. But you might get the job.

This simple question has terrified thousands of international students across the United States, including myself—a Burmese early-career professional who lived in Myanmar my entire life. Many companies in the US don’t have the resources or willingness to bring in international early-career talent, which means fewer work opportunities for people in my shoes.

Let’s explore why that is and its impact on international students.

Societal and time constraints

Bhavana S., a third-year student majoring in business and communications at Northeastern University, took a leap of faith as an international student from India by applying to the ServiceNow co-op program. She was accepted and works on the Americas campaigns team, helping to drive and grow the company’s integrated global marketing campaigns.

Unlike ServiceNow, a lot of companies "were not willing to give me a chance from the very beginning,” Bhavana says, due to her name’s implication that she’s not a US citizen. Once a company saw that she was from India and would need sponsorship to work, the system the company used to filter job applications might automatically kick her out of the process.

“ServiceNow didn’t judge me before getting to know me,” she shares.

ServiceNow didn’t judge me before getting to know me. Bhavana S., AMS Campaigns Co-op, ServiceNow


Dena R., an employee communications and engagement co-op at ServiceNow, faced similar challenges in her job search. As a Thai citizen, Dena, like other internationals, has 12 months to work in the US during her college years.

This time restriction means international students must be selective and careful with the work experiences they pursue. Dena searched with the “hope that the six-month co-op I chose would lead to more open doors in the future,” she says.

This same sentiment applies to thousands of international students seeking job opportunities each year.

The importance of inclusion

“There are companies out there, like ServiceNow, that value your unique talents and don't discriminate or look past internationals,” Bhavana points out. Despite having fewer opportunities than her peers as an international student, she was able to stay positive because of that—and people in her life who believed in her and were willing to advocate on her behalf.

I knew instantly that I wanted to work at a place where everyone is welcomed and celebrated. Dena R., Employee Communications and Engagement Co-op, ServiceNow


ServiceNow’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging is what caught Dena’s eye during her job search. She discovered ServiceNow’s multiple Belonging Groups and hoped she would one day get to meet the leaders of the Asian and Pacific Islander at Now community. “I knew instantly that I wanted to work at a place where everyone is welcomed and celebrated,” she says.

After joining ServiceNow, Dena got her wish. “The API members greeted me with open arms,” she adds.

Professional development

The six-month work experience at ServiceNow has helped both Bhavana and Dena develop their leadership skills. It’s also paved the way for their personal growth. Find out more about that personal and professional growth in the next blog in this series.

We’re hiring. Explore early careers at ServiceNow.

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