March 27, 2019
Unlike local students, international students are not legally authorized to work off campus throughout the duration of their studies. The only way to get legal employment is to work on the campus at students’ respective colleges.
Diana Nekrasova is a 20-year-old El Camino College student and a film major from Vladivostok, Russia who managed to find work on campus but said the process has not been easy.
“What’s most important is to make an effort,” Nekrasova said. “The first thing I did was go to the International Student Program (ISP) office for help to find out what I need to be able to work.”
To be able to work in the United States, international students also need to have the required legal documents, such as a Social Security card.
“I submitted my resume at the Bookstore, and a few days later they called me. I was invited for an interview, and the next step was to get a [Social Security Number],” Nekrasova said. “I again went to the ISP office, where I had to arrange for the necessary documents, which I then took to the US Social Security Administration.”
Diana Nekrasova added that the paperwork for the Social Security card takes about two weeks to process, but it took a couple of days for her.
But despite being hired, international students sometimes have to wait a couple of months before starting work.
“I haven’t started working yet, although my interview was a long time ago,” Nekrasova said. “The process of submitting all documents takes a long time and it does not depend on the college.”
Obtaining documents is not the only problem that international students face.
Andrew Nasatir, the assistant director of the campus bookstore said international students often struggle to speak the language.
“Often what happens is a student would come to me and I know they understand me perfectly and I know they can read fine, but their language skills are weak,” Nasatir said. “The advice I give them—please speak with friends [that are] not from your country.”
Nekrasova said that she was very worried before her job interview at the bookstore of El Camino College.
“To speak only English, even with students from your country who also work at the bookstore, was one of the most stringent rules,” Nekrasova said. “I was immediately told this at the interview.”
How to succeed
Caroline Etges, an international student from Brazil and a program assistant at the ISP office said it is important for students to be professional and prepared.
“International students need to first create a resume and then take a copy to different departments on campus asking about available jobs,” Etges said. “To work on campus, student’s GPA needs to be around 3.0, but this is not a strict criterion.”
Nekrasova said that time management has been very important to her and could help other international students who want to work on campus but do not know how to balance employment and academics at the same time.
“International students can work only up to 20 hours a week, and whether it’s easy to combine work and study depends on the person himself,” Nekrasova said. “The main thing for me is to maintain various planners to schedule my affairs for the week ahead. Just learn to plan in advance, and everything will work out for you.”
After a few weeks waiting for all her documents to be processed, Nekrasova now only needs to open a bank account to start her new job.
“I look forward to starting work at our bookstore,” Nekrasova said. “This will be my first work experience in the United States.”