Optional Practical Training (OPT) & Work Authorization

International students at Amherst College on an F-1 student visa should become familiar with the unique circumstances that allow them to work and intern in the U.S. and the strategies for seeking and obtaining the types of opportunities that interest you.

International Student FAQ: OPT, CPT & H-1B Visa: Summary of the different types of work authorization international students may need to intern and/or work in the U.S.

International Student FAQ: Seeking Internships & Jobs in the U.S.: Discussion of strategies for seeking and obtaining opportunities in the U.S., including: 1) How to determine whether certain employers hire international students in Quest and other resources 2) How and when to discuss your work authorization status with employers, and 3) How to highlight the positive aspects of your internationalism in your applications.

Career Development Cycle for International Students: Checklist of what you can do in each of the four stages of the career development cycle: Reflect, Explore, Experiment, & Act, including unique steps for international students.

Connecting With Alumni

Amherst College alumni are a wonderful resource for international students, and you should make it a priority to connect with alumni during your four years as a student. They can offer information on career fields you are considering, advice on how to make the best of your Amherst College experience, and tips on finding opportunities. If you develop a positive, strong relationship with alumni, they may even be willing to advocate on your behalf for certain opportunities that might otherwise be difficult to obtain as international students.

The Alumni Directory and the Pathways mentoring program are two wonderful ways to connect with alumni. Read the handout Connecting with Alumni or meet with a career advisor to discuss networking before you reach out.

International Alumni 

If you would like to connect specifically with alumni who were international students while at Amherst, you have two options:

  • Alumni Directory: Use the Career Affinity Network dropdown menu to search for Alumni Network International Students.
  • LinkedIn: Join the LinkedIn subgroup International Students & Alumni. You must first join the group Amherst College Alumni & Friends in order to gain access. Both groups are open to all students and alumni.
Advice from International Alumni

In 2013, the Career Center surveyed some recent alumni who were international students at Amherst in order to learn more about their experiences in the job search process. Read their responses to questions like:

  • How have potential employers responded to your status as an international applicant?
  • What skills and experiences do you offer that set you apart from American employees?
  • What is the most important piece of advice about the U.S. job search that you have for current international students?

Other Resources

Common Cultural Barriers to the Job Search: If you do not feel entirely comfortable or familiar with U.S. work-related cultural values and expectations, read this handout about some of the cultural expectations U.S. employers may have.

Funding sources for international students: List of scholarships for international students for both undergraduate and post-graduate studies.

Opportunities for International Students: List of fellowships and other opportunities for which international students are eligible.

Laura Litwiller, Associate Director for Career Advising: For general questions about how OPT and STEM relate to finding internships and jobs.

Rebecca Counter, International Student Coordinator: For specific questions related to your F-1 visa, OPT, and CPT and to apply for work authorization and STEM extensions. General questions about H-1B visas.

Dan Berger, Immigration Attorney at Curran & Berger, LLC: For more complicated immigration matters or for assistance explaining various forms of work authorization to your potential employer.