A conversation on international student careers

A conversation on international student careers

International Education International students Jobs

Last week I hosted a Twitter discussion about international student careers by hopping onto #IEW2015. The hashtag had a flurry of activity all week with over 1000 posts by international educators. Most of the content focused on study abroad initiatives and the results of the Open Doors report. My goal was to move the discussion from a focus on international student recruiting to best practices in international student success, specifically on careers.

Though the discussion was rather quiet compared to other discussions on the hashtag, there hasn’t been a better time to start talking about international student careers. With a ten percent increase in international students in the 2014/15 year, higher education has a lot of catching up to do to meet international student needs. Karin Fischer, an international reporter from the Chronicle summed it up best:

Below are a few ideas on how to better improve international student career outcomes, common barriers to the US job search, and how internationalize the career services office.

You can join a live discussion on international student careers during the interactive webinar on Dec. 10, 7pm EST. Details here.

International Ed Week: Let’s talk about international student success

International Ed Week: Let’s talk about international student success

International Education International students Jobs

There are 1.13 million foreign students in the U.S., the vast majority in college-degree programs… That represents a 14% increase over last year, nearly 50% more than in 2010 and 85% more than in 2005. – International Students Stream into US Colleges

International student growth shows no signs of slowing down in the US. But with that growth comes new expectations from administrations and students alike. A 2014 NAFSA study found that international students identified career services tailored for international students as a best practice. In a fresh-off-the-press more recent study, QS found that “improving employment prospects and progressing on a current career path” were among the top reasons international students apply to grad school. Careers are clearly on our students’ brain. Yet career services staff and international advising professionals do not feel well equipped to provide this high-touch service. Unlike domestic students, the international student job search is not a straight-forward path. Their path is not as simple as submitting a resume and hoping an employer calls. Visa barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and language ability add complications to an international student’s job search. As an international student career coach supported by a stellar university career services team, I work with students on these challenges daily.

So to celebrate International Education Week, I’m launching Advising International Students on Career Opportunities, a virtual professional development workshop designed to help higher education professionals better advise international students on career outcomes.  I’m hosting an interactive webinar on December 10, 7:00 pm EST. You can look forward to a webinar that doesn’t suck! You read that right. No boring, one-way webinars here. Hosted on Crowdcast, you’ll have the opportunity to chat with one another, share your department’s best practices, upvote most common questions, and get answers to your immediate challenges in international student career advising. For free!

You might be a good fit for this course if you are

  • An international student advisor
  • A career services professional who advises international students
  • A dean or provost interested in improving international student retention

By participating, you will be able to

  • Understand the US job search from an international student perspective, including motivations and search process
  • Recognize barriers and opportunities in the international student job search
  • Help international students adapt to specific cultural challenges in the US job search
  • Evaluate current tools for international students in the US job search
  • Advise international students on best practices in their job search, in the US and back home
  • Create an advising framework that works best for your international student population
  • Make department recommendations on how to improve international student career outcomes

After the interactive webinar you will receive 

  • Recording of the video
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Curated resources to support international students in the job search

Length of the webinar

  • 90 minutes with plenty of breaks for Q&A

Ready to sign up?

>>> Click here to go to the Crowdcast platform to RSVP <<<

Here’s a peek at the easy-on-your-eyes slides:

UnderstandingChallenges

InternationalStudentMotivations

InternationalStudentNeeds

What if college majors were designed more like General Assembly programs?

What if college majors were designed more like General Assembly programs?

International Education Marketing

My love affair with General Assembly continues. I’m slightly obsessed with their user experience design program. My love of ethnography, problem solving, and communication has me dreaming of a job in user experience. (true dream job: travel ethnographer). Some day I’ll take a sabbatical from my current dream job and take a GA course. For now I’m window shopping.

When I get an email from General Assembly I click. I click because they’ve got a strong email marketing game. I’m sure I’ve got a mighty fine behavioral score. But I return to their website each time because I know that I’ll find a landing page that answers all my questions: So what’s really going on in this course? How much is it? What will I learn and what can I do when I’m done? 

With an admissions-focused communication and design style, General Assembly nails it. They communicate all the program information a prospective student needs in a single place. Their landing pages are also quite easy on the eyes (hello white space!).

Now compare this experience to university websites. Imagine you’re an eager prospective college student, ready to learn all the things. Take a look at the computer science major at Stanford or MIT’s computer science programs page. As you explore your future major, try finding the cost of their programs or career outcomes. Get a feel for the work students get to do or look up faculty. Can you find that information? If you did, how does the experience feel?

Chances are it feels like a chore. And that’s a shame because both schools have killer courses, rockstar faculty, and plenty off opportunities (including scholarships). Now imagine if those college majors read more like General Assembly programs.

Here’s why GA’s prospective student experience works so well:

Clear Learning Goals

SyllabusGA

No mysteries here. Bold headings tell me exactly what I’ll learn in a clear outline featuring succinct descriptions. Did I mention it’s oh so easy.on.the.eyes?

Financial Aid and Cost

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.04.37 PM

GATuition

Cost is the top factor in college decision making. GA doesn’t hide their program costs and includes the price right alongside the curriculum. I don’t have to play the guess-and-click game to track down the tuition (and ways to pay for it) elsewhere on the site.

Career Tie In with Company and Alumni Spotlights
CareersGA

CareersGA

 

Career prospects are a key enrollment driver for prospective students, right up there with affordability and academics. As a prospective student, I can visualize a future at the end of the program. If I’m feeling extra motivated (and I am because I’ve had to do so little work so far) I can research the companies that hire in this field.

Put simply, the prospective student experience with General Assembly programs is down right enjoyable. I feel excited and motivated when I look at their programs. I’m not burdened with hunting down important decision-making information; it’s all served up in one scrollable, mobile friendly package. The experience makes me return to the program again and again.

Grant it, General Assembly offers career accelerator programs not degrees. Plus Stanford and MIT can kick back and ignore user experience because they have gleaming reputations that seem to make the user experience all but irrelevant. But marketing and communication teams in institutions without shiny brands should take note and adapt accordingly.

Can higher education marketing teams create better, more enjoyable experiences for prospective students? It’s remains to be seen. A recent analysis on the failure of schools to adapt to an admissions focused experience on mobile doesn’t inspire hope. University departments are so siloed that it takes a feat of mental gymnastics to imagine career services sharing a digital space with academic departments. With the cost of a college education now synonymous with crushing debt and delayed life events, higher education marketing teams may cringe at being so up front and center about their tuition cost.

I did find a bit of hope in my search for a university website that creates a positive experience for prospective students: my alma matter, the University of Oregon, gets closer to the GA style with their computer science major page. They could use a few more graphic elements to break up the text blocks. Information about their tuition is only one click away, under a menu clearly labeled “Costs & Financial Aid.”

So maybe there is hope. Maybe higher education just needs more user experience designers.