I Wish I Knew, Part 1: How to Find Your First Campus Job for F1/J1 Students

Asian woman playing with her laptop at home.

Welcome to a new series of blog posts called, #IWishIKnew. It’s about international students helping each other and sharing the useful advice they needed when starting their U.S. education. Think back to your first day in the U.S. — imagine if someone had been there to tell you:

  • How to find an on-campus job
  • How to prepare for interviews
  • How to set-up your first U.S. bank account
  • The importance of building a credit history

Today, we’ll share how to find your first campus job as a student on an F1/J1 visa.

1. Be Responsible for Everything
If you’re on a F1/J1 visa, you can apply for on-campus jobs while enrolled in a degree program at your school. Although these jobs don’t need to be in your major, you must maintain F1/J1 status while working. Generally speaking, your total work hours cannot exceed 20 hours per week during a school term. You may, however, work full-time during periods when school is not in session or during breaks. You can work while attending classes as well as other requirements such as your course load. Make sure you’re aware of all deadlines and paperwork required for you to accept a job. As always, we recommend reaching out to the international student office at your campus for more specific information on forms or authorizations required for international students to accept work.

2. Apply Early
Start considering your work options immediately, even if you’re still waiting for your visa to be approved. Google search: “[your school] student employment.” Experiment by adding different department names to your search. If you’re already in the U.S., visit your international student office and the departments to which you’re applying and introduce yourself. Put together a resume (that you have edited multiple times) and remember to bring 2 or 3 paper copies with you when you visit.

Job board

3. Organize Your Contacts
Collect emails, phone numbers, and other contact information for the international student office, as well as each place you would like to apply. Manage all this information in a note on your phone for easy access.

Screenshot note job apps

Every job has unique application instructions. Some jobs require online forms while some request resumes via email—make sure you follow these exactly. Follow up politely after a week if you still haven’t received a response. Remember: it’s summer and some of these departments are operating at reduced hours or may be closed for long periods of time.

4. Aim High and Stay Flexible
A job in your field of study will be harder to find as a new student. Look for jobs as research or teaching assistants in your field, but always apply to multiple jobs to keep your options open. There’s so much work to do on every campus, including non-academic administrative jobs. Any work experience can be an excellent stepping stone to your next job.

If you have information you want to share with your fellow students or if you have questions of your own, send them to [email protected] with “I Wish I Knew” in the subject line and we’ll get them answered. Check out the links below and we’ll see you next time!

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SelfScore offers a credit card for international students that does not require a security deposit or SSN to apply and has a $0 annual fee. Learn more at selfscore.com/mastercard.

The link below offers excellent general advice for international student job seekers. Note: not all of this information may apply to you or your campus. Always seek details from your employer and student office. On-Campus Employment for F-1/J-1 Students