Jobs, Internships and Volunteering in the U.S.

1. How can I get a job on campus?

If you received a financial aid award that included a Work-Study position budget, please follow the instructions emailed to you from the Financial Aid Office to accept your Work-Study Award after your admission to W&L. You will need to accept your Work-Study award before you can apply for Work-Study positions. The Financial Aid Office will accept a scanned copy of your Signature Authorization Form emailed to financialaid@wlu.edu. I encourage you to apply for positions early in order to secure your preferred assignment. As an international student, you are not eligible to work off-campus, so please do not apply for jobs that are located off-campus. If you were not offered Work-Study as part of your financial aid package but still want to work, you will learn more about the process at International Student Orientation. 

2. Can I get a job off-campus?

International students are not authorized to work off-campus unless approved for Practical Training. You can refer to the Career and Professional Development (CPD) international students page for more website for futher information about how to find internship and job oppurtunities in the U.S. Information about both types of Practical Training (Curricular Practical Training) and (Optional Practical Training) are provided below in the FAQ.

Check out the CPD career fellows page to see a listing of fellow W&L students who can help you best make of use CPD services. You can also email careers@wlu.edu for more info.

3. What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)?

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) allows F-1 visa students to participate in internships (paid or unpaid) that are directly related to the student's major and must either be for academic credit or a major requirement. All declared students at W&L are eligible for CPT. The Practical Training guide provides an overview of CPT and how to obtain CPT authorization for both undergraduate and law students. 

4. What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 visa students to work for 12 months in the U.S. in a job or internship experience related to their majors. Students may choose to use this time immediately after graduation. In addition, STEM majors may qualify for a 24 month extension of OPT. The CIE has created a complete Overview of Optional Practical Training (pdf) for your reference, which includes a list of all STEM OPT eligible majors at W&L. 

5. How many hours per week can I work?

For on-campus jobs, your F-1 visa allows students to work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) while classes are in session and full-time (40 hours per week) while on official university breaks (e.g. fall break, winter break, summer break, etc.). For off-campus job, students may work part-time or full-time while on CPT or OPT. 

6. What resources are available to help me find jobs and internships in the U.S.?

The Career and Professional Development (CPD) office provides career development advising to international students. CPD provides employment guides and alumni contact information specially created for international students - Search Handshake's Resource library for "Resources for International Students." In addition, CPD and the CIE partner to present programs, including, International Student Career Day (which is offered every year).

7. What is the difference between employment, volunteering, and unpaid internships? 

Even if you aren't being paid for an internship or other activity you may be considered an employee according to U.S. government labor and immigration laws. This is very important to understand, because international students must receive authorization to work off-campus. Working off-campus without employment authorization is a violation of your visa status. The CIE and CPD offices collaborated to create a guide to help you understand these important distinctions.