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Council Post: 3 Strategies For Businesses To Recruit International Students

Anthony Rotoli is the CEO of Terra Dotta, a leader in global education engagement solutions.


From the Great Resignation to the Great Attrition, business leaders are facing heightened talent and skills gaps. Fortunately, the United States is seeing a rise in students coming from other countries to study and work here. This is prompting many companies to hire international students for internship positions and post-graduation job openings.

An Institute of International Education survey found that two-thirds of higher education institutions are reporting an increase in international student applicants. This is in line with the findings from my company’s State of Globalization in Higher Ed research report—45% of institutions have seen an increase in international applications compared to pre-Covid figures.

To keep up with the increased demand, there are several ways company leaders can prioritize international hiring effectively.

Prioritize Diversity, Equity And Inclusion

When international students apply to colleges in other countries, their families want to ensure they’re going to a safe and welcoming place. As America’s talent pool becomes more diversified, domestic companies can benefit by prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts so international hires feel like welcomed members of the team. Providing access to an array of programs, as well as support from co-workers and supervisors who speak different languages and understand different cultures, is another way to support international students as they move into their professional careers.

Consider establishing minority employee networks for international student interns and hires to have a place where they can build relationships with other global employees. In addition to these networks, businesses should ensure they have an overall DEI strategy and drive awareness around objectives throughout the company. Some companies have formed DEI committees, providing opportunities for international hires to participate and share their business visions and cultural experiences with diverse team members. These opportunities improve the employee experience by providing participants with a sense of belonging and value.

Power Recruitment Through Partnership Programs

International recruitment and education is a priority on many college campuses—especially to get back to pre-pandemic enrollment numbers. According to my company’s study, 61% of global education professionals said that growing the number of new program enrollments is a top benchmark, and almost half of them report that incoming international applications are up compared to pre-Covid levels.

These stats spotlight how imperative a focus on international education is on U.S. campuses and another reason international students may be a hiring target. Part of prioritizing internationalization at your company may include looking in your own backyard and working with local colleges and universities to engage in on-campus recruiting of international interns and entry-level employees. At Terra Dotta, for example, we’ve hired several international students from local universities like Elon, N.C. State and UNC-Charlotte. Some started as interns and worked their way into full-time positions after graduation.

Make It Worth The Students’ While

It takes a lot of time and effort on an international student’s part to pursue an education and career in America. I-graduate’s 2022 International Student Barometer survey found students were most likely to say their studies provided value if they felt prepared for a post-graduation career.

Career preparation often includes relevant intern experience. Develop your internship program so international participants can potentially transition into full-time jobs after graduation. Also consider offering a diverse mentorship program available to international student interns, and provide them with workshop opportunities to immerse themselves in the company and industry. If these students know valuable job opportunities are available after graduation, they’re more motivated to study in the United States and participate in internships with well-known businesses and organizations.

Having international students as dedicated team members provides companies with needed skills and talent. Focusing on this talent pool also creates the kind of diversified and inclusive atmosphere that many U.S.-based organizations are trying to foster.

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