UMBC’s work to support international students in their career development has earned the university a place in the global spotlight. Professionals in International Education (PIE) has selected UMBC as a finalist for a 2018 PIEoneer Award, with UMBC being the only U.S. university honored in the Student Support category. The selection recognizes UMBC’s work to cultivate a supportive community for international students and to help them pursue careers that utilize and value their unique language, academic, and professional skills.
PIE is specifically recognizing a series of programs designed by UMBC International Education Services (IES) in collaboration with the UMBC Career Center. Responding to the needs of international students and area employers, these initiatives help international students be as competitive as possible in entering the workforce after graduation.
“This recognition is incredibly important for UMBC because it acknowledges on a global stage our commitment to meeting the real and unique needs of our international students,” says Michelle Massey, associate director, International Student and Scholar Services. “We listen to our students, we develop solutions together as a community, and we implement them to help these students have the best possible experience at UMBC, and as alumni.”
These opportunities help international students manage a range of challenges that they may encounter on their path to career success in the United States through a tiered process. International students learn about the Career Center’s supportive resources in their earliest days on campus, during orientation. As they progress in their degree programs, the Career Center guides them through the process of identifying and exploring specific career goals and skill sets that match their talents and aspirations within the sphere of the U.S. job market, particularly through internship experiences.
IES and the Career Center co-organize an annual International Student Career Conference focused on the unique needs of international students in their job search process in the United States. Now in its fourth year, the conference is an opportunity for students to network with alumni, industry experts, and local employers, and get expert legal information from an immigration attorney.
IES has also partnered with the Career Center and UMBC’s Mosaic Center to offer the workshop “International Identities in the Workplace.” International students who have already completed internships in the U.S. share their experiences with others through the workshop. The event also explores the interview process, business etiquette in American culture, and policy issues like protections against workplace discrimination.
Networking opportunities, career fairs, internships, and conferences help connect students directly with local start-ups and global companies such as Google, McCormick & Company, and Amazon. “Obtaining internship and work experience is vital for student career success,” says Christine Routzahn, director of the Career Center. “By working with partners such as IES, we ensure our international students have access to these opportunities and are prepared to advocate for themselves and thrive in the workplace.”
The impact of these programs has been profound. After first connecting with the Career Center during orientation, 93 percent of international students report that they continue to access Career Center services during their time at UMBC. Over one hundred international students attend the International Student Career Conference each year. International graduate students participating in these programs overwhelmingly report finding jobs that align with their career goals. Employers participating in the summer internship initiative report very strong interest in working further with students, extending job offers to those who have already participated or offering internships to future students.
“The value of this campus-wide partnership is immeasurable for international students working to overcome significant obstacles to meet their goals in the U.S.,” shares Massey. “I am so proud at how quick the UMBC community is to rise to the occasion of learning about these challenges and supporting this group of students to reach their potential together.”
Banner image: International flags in the UMBC Commons, looking out on a crowd of students gathered for a campus event. All images by Marlayna Demond ‘11 for UMBC.