As international students, it’s very important to understand what kind of visa related restrictions they’re going to face and how to get work authorizations to work in the U.S. Any international students who are interested in working in the U.S. both as interns and fulltime workers should be familiar with CPT, OPT and H1B visa.
1) CPT (Curricular Practical Training)
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization that allows F-1 international students to participate in paid off internships during their degree program. The purpose of CPT is academic, not just for employment purposes, and the internship is considered an integral part of a student’s degree program. Students must have a specific job/internship offer to apply. If the internship is an unpaid or volunteer position, CPT authorization is still recommended. In order to receive CPT authorization, students must register for CPT course (Strategy 425) and attend a CPT workshop hosted by International Center. CPT does not interfere with students’ eligibility for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation unless they have done a total of 12 months full-time CPT during their degree program. In this case, they would lose the option to do OPT. Amounts under the 12 months full-time do not cancel any portion of OPT.
Optional practical training is temporary employment authorization that allows F-1 students to gain practical work experience by applying their academic knowledge to a position directly related to their area of study. Students are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT after they have completed at least one full academic year. There are three types of Optional Practical Training: Pre-completion (before graduation); post-completion (after all degree requirements are completed). In order to get OPT, students also need to attend an International Center OPT workshop. A job offer is not required to apply for OPT; however, the work must be directly related to the student’s major area of study.
An H1B visa is a temporary workers visa allowing those in specialty occupations to work in the U.S. H1B visas are granted initially for up to three years, and are renewable for another three years. With some exceptions, H1B visas are limited to six years in duration. An H1B visa allows a foreign person with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in work experience to work in the U.S., if the position the foreigner will fill requires such preparation, and the employer agrees to pay the individual the prevailing wage for such a position in the location of employment. This is appropriate for someone who has a specialty job offer in the U.S. and wants to start working as soon as possible. In order to get H-1B visa, students need a job offer in the U.S with a company willing to sponsor them.
How to get acclimated to the new environment and establish relationships?
As an international student, you may be having many friends back home, know many people who can help you out when you need, or have your family there who will always support you. Now you are in a completely new environment, and need to solve all problems by yourself since you don’t know anyone here – it is definitely a big difference.
Here I summarized the ways to expand your circle – Ann Arbor is a great place to make life-long friends!
International Student Orientation: This event is mandatory for all international students and it happens every year at the end of August/before school starts. Most people think the orientation shows you how to navigate on campus and the basic knowledge you need to live in the city. However, I think this is a great chance to meet people since this is the only chance all international students will gather together. You should take this chance to meet as many people as possible. As far as I know, many people starts establishing friendships during the orientation and most of them stay as good friends for their entire college lives.
Things you should do during orientation: don’t be shy; talk to as many people as possible; get their contact; follow up later with invitation to hangout
Things to avoid: some people will come with people they know so they don’t even bother to make new friends there. As I mentioned, this is a great chance to expand your circle. Thus, you shouldn’t only stick to people you know, but try to get to know more people.
Extracurricular Activities: Getting involved is a great way to explore life at Michigan, and also a great way to make friends. There are thousands of student organizations on campus. There are many ways to find out which clubs are good fits for you:
Maize page: http://uuis.umich.edu/maizepgs/; in this website you can find all clubs that are officially registered with the university/MSA. These organizations list their information such as website/mission/contacts/classification/membership/recruitment time. These are very useful information to determine if it fits your interest. If you need to know more about the organization, you can always email the point of contact and discuss.
Festifall: This happens every year in September - you don’t need to know the date because there’s no chance you will miss it, unless you don’t walk by Diag for an entire day. Tons of student organization will set up booth and publicize their clubs. You not only get to know the clubs better through talking to them face to face, but also get much free stuff!
Flyers: you will see people handing out flyers and setting up informational presentations everywhere at the beginning of fall. Pick the ones you are interested and go there to listen!
Once you joined some clubs/organizations, you will have access to know many people who share the same interest with you – great way to make friends!
Class/School: Everyone will belong to one school, no matter if it’s LSA, Business School, Engineering or Law School. People in the same school are likely to take similar classes, and schools sometimes have their own career or major focused student organization, where you can get to know people going into the similar career field as you are.
Gym: We have three major gyms on campus, NCRB, CCRB and IM building. Many students go there regularly to play sports and work out. If you are a sports fan, I’m sure you will meet people there and make friends!
Every international student at Ross School of Business had passed examinations and interviews before being accepted to business school. All of us have enough language skills for studying and working in the USA.
But, it should be also considered that many of us come from different countries and we have not used extensively English in our daily life. Also, some of us may have to deal with culture shock after coming to a foreign country. Therefore, international students may need to cope with problems related to language and communication. The language issue in the business school can be classified in the following items.
Business Language: In the business school, most of the students talk about the market, companies, and industry trends every day. Also, in the lectures professors talk about recent business events. Therefore, students should better be knowledgeable about the business jargon.
Fortunately, most of the students are have a strong business background and therefore, they have a good understanding about business terminology. Even though, it would be good for international students to read some business books and magazines before business school. My personal choices:
Thomas Freidman’s The World is Flat (http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/bookshelf/the-world-is-flat)
Walter Kiechel III’s The Lord of Strategy (http://lordsofstrategy.com/)
The Economist (http://www.economist.com/) and of course The Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/home-page?_wsjregion=na,us&_homepage=/home/us)
Daily Life: Most of us think that in their daily life, Americans speak English that we are thought at high schools. Unfortunately, this is absolutely wrong. They speak almost another language, unofficial but necessary for surviving. I will not list all of the words, because it will not be fun for you anymore. But one example would be good to illustrate. The most common word used for greeting people is “W’s up?” a compressed version of “what is up?”. This is not a question, but a type of “hi”.
There is only one way of improving the daily life language, practice with the native speakers. The happy hours and orientation activities are great starting points. Also, the importance of small talk should not be underestimated, it is also vital for recruitment events.
Cultural Difference: The other important aspect of language arises from cultural differences. This aspect is not only related with the language itself, but also to the extent of directness of your own country.
To be more specific, American people are relatively more direct than many Asian cultures and more indirect than European culture. As an example, if you ask an American friend to the cinema, she would not directly reject, instead she probably tell that she has to do other work but she can make it next week. If I were you, I would not take schedule myself to the cinema for the next
week. Similarly, if you come across with a friend in the winter garden, to the end of conversation, you would probably hear this phrase; “Let”s have some lunch sometime”. This usually means that your friend needs to run. You can observe that European students would directly say that they need to go, and Chinese students can be late to the class because they could not halt the conversation just for courtesy.
I witnessed that many international students have problems in communication with their classmates due to cultural difference, including me. Unfortunately, it is hard to adjust to a different culture after a certain age. In order to tackle the problem, I would recommend being careful during conversations, pay attention to details, and also talking about such cultural differences with your native friends in detail and pay attention to details.
Accents: All international students are coming from different countries, and often they had been speaking English with nonnative speakers before business school. As everybody have accent, it happens to be the case that the incoming students are used to specific type of accents.
Those students may face with difficulties when they come to US. It is common to see that Americans find difficult to understand different accents. Also, such students would hear different accents of classmates, sometimes strong ones, and they will have hard time to understand those.
Similar to daily life language, there is no easy way to getting used to different accents. My recommendation would be getting to know your section mates and spend as much time as possible. You would see that you will be able to understand different accents as quick as possible.
I personally find different accents as a differentiating factor and I am happy with my accent. But, it is also true that some international students may want to alleviate their accents, especially if they believe their accent makes them hard to understand. I have witnessed that one of my friend reduced his accent with the help of a professional service company; Accent Reduction Center (http://www.accentreductioncenter.com/)
Everywhere you go, you can at least find basic burgers, and pizzas. The meals will be served with sodas. These sodas can be refilled for free as many times as you wish. Usually you will take a glass, and then before and during your meal you go to a fountain. There is also free refill for tea and coffee. In restaurants, you will have a large glass of water as well. Waiters will come to refill it as soon as you have finished it; there is no pitcher on the table.
You will be asked how much you want your meat to be cooked. Be sure that, even if you ask it to be ‘raw’, it will be well cooked. There is definitely no uncooked meat in the US! When asked how cooked you want your meat to be, you can answer ‘raw’, ‘bloody’, ‘medium’, or ‘well-cooked’.
Even if most people go to eat around 12pm for lunch and 6pm for dinner, there is no time for a meal. Or more precisely, it is always time for a meal. During your group project you may eat your lunch at 11 am as well as at 3pm… Make sure to discuss th
is point at the beginning of the day so that you won’t stay hungry for hours! You can eat pretty much everywhere: for instance, don’t be surprised if you see someone eating in class while the professor is teaching, this is not rude in the US.
At the restaurant in Ross you will be able to buy sandwiches, create your own salad, buy a burger, a piece of pizza, or ‘healthy’ food.
At the restaurant, never ask something to the waiter, and never rise your finger; this is very impolite in the US. Instead, you have to create an ‘eye contact’ with him or her, and he or she will come. Actually, waiters in the US are supposed to anticipate your needs. If you raise your finger, it will be perceived as if you make him or her know that he or she is not doing his or her job correctly. By the way, waiters are paid with your tips, so these are extremely important. Even if you didn’t like the food, you need to put money for the waiter, who is not responsible for the quality of the food! Tips are usually between 10% (for very bad service) and 20% for a good service. Be aware that waiters will take your plate when you finish your meal, even if there are still some people eating at your table.
If you haven’t finished your meal, you can ask for a free box and take back home what remain in your plate.
At the beginning of a meal, you should wait until everyone has been served, unless people agree to start. You don’t have to say any ‘bon appétit’ or anything else. Many meals are sweet, including the wines, which can be quite surprising.
Finally, if you don’t get used to American food, just take some and then go to a restaurant in Ann Arbor, you will find any kind of food you want! And meals are not the most important way Americans socialize: happy hours are the place where you will create relationships. During your group projects, for instance, you will continue to work while eating – and you will never do that while drinking a beer!
International students come to US for both education experience and some work experience. Many want to do internship before they head back home for full time, and some want to work in US full time for some experience. Here we want to share some of our experience in the recruiting process and how it is different from other country.
Please note that recruiting processes in different industry can differ a lot, and we are more familiar with the bus
iness school process. We will try to give instructions that are helpful in general.
General Process: we call the general recruiting process on-campus recruitment, where firms will post jobs on career websites and accept resume drop. Most internship recruitments happen at the beginning of winter semester, starting from January. Note that many jobs have different resume drop deadline, and each school will have different process, so please check with your school’s career office for detailed information on the resume drop processes. After resume drop, you will find out if you are invited to the interview. For business school students, the system is a bit more complicated. You will either be close-listed, which means you are invited to the interview, or not close-listed, which means you will have to bid (each student has 1000 points to bid) for the interview if you are interested. There are usually two rounds of interviews, which are sometimes both on campus. Sometimes firms will interview you on campus for first round, and fly you out later for a super day. Once you get an offer, you will need to make a decision in about a month. Full time processes are very similar, but happen in September and October every year.
Networking: Networking plays a crucial role during recruiting processes. Michigan has world’s largest alumni base and they are always there to help you. Every year, firms send people who graduated from Michigan to hold presentations and networking event. Our recommendation is to take advantage of these events and get to know as many people as possible. These recruiters will determine if you get close-listed and if you can make them remember you that will be very helpful during the resume screening process.
What’s important: For undergraduate students, the lack of professional experience made our GPA and extracurricular experience extremely important. For graduate students, your work experience is what recruiters care. Also, you should ask senior students to help you revise your resume – it needs to be brief, clear and show your strength. Following up with alumni you meet on the event is important – they can help you understand the business as well as get the interview opportunities.
Interview: international students sometimes have language barriers which will influence the interview process. Thus, the recommendation here is to practice as much as possible – with friends, professors, career officers, families and yourself. Please don’t forget you are competing with everyone, including domestic students.
Make a decision: The decision making process after you get an offer is challenging. Make sure you view the school policies and go for what you really want – you shouldn’t be forced to make a decision under any circumstances.
Resources: each school has their own career service office, where you can get services such as resume review, mock interview and general advising. Some schools have alumni database where you can find alumni’s contacts and reach out to them. Senior students who have been through the process are usually very helpful as well.
Getting around University of Michigan’s large campus and even the city of Ann Arbor is very convenient. The
re are multiple public and personal means of transportation you can take. Below are a few most commonly used means of transportation:
· Public Transportation – Using the buses to get around campus is free and fast. The blue Michigan buses can be ridden by anyone. They come every 5-15 minutes depending on the route, day of the week and time of day. Each bus is outfitted with a GPS tracker which is used to put live timing and location of the buses on the following website: http://mbus.pts.umich.edu/. This website provides info on the bus stops and timings as well. There is also an iPhone app “Mbus” which can tell you the closest bus stop and the bus routes servicing that stop. At least 1 bus runs between north campus and central campus till 2:30am on weekdays and 3:30am on weekends. On football Saturdays, there are “Go Blue” routes from north to central campus. These buses get exceedingly packed so make sure to give yourself enough time to get to the game.
To get around the city of Ann Arbor (if for instance you are going to the nearest Target/Meijer), the easiest option is to take the AATA buses (white buses). To ride these, make sure you have your MCard on you (if you want to ride for free) as you’ll have to swipe it as you get on. You can use Google Maps to enter start and end location and if you choose public transit, it will provide you with the route number and times at which you can take them.
· Car – A car is a more expensive, but the most convenient, way to get around places even slightly out of campus. You can buy a car at any of the multiple car dealers in Ann Arbor. Searching for the make/brand you want online will give you a dealer you can buy from locally. To get a driver’s license, you will have to go to the local DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles). Instructions can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1627_8669_9040_9042_47086---,00.html. If you do get a car, make sure you figure out beforehand a parking spot which is convenient for you. Look around for places which rent out spots you can use all semester. Also, do not forget to get an insurance plan which suits you and meets the minimum state requirements.
· Bike – This is a simple way to get around distance in a 1 mile radius. In the time it would take to wait for the next bus, you can get to your destination and get a fun workout. University of Michigan has a biker friendly campus.
· Airport transportation – Getting from the airport to the campus is about a $50 cab ride. A cheaper alternative is to take the UM Shuttle bus run by MSA (https://www.msa.umich.edu/airbus/). These are operated before/after most breaks like winter break etc. You can get a ride to the airport for $7 if you buy the ticket beforehand from the Union Ticket counter or $10 if you buy the ticket as you board the bus. The second option is riskier as during peak hours, these buses may be full.
The dress code in a US university depends on the event you are attending. There are 3 basic levels of clothing:
· Casual – This implies day to day wear such as jeans, T-shirt, hoodie etc. These can be worn to classes, while hanging out with friends etc.
· Business-casual – This is a more formal dress code. This involves wearing a nice button down shirt with khakhee pants and maybe a tie. For women, you may replace the pants with a formal skirt. This is worn to more professional events such as a talk by a visiting guest or to a company event.
· Business-professional – This is the most formal style of dressing. It involves wearing a full suit with tie. It is worn to interviews and career fair (note: you may wear business-casual to career fair as well).
For other events like say a party or if you are going to a club, you would wear a more dressy shirt and pants. As a general rule of thumb, being over-dressed is better than being under-dressed. So if unsure, stay on the safe side and dress formally.
You may have to go to a different place depending on what you are looking for. Below are places you may buy the following items:
· Groceries- You may get groceries at either Target, Meijer, Kroger or Wal-Mart. There are locations for these accessible by the AATA buses. There are no major shops with groceries on campus. To ensure you get the best deals on your purchases at grocery stores like Meijer or Kroger, always get their loyalty cards. You usually end up getting 15-20% off many products.
· Clothing – These same stores often carry affordable casual clothing. However, if you are looking for trendier and more in-style clothing, the Briarwood Mall offers a number of options. Stores like Macy’s, American Eagle, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostle and Pac Sun carry apparel targeted towards a youth audience. These are pricier and fancier.
· Housewares- Larger stores like Target, Meijer and Wal-Mart all carry basic housewares at affordable rates. For nicer housewares from brand name manufacturers, William Sonoma in the Briarwood Mall is the best choice. They carry high quality cooking utensils etc.
· Electronics – Best Buy is by far the biggest electronics retailer in the US. They carry a large selection of every electronic item. Radio Shack is also an option for those looking for a smaller gadget like a plug/cord. They also carry phones and service plans.
· Online retailers – Websites like Amazon and eBay often offer great deals on brand new or almost new products. The prices online are generally lower than those you see in-store. You can probably find a wider collection of products on sites like Amazon than what you will find in-store.
1) Enjoying College Football
Football is the most important sport at the University of Michigan. It provides international students with great opportunities to get along with classmates. In addition, being knowledgeable about Michigan football will be very helpful for your recruiting activities in many ways. For example, it’s very usually for students to have chances to talk about college football with recruiters during their interviews or at the break sessions of corporate presentations. Especially when recruiters are Michigan alumni, football would be one of the best topics to build rapport with them. If interviewers are not from Michigan, I still believe that talking about college football is one of the most effective ways to break ice.
a) Season Ticket
Students can purchase season tickets from the school at the discounted price. Using the season tickets, students can watch around seven games at the Big House which is the largest college football stadium in the U.S. between September and November. It’s hard to say whether purchasing football season ticket is a good or bad idea. Cheering for the Wolverines together with classmate in the stadium would be very meaningful and invaluable experiences for any international students. However, you should be reminded that it’s very difficult to watch every game due to busy school life and it could be better for some people not familiar with football rules to watch games on TVs instead of just shouting out without understanding how the game is going. Many students are selling football tickets that they’re not going to use at face value at the school market places. So, you can also consider watching a few games by purchasing those tickets instead of buying a season ticket. However, it could be too expensive or difficult to get tickets for big games like University of Michigan vs. Ohio State University.
Michigan Football is the best thing to be a part of on any campus in the U.S. You would be able to see so much passion, excitement and anticipation during tailgating parties. Many people say that tailgating is an art at Michigan. The parties are not always pretty. But students are pretty proud of it. Every home game Saturday, thousands of revelers join the party scene near Michigan Stadium, where the color scheme is maize-and-blue. They eat, drink, laugh, grill, socialize, people-watch, kick back, join in, feel great about life, bask in the tradition of it all. There are literally thousands of places to tailgate in Ann Arbor, but if you're doing it right you're probably on one of Ann Arbor's golf courses, and within walking distance of the Big House.
2) Sports Facilities
University of Michigan has three gym facilities (Central Campus Recreation Building, North Campus Recreation Building and Intramural Sports Building) which are very useful for students’ sports activities. The details about open hours open and facilities can be found at http://www.recsports.umich.edu/ and U of M student are available for using those facilities free by showing their M cards at the entrances. Central Campus Recreation Building is closer from the business school building and many MBA students are using it for playing basketball and swimming. Although North Campus Recreation Building has a relatively smaller size than other fitness gyms, it is very popular to residents of the North Campus Family Housing. Intramural Sports Building is very conveniently located for residents at the Woodbury Gardens apartment.
3) Parks for Sports & Recreational Activities
Ann Arbor has many beautiful parks where you can enjoy walking and other recreational activities with your family and classmates. I recommend that international students benefit from these parks as much as possible before it starts getting cold.
a) Kensington Metropark
I think Kensington Metropark is one of the most popular parks for Michigan students. Take U.S. 23 north to I-96 east. Get off at exit #151, Kensington Road. Turn right on Kensington Road, go over the expressway. Park entrance will be on the right on the north side of I-96. You can enjoy many kinds of outdoor activities like boating, canoeing, fishing, and hiking. The park also has a couple of sand beaches where you can enjoy sun tanning and swimming. In addition, Kensington Park has a farm center which has many live farm animals such as baby pig, sheep and draft horse. It would be the great place to see especially if you have kids.
b) Gallop Park
Gallop Park has a few covered shelters and barbeque grills which make it really nice place to have a barbeque party with family and friends. You would be able to enjoy riding bicycles and roller blades seeing the beautiful scenery. Canoeing is also very popular under good weather conditions.
c) Buhr Park
Buhr Park has many kind of sports facilities including tennis courts, basketball court, open field play and sledding hill. I think the best part of Buhr Park which differentiates it from other parks is having a family activity pool and a seasonal ice rink.
4) Other Sports
Ann Arbor is very nice place to learn and enjoy golf and I’d like to introduce a couple of golf courses.
U of M Golf Course: http://www.mgoblue.com/genrel/062209aaa.html/ (Difficulty: High / Price: Mid / Quality: Mid~High)
Leslie Park Golf Course: http://leslie-park.com/thecourse.htm/ (Difficulty: Mid / Price: Mid / Quality: Mid)
Lake Forrest Golf Course: http://www.lakeforestgc.com/ (Difficulty: Mid / Price: Mid / Quality: Mid~High)
Stonebridge Golf Course: http://www.stonebridgegolfclub.net/ (Difficulty: Mid~High / Price: High / Quality: Mid~High)
Huron Hills Golf Course - 3465 E. Huron River Dr., Ann Arbor, (734) 971-6840
b) Frisbee football
Many international students would be familiar with Frisbee. However, Frisbee football (ultimate football) could sounds very strange for many of them and they don’t know how to play this game while many U.S. students enjoy it quite often. It’s a combination of American football and soccer with a little bit of rules of both. The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to a player in the opposing end zone, similar to an end zone in American football or rugby. Players may only move one foot while holding the disc.
c) BaseballBaseball is definitely one of the most popular professional sports in the U.S. International center organizes a few events for international students to go to Detroit and watch Tigers’ game together. This could be great opportunities for any international students who are not familiar with baseball to understand its rules, popularity and significance in the U.S. culture.