Getting a Job

Can I have a part-time job if I'm a student?

International students may work part-time either on campus or off campus, but they must follow specific regulations. Check with your foreign student adviser before you begin looking for a job. He or she will advise you on your eligibility to work and help you stay within legal guidelines.

How do I find a job?

Most schools have an office on campus that posts job announcements on a bulletin board outside the office door. Another place to look is the "Help Wanted" section in the classified ads in the student and city newspapers. You can also go to the personnel office of a business or company where you would like to work to see if they have any job openings. Many government offices also have personnel offices that post job announcements. Finally, ask friends if they know of employers who want to hire someone.

What kinds of jobs can I get?

Students working at the school can usually find jobs cleaning the grounds and buildings, guarding buildings at night, or working in the cafeteria, library, or offices. Sometimes students can baby-sit (take care of other people's children) or perform house-cleaning or yard-work chores arranged through the school.

Sometimes the office that handles all the students within your major may be able to help you find a part-time job related to your field of study, either at the school or in a nearby business. Ask your student adviser to help you find a job suitable to your needs and schedule.

How do I apply for a job?

In most cases, a potential employer will have you fill out an application or submit a resumÈ (a one-page information sheet about you with information on your work experience, educational history, and so forth). If you go to a business or company to complete an application, make sure you have the necessary information with you. Most applications require you to provide your address and phone number, your social security number, where you have worked before (make sure you know the address and phone number of your previous employers and the names of your immediate supervisors), and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of references (people who know you well, not counting relatives). References may be former employers, teachers who know you personally, or respected friends who live in the area.

After you fill out the application, someone from the organization might speak with you at that time about the job. More than likely, however, the person who takes the application will tell you that the business will look at your application and will contact you for an interview later if you are one of the most-qualified applicants. If you do not hear from the company in a week, call back to find out if you are going to be interviewed and, if so, when.

When you get an interview, make sure you arrive a few minutes before your interview time. Do not be late. Also make sure you are well-dressed and look your best. During the interview, you will probably be asked about past jobs (your duties there and what you liked about the work), your qualifications (why you think you are the best person for the job), and why you want to work for that particular business or company. Be prepared for these questions. Also, get a copy of the job description before the interview (try to pick one up when you apply). A job description describes what you would be expected to do at that job, so that you can ask and answer questions about it during the interview.

What is the social security tax?

Social security is a U.S. government program for people who retire at a certain age, usually 65. Each time an employee in the United States is paid at a job, the employer is required to take a small percentage out of his or her wages to put into a national collection fund to pay for the social security program.

International students who enter the country on an F-1 visa do not have to pay social security taxes. You must still, however, have a social security card to get a job in the United States. You can apply for a social security card at the local social security office or at any post office. On your social security card, you will be given a unique nine-digit number, called your "social security number," which you can use as a form of identification (in the same way that you use your passport).

Will I have to pay income taxes?

In most cases, if you have a job, some money to pay state and federal taxes will be deducted automatically from your paycheck. However, some grants and fellowships (special study or work programs that are paid for by the government or private groups) do not require that taxes be taken out. Also, whether you are required to pay income taxes depends on what tax agreements exist between your country and the United States. Contact the Internal Revenue Service to discover what agreement exists regarding your country.

If you have a job during any part of a year and if the tax agreements with your country require that you pay income taxes, you will be required to file a tax form the following year before April 15. You will have to file both state and federal forms. On these tax forms you record how much money you received from your job or jobs during the previous year and how much money was deducted for taxes. Your employer will give you this information on a form called a W-2, which the employer must give you by January 31. After making some calculations, you will determine how much additional tax money you owe, or how much money the government owes you. If your earnings are low-which is usually the case when you work part-time-some of the money that was deducted will be returned to you one or two months after you mail in the tax form.

For more information on taxes, call 1-800-829-1040 to request clarification and to receive directions for assistance. You may also call 1-800-829-3676 and request such helpful publications as:

Your foreign student adviser can also direct you to proper information to assist you in filing your income tax form.

Will I be denied a job because I'm from another country?

The law in the United States mandates that an employer cannot discriminate (choose people unfairly) on the basis of race, nationality, religion, sex, marital status, or handicap. However, many people may apply for the same job, and often international students may not be the most qualified for the position.

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