Career Considerations for International Students

Can international students get fellowships and scholarships?

Yes. Fellowships fund a variety of experiences for study, research, and work in the U.S. and overseas. All fellowship programs have a target audience that all students searching for fellowships have to bear in mind. International students are no different. While many fellowships are targeted at U.S. citizens only, many are not. In fact, most fellowships offered by Columbia invite applicants from any nationality.

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I want to Network. What resources are available to me?

Networking is the process of making connections and building relationships that provide you with information, advice, and further contacts, all of which will enhance your ability to make informed career decisions and tap into unadvertised internship/job vacancies. Networking can take place in a group or one-on-one setting.

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What if my internship requires that I get credit instead of compensation?

Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Columbia School of General Studies, do not provide credit for internships. There is no doubt that internships are valuable experiences for students seeking an introduction to a range of careers and professional cultures.  However, we expect companies to appropriately compensate students for work performed during internships. This policy is one adopted by many of our peer institutions and also is in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and NY State’s Minimum Wage Act and Wage Orders.

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I would like to get an unpaid internship or volunteer off campus. What do I need to know?

Interning and volunteering offer opportunities to gain experience, build your skills, and strengthen your resume. For unpaid work on or off campus such as volunteering or an unpaid internship, you may start right away and do not need OPT. You must be sure the position is unpaid for anyone (i.e. not just you because you want to take the job as a volunteer). Start by using these tools:

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What do I need to consider regarding eligibility to undertake an internship or job?

As an international student, it is essential that you fully understand your eligibility to work in the location of the internship or job and the process to gain work authorization. Eligibility to work considerations include:

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Regarding my career search, where and when do I start?

Start in your first year by visiting Columbia’s Center for Career Education (CCE) website and the International Students section. Then visit CCE to speak with a career counselor to learn more about the resources to support your internship/ job search as an international student.

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Do international students need to file and pay U.S. taxes?

All international students in F-1 (and J-1) status are required to file at least one tax form if present in the US at any time in the previous calendar year—even if they had no US income. This process happens between January and April each year for the previous year. For example, 2013 taxes will be filed by mid-April of 2014. Students with U.S. income do pay taxes (taken out of their paycheck) and need to file taxes by April 15. Students without income (no tax has been paid) need to file by 15.

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How do I get paid for working on campus?

Once you secure an on-campus job, the hiring manager will provide you with required paperwork to complete and have processed by Columbia University’s Human Resources Department to be added to the University’s payroll. If you do not yet have a Social Security number (SSN), you will have to apply for one. Information is on the ISSO website about the forms you will be given to get on the university’s payroll and to apply for a SSN.

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