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Jose Suarez

Jose Suarez is an international student from Colombia majoring in Religion and International Relations.  In this interview Jose discusses his experiences looking for work to support him during his years at Calvin University.  

This interview is part of our series International Students Speak created to give an inside look at how policies impact real people on the ground.  

OSJ: What comes to mind when you think about working as an international student? 

JS: Two main ideas. The first would be the fact that we need to work harder than our American counterparts in order to be able to succeed. We have fewer opportunities because we can’t work for more than a year for Optional Practical Training and then, for Curricular Practical Training, we have to fulfill a certain number of requirements. We have to work harder than Americans because we have to make up for those limitations with our work ethic. If employers see that we work well, it kind of makes up for the extra paperwork and immigration fees that the employers have to go through. 

The second is that we have limited opportunities. Since international students have a very limited amount of time which they can work off campus they have to get campus jobs. You can see how many positions on campus are manned by international students. I think this also makes you root for support for international students in the sense that the opportunities that they have on campus they won't have outside unlike others. They’re already limited and they're making the best out of what they can do.   

OSJ: Your majors are Religion and International Relations. How would working off campus benefit your future career? 

JS: I think something I realized especially this past summer is the importance of having more specific quantitative skills in your experiences. That's something I don't really have and I think what really gets you a job is not necessarily your abstract experience in a sense, but your knowledge of things in your industry.  Working off campus makes you a much more competitive candidate.  Most of the jobs that international students can get on campus are usually physical labor. Most of them require pretty simple skills which don't really add up on your resume nor makes you a competitive candidate for jobs in the professional world. 

OSJ: Do you think that domestic students or other Americans are aware of the difference? 

JS: No, because most domestic students are not exposed to people from other countries or situations in which they are a minority. Or situations in which they put your shoes in the minority position. People just take international students for granted. I think that is the case for most people who haven't just had any kind of experience as such and I think that's the case for most white students here in Calvin.


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