There is no denying that the traditional career path is evolving. Young people are changing jobs more than ever before. To address this, universities across the globe are going beyond simply teaching; they are equipping students to build careers and networks before they enter the workforce.
But within each university are hundreds or thousands of international students, for whom finding employment in the U.S. can be even more challenging. In order to address their unique needs, we decided to provide additional career support and leverage our location in the San Francisco Bay Area to expose students to Silicon Valley innovation.
As part of UC Berkeley, we offer short-term programs for hundreds of international students each year. Students can choose to study for a semester or year abroad at Berkeley or gain skills-based instruction through professional certificates focused on in-demand business and technology fields. The main objectives of our Career Development Program are tangible: Better equip international students to enter the workforce and ensure their successful internship and job placement. Graduates have achieved impressive career growth, including landing jobs at major technology companies such as Google and even becoming social entrepreneurs in their own right.
Our programs have had a tangible impact on career outcomes: Graduates have achieved impressive career growth, including landing jobs at major technology companies such as Google and even becoming social entrepreneurs in their own right.
To further help our students achieve their professional goals, we provide career-related resources for those who are taking our Immersives and Professional Diploma Programs (PDP). After all, in addition to the normal stressors that come with finding a job, international students must overcome additional obstacles, such as maintaining Visa status; proving their English-language abilities; and navigating the cultural subtleties of résumé writing, networking and work culture that are unique to the U.S.
Says Eddie West, Assistant Dean and Executive Director of International Programs at UC Berkeley Extension, "We wanted to provide more resources for international students who come to study in Berkeley. They're making an investment in their future. The career development that we offer ensures that they leave not only with practical skills related to their field, but also the strategies to better position themselves for a job. We're developing global professionals."
Entering the Workforce: Essentials for Communication
Our Career Development Program prepares international students to enter the workforce and to ensure successful internship and job placement—whether in their home countries or globally. (Job placement in the U.S. is possible through Optional Practical Training [OPT], a year-long authorization available to international students that allows for paid work.)
The career development course prepares students through experiential learning, or learning by doing—providing students with a space to practice and reinforce skills learned in class. The course is made up of lectures, including guest speakers, and group work to enhance communication skills.
Part of this course focuses on fine-tuning professional writing techniques—from cover letters and résumés for job applications, to composing email messages and reports that are frequently necessary after getting a job.
We wanted to provide more resources for international students who come to study in Berkeley. The career development that we offer ensures that they leave not only with practical skills related to their field, but also the strategies to better position themselves for a job. We're developing global professionals.
To help you advance your verbal communication, you will practice and refine techniques so that you can give more effective and influential oral presentations, as well as learn how to talk about your accomplishments effectively during job interviews to impress a potential employer.
Woven through each lesson are discussions about the cultural expectations in a typical American workplace.
- What are best practices for PowerPoint slides in the U.S.? Include visuals and limit text to a few lines per slide!
- How long should emails be? Shorter is better; for complex topics, an in-person conversation is often best.
- What is the most appropriate way to give and receive feedback at work? Take the class to find out!
Because you'll be learning these career-enhancing skills alongside other students from around the globe, you can feel comfortable to ask questions, and develop a deeper understanding of the "why" that shapes common workplace attitudes and collaboration between colleagues in the U.S.
Making Silicon Valley Connections
Berkeley's location in the San Francisco Bay Area, combined with its academic reputation, has made it an important part of the Silicon Valley ecosystem.
Because you'll be learning these career-enhancing skills alongside other students from around the globe, you can feel comfortable to ask questions, and develop a deeper understanding of workplace attitudes and collaboration between colleagues in the U.S.
Each semester students in the career development course take part in weekly activities featuring leaders in business, entrepreneurship and technology.
- Attend networking events and panel discussions.
- Experience Silicon Valley—in person—through company visits.
- Receive advice and insight directly from experts who are working on innovative projects and creating new technologies.
- Get exposure to a wide variety of professional environments, from technology startups, to nonprofit and social-impact organizations to large corporate entities.
In addition, instructional workshops also take place each semester and focus on practical subjects like preparing for the OPT work authorization application process, creating your personal brand, building a professional social media presence and more.
And after the course is over? Says West, "We're excited to see what the future holds for our students. They are bright and motivated and poised to contribute a lot. I think we'll be hearing more about big things they're accomplishing in the years to come."
Interested in developing your career? Learn more about our new Immersives and Professional Diploma Programs (PDP) for students and professionals from around the world that offer in-depth career services.
Read stories from our professional certificate students on our blog.