Study examines international students’ career development in the U.S.


A research proposal by UW–Madison students Hannah Rapp and Yi-jung (Sally) Wu was one of three to be awarded a $1,000 graduate research scholarship in fall 2020 by the Future Institute Research Center (FIRC).

Hannah Rapp and Yi-Jung Wu
Rapp (left) and Wu

Rapp is a doctoral student in the Human Development area within the School of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology. Wu is a doctoral student in the School’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, also pursuing a doctoral minor in educational psychology.

This past April, Rapp and Wu were invited as FIRC research fellows to speak about their research vision at the World Future Forum virtual conference.

Their study focuses on the career development of international students in the U.S. With FIRC’s support, they interviewed international students at a Midwestern university — who were within a year of graduating or had graduated — to learn about their experiences searching for job opportunities.

Currently, Rapp and Wu explain, international students have a limited time after graduation to find a job in their field before they must leave the country. Given these time constraints, they need to begin their career development preparations earlier than domestic students and stand out in internships and among U.S. employers for a shot at a job.

Rapp and Wu’s preliminary study results suggest that international students would benefit from more tailored university support and services related to career development.

For instance, beyond cover letter and resume writing services, they say international students would benefit from interacting with career advisors in their field who have knowledge navigating federal regulations and are familiar with companies that have hired international students or alumni in the past. They also would benefit from additional opportunities to form industry relationships through internships or conferences.

Learn more about FIRC’s graduate research scholarship program.