International students list finding an employment opportunity as the number one factor in determining where they will live after graduation. Aayush Agarwal is no different.
Aayush came to the U.S. from India to study Automotive Engineering at Lawrence Technological University. Like many others in his program, he was drawn to Lawrence Tech and Michigan because of the superior educational and employment opportunities in his chosen specialty. While the harsh Michigan winters make him question his decision to remain, Aayush was able to secure employment with MAHLE Behr, a Tier-1 Automotive Supplier, as an Associate Product Engineer. This made his decision much easier.
Aayush is only one example of the thousands of students working during their Optional Practical Training (OPT) period. OPT is temporary work authorization for international students on F-1 student visas, generally used after a student graduates. All international students are eligible for at least 12 months of OPT after completion of a US degree program. International students who complete a degree with a major in a federally designated STEM field are eligible to apply for 17 additional months of OPT, thus making them eligible for up to 29 total months of work authorization after degree completion.
MAHLE Behr obviously understands the importance of hiring international students such as Aayush. Nearly 40% of Master’s Degree students in Mechanical Engineering in the U.S. are issued to international students. However, many companies, as part of their general policies, automatically disqualify international students if they will ever need sponsorship. This is not only discouraging for international students, but also limits their choice of candidates.