Thursday, March 24, 2016

After Graduation - OPT (Optional Practical Training)

It's come to that time of the year where seniors will be graduating (May 2016). Unbelievable to recall that four years has passed by in a blink of an eye. This is a time where graduating students are a little nervous and perhaps a little confused and uncertain about what to do after they have obtained their degree - like myself. As international students, we have a few options:
1. Continue your studies, which means apply to graduate school (anywhere you prefer) and maintain your student status in the US.
2. Apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) so that you are given the legal right to work in the US for a limited amount of time (depending on your major, usually at least 1 year)
3. Let's be real and honest, if the US is not your best fit, pack your bags, say farewell to your friends in the US and pursue your career elsewhere.

The focus today is on OPT and I will share my experience as I am currently going through this process. To summarize the importance of OPT, this is basicall
y a document that allows you to work in the US as an international student, similar to having a driver's license that allows you drive a car. OPT is a great opportunity to get work experience in the US as you progress through your career. I mean, why study all those text books, grind through homework assignments, and stress over exams if there is no practical use or further use of that knowledge? Did you come all this way to get a good grade on your transcript or are you building your foundation to your career? You probably want both.
OPT will help you build that foundation by offering you the opportunity to be engaged professionally in the real world. OPT is a privilege given to international students and I definitely recommend it.

The application process for OPT is very simple. It took me under an hour to get all documents ready and submitted.  It does take time (about a month or two or three) to process the application so make sure you apply in advance (don't worry, the school will send you reminders regarding OPT).

You've come all this way, why not take an extra step and live your educational experience in the US to the fullest?

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