Job Searching for International Students, Part 1

Today we would like to answer some common questions about the logistics of working as an international student in the US and give you some tips for job searching.

What is CPT?

F-1 Curricular Practical Training CPT is a type of work authorization that allows for off-campus training that is related to your major. CPT is usually for internships; non-mandatory internships require enrollment in a for-credit directed study course. The internship can be paid or unpaid. You will always need your CPT authorization prior to your employment.

Do I need CPT for a virtual internship?

It depends. If you are physically located in the US working for a US or foreign company, you need CPT. If you are not physically located in the US but work for a US company, check with your company.

How about an unpaid internship/volunteering opportunity?

You will need CPT for an unpaid internship. In general, you do not need CPT for volunteer work. But before you start volunteering, it is your responsibility to check if the volunteer activity meets governmental volunteering standards. If this volunteering experience is related to an academic degree /course requirement, you will need CPT.

What about on-campus work?

You do not need CPT for an on-campus job. However, not all the employers with ‘Tufts’ in their names are considered on-campus employment. Please double check with the International Center about which organizations count as on-campus employers.

More information

More information about CPT is available through the Tufts International Center. CPT Application Instructions are available here.


What is OPT?

F-1 Optional Practical Training provides international students  with opportunities to work in the U.S. in jobs that are directly related to their majors or programs of study. There are two types of OPT: pre-completion and post-completion OPT. The latter is more common, and it is used for post-graduation job authorization.

  • All students are given 12 months of OPT. You might be eligible for 24 months OPT extension depending on your academic program. Generally, all students at the Friedman School qualify for the STEM extension based on the I-20 major: Nutrition Sciences.
  • You can apply for OPT without a job offer. You have 90 days of unemployment time to find a job after you get your post-completion OPT.
  • Pay close attention to the OPT workshop and application process.

More information

More information about OPT is available through the Tufts International Center.

By Fangruo Zhou
Fangruo Zhou Student Ambassador