Job Search Advice from a former International Student

Last week, we were thrilled to bring in guest speaker Calvin Liu Navarro, Technical Recruiter at

profile photo of Calvin Liu Navarro

Calvin Liu Navarro, Technical Recruiter, LinkedIn

LinkedIn, for the second installment of our three-part fall Career Workshop Series. Born in Hong Kong and raised in China, Calvin first came to the U.S. on an F-1 visa to complete his undergraduate degree

in Business Management at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In his talk, Calvin shared his job search experience as an international student, gave advice to current students, and provided insight from the perspective of a Technical Recruiter. Below are the key takeaways from our conversation with Calvin.

Network, network, network!

  • It may seem daunting for international students who have to start from scratch in a different culture and maybe even a different language, but challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.
  • Start now by getting involved with student organizations. Those organizations might have alumni connections or with upperclassmen who can provide guidance.
  • Connect with others on LinkedIn and build your connections (see note on cold calling).
  • Make friends with both international and domestic students. It’s easy to only stay with people from your home country, but by meeting others from around the world and the U.S., you’ll gain invaluable perspectives and worldwide connections.
  • On-campus jobs are an opportunity to connect with other student assistants as well as faculty and staff.

Cold Calls (or emails)

A “cold call” is when you reach out to someone you’ve never met before. It’s fine to cold call via email, but you have to be willing to accept the fact that 99% of the time you won’t get a response. Be empathetic and understand that everyone’s busy and they might not have the time to get back to you. But also, don’t lose hope if people don’t respond. There are millions of people in this world, and someone will respond to you.

If you do send a cold call email, here’s what to do:

  1. Introduce yourself (who you are, when you’re graduating, what your major is)
  2. Explain why you’re reaching out to that person.
  3. End with a call to action. This is super important. Give them a reason to respond to you by asking them a question: Can we set up a 10-minute call so I can introduce myself better? Would you be open to a quick call so that I can learn more about…?
  4. Don’t forget to send a thank you if they do respond to you!

What are recruiters looking for?

  • Soft Skills. Technical skills can be taught; soft skills take time to be developed. What are some ways that you can work on those soft skills while you’re still in school?
  • Showcase your learning. You might have those soft skills, but you’ll need to be able to talk about them and give specific examples that demonstrate that you have those skills.
    • How well are you able to work on diverse teams? Talk about a time when you faced conflict when working in a group. How did you resolve that conflict?
    • How quickly are you able to learn things? Discuss a time when you had to pick up a skill or learn new material quickly. What did you do, and what was the outcome?
    • How well can you adapt to different situations? As an international student, you’ve had to transition to life in a new country, culture, and maybe a new language. How did you overcome and transition?
    • How well are you able to collaborate with others? Think about a time you had to collaborate on a school project or a club event. Be able to describe how you worked with other entities. What made the collaboration a success?
  • Passion. You may have the skills, but do you have the passion for this job or this company? What is it about this position that excites you? 
  • Do your research. Know the company you’re applying to, and be able to clearly explain why you want to work for that company. When a candidate says they want to work at LinkedIn because it is a large company or a leader in the industry, Calvin asks, “Why not apply to Google? They’re a big company.” Be specific with your reasons, and explain why this particular company is so important to you.

Recruiting & Hiring Cycle LinkedIn hires year-long, though different units may have different surges throughout the year. 

  • Start early. In general, tech companies hire nearly a year in advance. So, in August-October, they post jobs for the following summer.
  • Check job boards frequently. LinkedIn posts jobs for a maximum of 2 weeks, but oftentimes for much shorter periods of time. This is because of the sheer volume of applications they receive. Sometimes internship positions are posted for only a few days, so you need to have your resume updated and ready to go. Apply as soon as you see the posting.
  • For entry level positions, look for/reach out to “Campus Recruiters” versus “Technical Recruiters”. Campus Recruiters are hiring for entry-level positions or internships, and they’re looking specifically for recent graduates. Technical Recruiters are looking for experienced workers, and unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t count your time at an internship towards work experience minimum requirements (e.g., 2 years experience required).

Advice for International Students

  • Leverage your challenges; make them your advantages. International students face many challenges, but use them to your advantage! You’ve had to transition to a new culture, take yourself out of your comfort zone, make new friends, and be thousands of miles away from your family. Ask yourself: How have these challenges made me stronger?
  • Network and have patience! You never know how those connections can open up opportunities down the line.
  • Update your LinkedIn Profile. Cover letters are nice, but they’re generally only around 3 paragraphs. Use your LinkedIn profile to showcase your skills. It can tell a better, more complete story than a cover letter.



2020 Spartan Leadership & Career Conference

Join the Spartan Leadership and Career Conference! Learn how to refine your leadership skills and utilize them to lead yourself to a successful career. Register in Handshake to receive the full agenda with all of the Zoom links.  

Conference Information:

  •  Theme: Leadership in a Virtual World
  • Date and Time: Friday, October 9 from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM. (You don’t need to commit to the entire day; come and go as your schedule allows.)

Schedule: Check Handshake for the latest updates as more sessions are being added!

    • Keynote Speaker – Itza Sanchez, eBay
    • Employer panel (10:15 AM) – including representatives from Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments, and HPE
    • Alumni Panel (11:15 AM) – including representatives from City of San Jose, Verizon Media, Dublin Unified School District, and BrightTALK, UK
    • Breakout sessions starting at 1:30, 2:45 and 3:30 PM on a variety of leadership topics including:
      • Networking: Finding Connections in a Virtual World – presented by Enterprise Holdings
      • How to Operate a City Remotely – presented by City of San Jose
      • Why not me? Understanding how Impostor Syndrome Stunts our Leadership Potential – presented by the Engineering Student Success Center
      • Unconscious Bias
      • Personal Brand – Designing your X-Factor by Reggie Waterman

This event is sponsored by Student Involvement and the Career Center.   Learn more about Handshake.


Fall 2020 Career Workshop Series!

ISSS is pleased to partner with the Career Center to offer a series of workshops this fall that have been specially designed with our international student audience in mind. We hope you’ll join us!

Preparing for Job Fair Success

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 | 2:00-3:00 PM (PST) | Registration Required  

Are you ready for the Career Center’s upcoming Virtual Job Fairs? Career Counselor Judi Garcia will help you understand what to expect when you enter the Virtual Job Fair and how to best prepare yourself for professional interactions at the fair. International Student Advisor James Coon will share important information regarding your F-1 status and employment.

Strategies for Job Search Success with Special Guest Speaker Calvin Liu Navarro (LinkedIn)

Thursday, October 8, 2020 | 7:00-8:00 PM (PST) | Registration Required 

profile photo of Calvin Liu Navarro

Calvin Liu Navarro, LinkedIn

We are pleased to present our special guest speaker, Calvin Liu Navarro, Technical Recruiter at LinkedIn. Calvin will share about his experience as an F-1 student, his career path, and his perspective as a recruiter.

In this session, you will also hear from Judi Garcia, Career Center Counselor, who will share tips for job search success, and International Student Advisor James Coon, who will discuss CPT and on-campus employment basics.

Virtual Networking Panel

Thursday, November 19, 2020 | 7:00-8:00 PM (PST) | Registration Required 

Networking (even virtually) is not only important to your job search, but also critical to your long-term career growth. In this panel discussion, current SJSU students and alumni come together to discuss their experience at SJSU and share strategies for building your network.

Career Development Club

Message from Francine Li, President of the Career Development Club

Hi everyone, I hope all of you are staying safe during these crazy times. Despite that, are you looking to boost your leadership and interpersonal skills? Come join us! The Career Development club is a student-run organization helping students to discover career paths early by connecting them to industry leaders. We aim to prepare and equip individuals for pertinent career paths by providing a platform for students to discover their professional interests and to explore the “real world” after college. Our proposed events include a series of seminars on specific career fields, a mentorship program that provides further opportunities for practical experience.

Over the summer, our club has successfully hosted a workshop with three industry leaders in their profession sharing their thoughts on the economy, the job market, and where the opportunity may lay before us. As many students may wonder what the next phase of our economy and where the jobs will be headed in the market place, come and join us to explore the future opportunities for your job career!

Please stay connected with us on LinkedIn @SJSU Career Development Club or email us @! Hope to see you there!