Int student finishing MFA, possibly obtain one-year working pass...
December 28, 2013 9:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm a semester away from finishing my MFA in San Francisco and I'm looking for advice on how to start job-searching especially as a (about to be former) international student.

I'm able to apply for a one-year OPT pass, which then lets you obtain work experience (paid or unpaid) in anything related to your degree. My degree is broad enough (Creative Inquiry) that I have pretty big leeway in connecting most jobs to my degree, it doesn't have to be strictly artistic - e.g. working with people, team management, logistics, etc. My school's International Students Director has been pretty helpful, though I'm an unusual case since she hasn't really had to deal with MFA students looking for OPT. (My program is small and has hardly any international students, and the bulk of the people who she arranges OPT for are doing therapy programs, which my school's more known for.)

I am currently doing a paid internship on a youth project with SOMArts that ends in June, so that's a possible avenue. I've also built networks with various groups and organisations that deal with art/sexuality/gender/race/intersectional politics though a lot of those don't pay and I'm looking for jobs that can help me support myself in the US.

Things I'm interested in:

* A job involving going on tour. I'm looking at staff jobs on Semester at Sea, and will consider Up with People (who I travelled with in 2005) when they start hiring again in June. Structured, lots of travel, being part of a bigger project.
* Skill-building in artistic direction or dramaturgy for productions (esp stage, interactive, event-style). I've wanted to be an artistic director for some time and some direct experience - such as being an assistant - would be awesome.
* Tutoring or small-scale tutoring - I was part of a fellowship at school where you got training and work as graduate-level academic tutors and really loved the work.
* Media presentation - I have experience working in production for TV, radio, print, and web, and really enjoyed presenting on radio and TV. I would love to be in front of the camera or mike again.
* I am at a crossroads in my life - newly single, degree ending, not sure where in the world I'm going to be, shifting interests - and I'm pretty open to offbeat ideas too - for instance, I'm getting curious about olfactory arts, which has nothing to do with anything I've ever done asides from being artsy and open to imagination. Also restoking a semi-dormant interest in pervasive games. Or I can be on a pirate ship. Or something.


* Are there particular ways Americans write resumes or cover letters that may not be obvious to a non-American? I spent 6 years in Australia and have noticed that job-hunting norms can be subtly different, and then there's all the field-specific norms too.
* How do I address the topic of visas? Do I indicate anything about visas at all in my cover letter? (The Semester at Sea app asks, but I'm not sure about the others)
* What are good places to find job listings or leads that may not be immediately obvious?
* I've had some luck getting roles especially made for me (the SOMArts internship was one they invented for me because I was uniquely able to serve their project in a pivotal way). I've noticed that the US - especially places like the Bay Area - tend to be more open to creative approaches to job-hunting. Is this observation apt?
* When do I start looking if I want to start work in July 2014? (I've started with SAS based on their recommendations, but am not sure if that advice applies across the board.)

While I am currently based in the Bay Area, and would prefer to at least be based there, I am open to moving for the right opportunity. (Or, in the case of things like Semester at Sea, the moving is part of the opportunity.)
posted by divabat to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your school ought to have a career center that can help you with resumes and cover letters, which are definitely different here than elsewhere. If there are any international students elsewhere in the university, the career center may be able to give you advice on handling visa status, too. And you should definitely be telling EVERYONE that you are looking, because connections through someone at the school would be really useful. Good luck!
posted by wintersweet at 10:32 PM on December 28, 2013

If you're not already, start going to mixers and seeking informational interviews. San Francisco is expensive, but Alameda County has a large number of sex and gender non-profits that could use someone with international experience as long as you can also raise money.
posted by parmanparman at 4:46 AM on December 29, 2013

Your cover letter should always mention that you are legally able to work in the US. This will help prevent hiring managers from tossing your aplication straight away because they dont want to get into the complications of getting a foreigner a work permit.
posted by monotreme at 10:50 AM on December 29, 2013

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