GTRI Helps International Student Land First U.S. Job

DSC_0612Like many international students, Arjun Venugopal, a graduate student at Wayne State University completing his Masters in Manufacturing Engineering, was experiencing what most of us would consider a frustrating employment search.

“I had secured interviews with several companies,” Arjun recounts. “The day before my interviews they cancelled. I was told they were not looking to hire international students, and they do not do visa sponsorships. It was very disappointing because the hiring manager wanted to give me an interview for the position. It was an issue with HR.” Because of these experiences, Arjun was losing hope.

This past month, however, Arjun celebrated landing his first job in the U.S., securing a full­time paid internship with Process Control & Instrument (PCI), a System Integration and Industrial Automation engineering firm located in Detroit. He credits his good fortune to meeting Gracie Xavier, the Director of the Michigan Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI) at a Wayne State University Engineering job fair this past winter.

With Gracie’s help, Arjun was able to connect with an employer who understood his international student visa and was eager to hire him within its practical training provisions. After months of being turned down by several companies due to his international student status, Arjun was very surprised to receive a call from PCI to interview for an engineering position. He was thrilled to learn they had obtained his resume through GTRI. Prior to the job fair at Wayne State, Arjun had no prior knowledge of GTRI. He stated, “I was not familiar with the program but saw their name on the list and decided to stop by the GTRI table to learn more.”

Arjun believes GTRI has been beneficial in supporting his employment goals. He has had the opportunity to attend GTRI­sponsored workshops on career readiness, OPT/CPT, and tax preparation for international students. “The CPT and tax workshops are very helpful for students. I also appreciate GTRI’s effort to increase awareness among employers on hiring international students. International students are not taking U.S. jobs, but helping to expand the economy.”

Beyond the long-term economic contributions that international students make, they can be a critical solution for U.S. employers to fill unmet talent gaps. PCI believes that the success of their company in part is due to their efforts to utilize CPT and OPT STEM students to work alongside other experienced staff in meeting and exceeding the needs of their clients.

“We recognize that in order for PCI to maintain its competitive advantage as a global leader in our industry, we need to hire the world’s most talented and best-educated STEM workers,” notes PCI’s Office Manager Sophia Chue. “PCI has hired U.S.-born, foreign-born, and international students to maintain that edge.”

PCI’s COO Pa Dada says, “We support this method of recruiting raw talent and molding them for the needs of the company in our desire to maintain our motto ‘Leading the Way in Automation.’”

“Our most recent international student, Arjun Venugopal, is an avid learner and is being utilized in the areas of estimating, design, and programming for Instrumentation and Controls. At the rate Arjun has integrated into our environment, we are posed to ensure that we sponsor his H-IB upon his completion of his degree. Arjun is a great talent to our company.  We continue to work closely with the local universities and support staff to identify, hire, and train great assets for the viability of our company as we aspire to be a global organization in the areas of Instrumentation and Controls for varied industries.”


GTRI is a program of Global Detroit which provides international students and local employers with training and resources on relevant immigration regulations, information on finding a job in Michigan, and help with cross-cultural issues that both employers and international applicants experience during the hiring process.

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