Curriculum Practical Training is Stepping Stone for International Students in the United States

Aug 30, 2021 by

Curricular Practical Training Information Session | ISSC | ASU

Many international students come to the United States to learn English. Living and studying in the US as a foreigner can provide invaluable exposure and learning opportunities to not just the complexities of the language, but also the culture and way of life. It’s the full package that can make learning English so much more rewarding.

Not all international students, however, limit their time in the US to learning English. Many seek to move on to higher education and ultimately establish career paths that can lead to jobs in the vast US jobs market. 

But working and gaining real world experience in the US as an international student can be a tricky proposition. For instance, Work Study programs at colleges and universities are only available to domestic students. 

The US government, however, has made accommodations for international students to work so long as the job is directly related to their field of study, and is arranged through the education institution which they are attending. They’ve even given the program an official name: Curriculum Practical Training(CPT).

According to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), “CPT accommodates individuals enrolled in a program of study that requires participation in an internship or practicum. It is not a supplemental training experience but rather an integral part of an established curriculum meaning it is a required part of the degree or program of study.”

With this in mind it is vital for all international students planning on studying in the US, and who want to work and perhaps go on to higher education or even a full time job in the US, to be very particular when it comes to choosing a school. 

The key, experts say, is to focus on schools that emphasize both career-focused education in the fastest growing industries, and the critical thinking skills that employers often have such a hard time finding. 

According to Ramon Flores, Director of Marketing and Admissions at Computer Systems Institute (CSI), which has six campuses in Boston and Chicago, “Career-focused education is about more than just job training.  It’s also about teaching students critical thinking, ethics, theory, and other valuable insights that can be used throughout their careers.” 

CSI, which has been in operation for three decades, offers courses in a variety of fields that have high demand for workers in today’s economy. CSI’s courses include, Customer Service Specialist, Hospitality Industry Professional, IT and Computer Technology, Administrative Assistant Professional, Small Business Administrator, and Sales and Marketing Professional.

Each of CSI’s fields of study include an ‘externship’ requirement that will place the student with a relevant company or organization related to their course work. Students can work anywhere from 20 to 40 hours a week, can be paid, and are even offered school credit.

“Externship offers students the chance to gain relevant practical skills by immersing the learner in an environment where they can apply the concepts learned in the classroom,” Flores said. “The aim is to facilitate the combination of classroom concepts with the application in the field, enhancing the professional skills and experience of the student in a successful professional environment.”

Daniel Cardona, a native of Columbia, has been attending CSI in Boston where he is studying hospitality. He applied to the CPT program through the school and landed an internship job as a supervisor at a restaurant chain.

“This has given me the necessary tools and skills to utilize my talents and engage myself in academic and practical work,” Cardona said of the program. 

Many schools that offer CPT programs also offer a similar US government program called Optional Practical Training (OPT). While CPT limits students to work during their time studying, OPT allows students to intern in related fields after their course work is completed. 

For international students looking to go beyond just learning English while in the US, the CPT program offers the ideal path to improve career prospects. Working in a related field of study offers real world experience, improves English language skills, helps develop important contacts, understanding of American business and work practices, and makes students stand out when they go to apply to colleges. It could also potentially lead to job offers in the future.

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