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Recruiting Intelligence

Groundbreaking Data: International Student Employment After Graduation


The NAFSA room was sold out; every seat taken.  

That morning we really weren’t sure what to expect with our session being held in the very furthest room on the 3rd floor of the New Orleans Convention Center. And that convention center is one of the largest we’ve ever seen. Like, you need an Uber to get from one end to the other. 

We could not have been more thrilled with the turn out. What everyone came for: new data, never before collected, on what international students are doing after they earn a US degree. 

What’s been missing from our community’s conversation on the value of US degrees for international students is real ROI. Sure, we talk about ROI: “94% of our students are employed or pursuing advanced degrees 6 months from graduation.” But we’ve never quantified actual ROI...until now.  

Today we’re sharing a preview of new research on the career progress of international students who graduated from US institutions. (The full report will publish later this summer. Be among the first to receive this and 2 other groundbreaking reports by pre-registering here. You’ll also get our NAFSA 2024 session slides.)  

This NAFSA research report will be the first of what will become an even deeper analysis based on more research between now and 2025. We want to truly understand what a US degree produces for international students. Is it worth their investment? Is it worth ours? This is data we’ve been wanting to mine for years.   

Our next opportunities to meet! 

GMAC Annual Conference, New Orleans, June 19 – 21, 2024. Ben will be presenting on how global elections are influencing student mobility. More than just the US presidential election has the power to upend what students will choose to do next.  

EducationUSA, Washington, D.C., July 30-August 1. Ben and Viginia Commonwealth University SIO Jill Blondin will share insights on Navigating Budget Challenges in International Recruitment: Practical Strategies for Every Phase.  

Be in touch! We’ll buy the coffee. 

I was extremely honored to have presented our latest research at NAFSA last week alongside Dr. Joanna Regulska, vice provost and dean of global affairs at UC Davis. UC Davis is one of the 12 innovative and forward-thinking institutions participating in this groundbreaking study. 

Our research involved a 22-question survey sent to international students who graduated from our 12 university partners between 2019 and 2023 (see below for the full list). With a 5.3% response rate, 1,797 graduates from 131 countries answered our survey questions. Of these, 1,323 still reside in the US, 474 live elsewhere. 

What we learned will have a direct impact on international student recruitment, as well as offer perspective on US immigration policy. Data informs how we make sense of the world and move forward as a community and a society. The data collected encourages us to understand the value of CPT/OPT to our international students and the US.  

Laid bare: the real outcomes and the positive impact international student graduates are having on the US economy.  

For those of you interested in taking part in our next survey, be in touch at info@intead.com. So many of our higher ed colleagues at the conference raised their hands to evaluate participating in the next research phase of this project. Be a part of that! 

Below we share key takeaways from our research and provide you quick access to the slides from our NAFSA presentation. Read on... 


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The International Student POV...Intead Staffers Reflect on OPT


Tianyu Shen is a business analyst from China. Isabel Aucca is a digital campaign manager from Peru. These two members of the Intead team, both on STEM OPT programs through Northeastern University and Hult International Business School respectively, have amazing stories as international students, travelers, explorers, and knowledge workers here in the US.

Many of you already know Tianyu and Isabel through the conferences they attend for Intead and the work they do with our network. If you haven’t had that pleasure, be sure to introduce yourself to them at an upcoming industry conference (AIEA, NAFSA, AIRC, ICEF, etc.) These two super talents bring their skills to our work in their respective fields (market research, business and data analytics, digital campaigns development and optimization, and competitor analyses) along with incredibly valuable international perspectives.

Their comments below will quickly give you a sense of what it is like to be in their shoes and understand a bit more about what drives them. And since so many of you work to create fulfilling experiences for international students, we thought we’d use this platform to share words that will surely resonate with you and your team.

Opportunities to Meet In Person 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • AIRC Spring Symposium in Niagara, Canada, April 30, 2024
  • ICEF North America in Niagara, Canada, May 1-3, 202
  • NAFSA 2024 Annual Conference and Expo in New Orleans, May 28-31, 2024

Let us know if you’ll share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 

As you read the perspective below, consider what it is that drove their decisions to study and work outside of their home countries. Note the courageous decisions they made and the personality traits that are likely common to many of the international students you are seeking. It is these kinds of personal reflections that inform larger marketing strategies and help us create truly engaging content to attract future international students to our institutions.

Tianyu, who grew up in China, attended an English language institute in Boston before earning his undergrad degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and then his master’s at Northeastern University. As excellent as this background is, it does not provide andy indication of the genuinely joyful, energetic, and thoughtful person he is.

What he has to say about where he is now: “It’s human nature. When you receive something and people support you, you want to give back. For me, I feel so grateful for all of the education I received. It’s life-changing. And I’m grateful for all the people who helped me out along the way. Now, working at Intead I can help others who are standing where I once stood. I’m so thankful.”

The feeling is absolutely mutual.

Isabel, an undeniable dynamo from Peru who speaks three languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and English), earned her undergrad from the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima and her master’s from Hult International Business School in Massachusetts.

“Arriving at a place like Intead, it’s the purpose they have, it’s the type of company where you can be hands-on in every project – all of varying client scopes – and so many different ways to engage with the work. On one project I wear a digital hat, another I’m focused on research, and on others I get to be really creative about the overall marketing plan. That sets personalities like me up for success."

Isabel absolutely does her part to set us (and that means you) up for success, as well.

Following our recent #AIRC2023 full-day digital marketing workshop in December, both Isabel and Tianyu independently posted to LinkedIn about their experience helping others learn their craft during the workshop. This post brings their reflections to you.

Read on…

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