International Student Employment

Off-Campus Employment Opportunities

Students must have specific, government approval to work off campus.  Many international students find wonderful off-campus employment opportunities, however, it requires greater planning than on-campus work.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the most common category of off-campus employment for Bowdoin international students.  OPT is available only to F-1 visa holders.  In a nutshell, OPT is twelve months of time the U.S. government grants to F-1 visa holders to work full-time, without having to maintain a full course load.  Students must apply well in advance in order to receive permission for OPT and their intended employment must relate to students’ major field of study. 

Students may take advantage of OPT during summer and winter breaks throughout their undergraduate years, however, most students choose to save their twelve months of OPT for post-graduation.  Either option is permissible, but students should consult with resources in making this decision such as Dean Khuong, Career Planning, upperclass students, alumni, and potential employers.  For guidance and FAQ on OPT from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement check out http://www.ice.gov/sevis/practical-training/ .  For guidance on OPT from Bowdoin Career Planning, please review the International Students Work Authorization Guide

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is not offered to Bowdoin students.  Bowdoin’s academic structure does not meet the U.S. government’s qualifications for CPT eligibility.  Student requests for CPT to the Advisor to International Students will be denied.

On-Campus Employment Resources

All F-1 students are eligible to work on campus for no more than 20 hours per week when classes are in session and 40 hours per week during academic breaks.  Working on campus is the easiest way for students to find employment while in the United States.  Many international students seek out on-campus employment both during the year and summers as a result.

Bowdoin Student Employment is the key resource for finding work on campus during the academic year and school breaks.  Check their website often to see available positions.

The Career Planning Center (CPC) can help you navigate through any searches for jobs, internships, and career opportunities, on and off campus.  For specific guidance for international students, check out the International Students Work Authorization Guide.  This details important information about off-campus employment and visa regulations, including Optional Practical Training (OPT)Please note that Bowdoin students are not eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

student employment

Social Security Number

Anyone working, on or off campus, must have a Social Security number.  Below are steps for obtaining your Social Security number for on-campus work.  You will need:

  1. An offer of employment from your campus job
  2. Three letters that Dean Khuong will provide you from your job supervisor, the Student Employment Office, and the Dean’s Office
  3. A complete application for a Social Security number
  4. Your I-94 document, which must be accessed and printed from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
  5. Passport
  6. Updated I-20 and accompanying I-901 receipt form (F-1 Students only; students with other visa statuses will need to locate their official immigration documentation certifying their current visa status)
  7. Once you have collected these items, you will need to go to the Social Security office in Portland, Maine to apply, in person, for your Social Security number.  Please see office contact information below.

If you need help with transportation to Portland, contact Dean Khuong, Advisor to International Students.  You cannot make an appointment ahead of time for your application appointment.  The wait for your Social Security application interview can take two to three hours, and the Social Security office keeps irregular hours, so please check the link above before making plans to go.  All F-1 visa holders are eligible for work in the U.S.  If you are non-U.S. citizen and do not have an F-1 visa, you will need to check with USCIS to see if you are eligible to work in the U.S.

Important information for the Portland, Maine Social Security Office is as follows:

  • Location: Suite 150, 550 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME 04103
  • Telephone: 1-877-319-3076 (TTY: 1-207-773-3981)
  • Hours
    • Mondays: 9am - 3pm
    • Tuesdays: 9am - 3pm
    • Wednesdays: 9am - 12pm
    • Thursdays: 9am - 3pm
    • Fridays: 9am - 3pm
    • Saturdays: Closed
    • Sundays: Close

If you need help with transportation to Portland, contact Dean Khuong, Advisor to International Students.  You cannot make an appointment ahead of time for your application appointment.  The wait for your Social Security application interview can take two to three hours, and the Social Security office keeps irregular hours, so please check the link above before making plans to go.  All F-1 visa holders are eligible for work in the U.S.  If you are a non-U.S. citizen and do not have an F-1 visa, you will need to check with USCIS to see if you are eligible to work in the U.S.