International Student Employment

International students can find many opportunities to work on campus during both the academic year and the summer.

On campus job opportunities can be found through JobX. Check out CXD office to learn more about finding job opportunities and career planning.

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 Exploration and Development, upperclass students, alumni, and potential employers.

View guidance and FAQ on OPT from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For guidance on OPT from Bowdoin Career Exploration and Development, 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 academic 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.

Career Exploration and Development 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).

Social Security Number

F-1 Students are eligible to obtain a social security number if they are in valid F-1 status and have been offered an on-campus job. F-1 Students can only start working on-campus after obtaining a social security number.

Once you receive an on-campus job offer, ask your supervisor to email a completed International Student Employee Data Sheet to and to Khoa Khuong (, Associate Dean of Upperclass Students, or Danielle Hussey (, Assistant Dean of First-Year Students, depending on your class year.

  1. The Student Employment Office, the Dean’s Office, and your job supervisor will each provide you with a letter verifying your employment on-campus. Once you receive the letters, call 877-319-3076, the Security Office in Portland, to schedule an appointment to apply for your social security card. Your appointment should not be earlier than 30 days prior to the start of your job.

  2. Complete a Social Security Application Form (SS-5). For Item #5, select "Legal Alien Allowed to Work." Print your I-94 document from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

  3. On the day of the appointment, bring a completed SS-5, I-94 document, your passport, updated I-20 and accompanying I-901 receipt form, and the three letters from the Student Employment Office, the Dean’s Office, and your job supervisor.

  4. After you receive your official Social Security card in the mail, please email the Office of Student Employment at We will initiate the hire for your on-campus position and connect you with Robin Saindon in the Payroll Office to schedule a meeting to complete your employment paperwork.

  5. After you meet with Robin and your paperwork is complete, please inform your supervisor that you are ready to begin working on-campus.

If you need help with transportation to Portland, contact Dean Khuong.