Should I Stay or Should I Go Home? Career Guidance with International Students

  • Nancy ArthurEmail author
  • Sarah Nunes
Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


This chapter has two primary objectives: (1) to highlight the important influences that impact the career decision-making of international students and (2) to discuss and provide suggestions for the career guidance of international students. The chapter begins with a discussion of the changing global views about international students. The focus is placed on the career planning and decision-making needs of international students in higher-education-to-work transitions. Topics such as migration trends, economic contributions, immigration policies, and the idea of international students as preferred migrants are addressed. It is concluded that the changing immigration policies in some countries encourage international students to pursue employment and permanent immigration to these countries. As such, international students are no longer viewed as temporary sojourners. Host countries have a stake in keeping international students after graduation to address critical labor shortages and to take advantage of their knowledge of both home and host cultures.

Following this, the critical career-related issues for students as they approach the end of their educational programs are discussed. As well, students’ decisions to return home or pursue employment and/or permanent immigration in the destination countries are explored. Selected research on international students’ transitions from higher education to work clarifies the reasons for pursuing employment and permanent immigration. The key higher-education-to-work transition experiences of a group of international students who studied in Canada are presented. These experiences tell us that international students considered remaining in Canada due to the enhanced employment opportunities and high standard of living in this country. Relationship support to stay in the country was a key factor for their career decision-making. Finally, this section concludes with a discussion of the institutional responsibilities that come with recruiting international students.

The third section of this chapter addresses career guidance with international students and is conceptualized as best practices. This section is divided into four main components: (a) theories and models of practice, (b) clarification of values, (c) awareness and accessibility of services, and (d) job search and connection skills. Career practitioners should establish strong relationships with international students through which the cultural meanings of career issues can be explored. Also, clarifying fundamental values can help international students to explore how their values are related to career decisions. Further, career services must be accessible and relevant to international students and these services could aim to train students in employment acquisition and networking skills. The diversity amongst international student populations is also highlighted in the chapter, and new concepts and viewpoints are explored. It is suggested that career practitioners must be creative in the types of services and programming they offer to international students. As well, research initiatives should help to establish what international students need as they prepare for the reentry transition of returning home or pursuing employment and permanent immigration in the host country.


Host Country Home Country International Student Destination Country Career Guidance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Werklund School of EducationUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.University of Alberta Mental Health CentreAlbertaCanada

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