What it’s Like to Find a Job as an International Student on OPT

Hi, my name is Nick (Krittawat Pattaramekanon). I earned my Associate of Arts degree at Shoreline Community College. During my time at Shoreline, I was working as International Marketing Assistant and Photographer. It was a very good experience to meet new people from many places and cultures. I started my first quarter in Shoreline in Fall 2015 studying ESL and Music.

Nick stands at the far left with the staff at a Thai restaurant

I applied for Optional Practical Training (also known as OPT, which is a program that allows international students to work in the U.S. after they complete their studies at a U.S. college or university) around June of 2018 and it took around 4 months before the card actually arrived. So if you plan to get one, apply early! The academic and immigration advisors at Shoreline can help you going through the process and documents for applying. Also finding a job is not usually easy. It takes time and mostly you need to go to interview at the company. Other than my current job, I also applied for Photographer jobs in studios, and as a car enthusiast, I applied for a position as a “Car Photographer.” Other than regular job-finding sites, it’s also a good idea to check your local Facebook or social media groups.

Point of Sale system

Before graduating in Spring 2018, I found a job as Installer for a Thai company based in Lynnwood, Washington called SmilePOS. We do Point of Sale (POS) systems for (mostly Thai) restaurants. The job was posted in Thai Community of Washington State’s Facebook Group. I started working in November of 2018. This job requires travel a lot. What I am doing is traveling to the customer’s restaurants, discuss with them where/how they want the POS to be, Install the system, giving them training, take photos for the interior/food and the rest is free time to go out and explore!

So far I have been to almost 30 states, multiple cities and countless miles across the country. This is the best part of the job. More than half of these states are the ones I have not been to before. One of the most memorable trip was one to Moab, Utah. I had spent a night in Denver, CO because my flight was canceled. The next day, I got on a plane and the weather was so bad that we needed to land at Grand Junction, CO. One of the customer’s friends was there so they picked us up and took us to Moab in the middle of the night. That trip I get to explore Arches National Park in Utah and it is very beautiful. The states I went to the most are California, Florida, Oregon and Illinois. I was amazed how many Thai restaurants are there in this country, especially in Washington State.

Arches National Park in Utah

During the time that I am not travelling, I stay at the company designing gift cards, doing graphic design, editing photos, making video ads and some promotional materials. It is a good improvement for the company to have quality photos for use on our website and also the customers’ ones. On some occasions, the company has participated in volunteer and promotional work. Every year there are Thai Festivals at Buddhist Temples where restaurants bring out food for sale and there are cultural performances to watch. I usually attend and volunteer to take photos there.

I would like to thank Shoreline Community College, which gave me so many opportunities and has very helpful advisors. For current and future students, OPT is a good chance for you to experience the working culture in America to prepare you to work or continue your higher education. Apply for a work permit, find a job early, and good luck!

Words and photos by Krittawat Pattaramekanon

Editor’s note: By starting at a community college and earning an associate’s degree, students get an extra opportunity to work on OPT that they wouldn’t have if they completed an entire bachelor’s degree program at a 4-year university! Contact us at international@shoreline.edu to learn more!

5 Reasons Living on Campus in a Residence Hall is a Great Idea

With a move-in date this September, Shoreline Community College’s brand new residence hall could be the best place for Shoreline students who want to engage with their campus, their classmates, and have a traditional U.S. college experience!

Here are 5 reasons why living on campus when you come to study at Shoreline is a great idea.

You’ll be part of a community

When you live in a residence hall on campus, staff work to help create a sense of community among the students living there by planning and hosting events and activities like movie nights and video game tournaments in cozy common areas like the one above. You’ll meet lots of new people and make friends that you’ll have for life. The people I met in my residence hall are still some of my best friends today!

Staff will be there to support you

Our residence hall will have a full-time Director who will live in the hall. Additionally, there will be four student Resident Assistants living in the hall to help you with anything you need. If you’re feeling homesick, you’re adjusting to your new life as a college student in the U.S., or you just want to meet new people, you’ll always be able to talk to the Resident Assistants!

There will also be 24-hour security in case of emergencies.

Students who live on campus do better academically

Researchers have found that students who live on campus tend to get higher scores in their classes than other students. They also show more development, gain greater interpersonal self-esteem, and generally report having a better experience with their undergraduate education!

Lots of amenities for residents

Because our residence hall is brand new, all the rooms are beautifully finished. Plus, they already have tables, beds, chairs, and all the other furniture you’ll need, so you won’t have to worry about buying any!

Students who live there will also have kitchens with modern appliances that will make even people who don’t know how to cook want to learn! There will also be a shuttle that runs from the residence hall to nearby supermarkets, so if you don’t want to drive or walk, you can just hop on the shuttle to get your shopping done. Residents will also have access to free, secure Wi-Fi. Water, electricity, and gas are also provided at no extra cost.

You’ll be right on campus!

If you enjoy having a slow, peaceful morning, or if you don’t like waking up early, living on campus is the best! It will take you 10 minutes or less to walk to your classroom, and you won’t have to worry about driving or taking the bus every day. And between classes, it will be very easy for you to go home if you want to do some cooking, have your own space to relax, or take a nap! Shoreline’s campus is also, as you can see above, a beautiful, green, and relaxing environment. It’s the perfect place to live!

Of course, these are just some of the great things about living on campus. Rooms are filling up quickly, so be sure to apply to live in our residence hall as soon as you can! You can apply at our residence hall’s website.

How a Shoreline Student Got Thousands of Dollars to Study Abroad

Growing up in Yakima and working on his uncle’s fruit farm, Logan Gamache did not think that he would one day travel to Cape Town, South Africa. Logan said, “I definitely would not have the opportunity to go without Shoreline.”

Logan Gamache photo by Rylan Good

This summer, Logan, along with other students and faculty from Shoreline, will do just that. They will study issues of social justice, equity, and communications, as well as learning about local history and culture. He is able to do this thanks to a $2,500 scholarship he received to help pay for the program.

Logan attended an information session on the program with Dr. Ernest Johnson, who is leading the South Africa program along with Dr. Elena Esquibel. At the session, Dr. Johnson shared a list of scholarships for studying abroad. Logan found out that, because he receives a Pell Grant, he was eligible to apply for the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which awards scholarships of up to $5,000 to help students pay for study abroad programs.

Cape Town, with Table Mountain in the background

After writing a couple of essays and a few months of waiting, Logan was notified that he would be receiving a $2,500 scholarship. He was the only student from a two-year college in Washington State to receive funding from the Gilman Scholarship for this application cycle.

So far, Logan has only traveled to Canada and Mexico. The farthest he’s ever flown is from Florida to Washington, which takes less than six hours. To get to Cape Town, he’ll be taking two back-to-back flights of more than ten hours each. He’s excited to explore a place so far away and so different from home.

Aside from the academic portion of the program, which Logan believes will be useful in the travel and tech industries he hopes to work in, he is looking forward to climbing the iconic Table Mountain and seeing breathtaking views of Cape Town.

As a player on Shoreline’s men’s soccer team, he will unfortunately have to miss a significant part of next year’s season, but this study abroad program funded almost entirely by scholarships is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” according to Logan, and couldn’t be passed up.

Since 2012, sixteen Shoreline students have received the Gilman Scholarship. In recent years, even though this is a very prestigious scholarship, about 50% of Shoreline students who have applied have received funding. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about studying abroad and scholarships, contact Cory Anthony in the International Education department at canthony@shoreline.edu or stop by his office in PUB 9302.

How a Student from China Became a Volunteer at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle (and Why She Loves It!)

Yueheng Feng volunteers at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle

I’m Yueheng Feng, an international student from China studying at Shoreline Community College. Five months ago, when I just arrived in Seattle, I was excited and eager to try to adapt to this new environment as quickly as possible. I wanted to get involved not just on campus with different activities but also in the community to expand my social circles. Luckily, I learned about volunteering at the Pacific Science Center from our China Specialist, Ms. Linda Du. She told me about what it is like to volunteer there and encouraged me to apply for it. Of course I would try it because I have always loved exploring in the science centers and I enjoy the chance to help others.

Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA Photo by Ron Clausen [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Very soon after submitting my application, I received an email for the volunteer interview. It was a group interview, which was not as intimidating as I thought. It was just an opportunity for us to meet the Volunteer Coordinators and get to know each other because we might volunteer together in the future. Some of the questions asked at the interview were difficult for me to understand in the beginning, but I tried my best to be brave in a group setting, shared my opinions and expressed myself in English. When I didn’t understand a question, I listened to others and then tried to figure out what the question was asking for. If I still couldn’t understand the question, I just asked the staff and they would ask me again in an easier way. I passed the interview and completed the New Volunteer Orientation in November! By now, I have volunteered as a Guest Ambassador for more than 20 hours. Because of a temporary change with this particular volunteer program, I just re-applied and became a Tinker Tank volunteer recently.

     Before I started volunteering at Pacific Science Center, some friends told me that it would not be easy to be a volunteer there. Even many university students and local high school students want to volunteer there, and I just started learning ESL at that time. I think being confident in myself is very important. I know this is out of my comfort zone and I still need to keep improving myself, but I know I can do this better and better!   

     The Pacific Science Center is located in Seattle Center next to the Space Needle. It takes me about one hour to get there by bus. Volunteers can get bus passes for commuting there. Whenever I’m not too busy with school, I sign up for volunteering shifts. Being a volunteer there is very interesting and fun. I like to engage with guests by asking them questions to start the interaction. There are also many free cookies, candies and chocolates for volunteers. I can also grab a hot beverage for free as another volunteer benefit. Of course the meaningful experience of being a volunteer is way beyond this. People at the Pacific Science Center are very friendly. Other staff and volunteers would help me when I don’t know the answers.

     The Pacific Science Center is a great place. If you want to be a volunteer, you should go there and try! I would regret if I didn’t sign up to be a volunteer there!

To learn more about different volunteer opportunities and apply online, just go to: www.pacificsciencecenter.org/volunteers/

3 Reasons to Stay in Seattle During Winter Break

With almost a whole month between Fall Quarter and Winter Quarter, many international students choose to travel, whether back to their home countries or around the U.S. and Canada.

But there are plenty of reasons to stay right here in the Seattle area during the winter break! Here are three of our favorites:

Go Skiing!

Even though it rarely snows in Seattle or Shoreline, and when it does it’s gone in just a day or two, in the mountains nearby, there is plenty of snow for skiing. From Shoreline, you can be on a snow-covered mountain in less than two hours.

Experience a Bavarian-Style Winter Wonderland in Leavenworth

See beautiful Bavarian architecture dressed up in lights for the holidays, walk through the snowy mountain village, or stay warm and cozy inside while enjoying traditional German foods and drinks. Or better yet, do all three!

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Seattle Center

Dan Bennett from Seattle, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Ring in the new year on the dance floor at a free dance party at Seattle Center, and finish the evening off watching the fantastic fireworks display at the Space Needle!

Why 2 Thai Students Fell for Shoreline

IT 1

Hello, my name is Thirachet Lapjaturapit or I/T. I am an 18-year-old student at Shoreline Community College majoring in Film Production and I am working as an International Student Ambassador for the International Education department. There are multiple International Student Ambassadors working on campus and duties vary for each one of us. I have a specific job as a photographer; I produce media for the department such as short introduction videos, interview videos, and taking photos of events around campus.

Tisa 2

Hi, I’m Tisa Somsap. I am also an 18-year-old student at Shoreline Community College majoring in Humanities. My job in the International Education department is quite different from I/T; I’m an International Peer Mentor. International Peer Mentors work in a team of 8. We connect new and current students with the International Education department as well as assisting the department staff members from time to time. Throughout the academic year, we organize events and activities such as International Student Orientation and school parties.

IT 2

I/T: I had no experience studying abroad before coming to Shoreline Community College. I remember thinking that this campus scenery is very breezy: the greenery, the design, it feels very comfortable. I have my own YouTube channel (IT’s Films) and I could imagine myself walking around filming a campus tour video at that point. I met many friends from various countries through International Student Orientation.

My fall quarter classes were ESL classes. They were honestly challenging for me; however, with the help of skilled teachers and the activities in class, I was able to improve. I have an opportunity to meet and connect with plenty of photographers outside of campus once in a while, and it makes my experience in Shoreline even better.

Tips from I/T: Stay true to yourself. Do not settle until it feels right. If you’re not certain about your interests, join clubs, make some friends, put yourself out there. Try something new to discover what’s the best fit for you.

Tisa 1

Tisa: My first impression of Shoreline Community College is similar to I/T’s. I noticed the trees and the unique buildings right away. I went to school in New Orleans before as a high school exchange student and it’s safe to say that Southern American culture is much different from Northwestern American culture, so I still had a little culture shock coming here. However, International Student Orientation gave me a great sense in what to expect from this community.

My classes in the first quarter consisted of English Composition I, Introduction to Communication, and Survey of Anthropology. They were very challenging, and I had to really step out of my comfort zone. After that quarter, I saw an instant growth in myself. I stopped doubting my potential but rather doubting my limits instead. I made the best out of the quarter by trying to socialize a lot with my classmates; now they are the group of friends I hang out with daily.

Tips from Tisa: Explore yourself and the environment around you thoroughly, whether that is the school or the city. Remember to always challenge yourself in order to see your full potential.

Shoreline Welcomes New Students from 24 Countries

Shoreline Community College welcomed students from 24 countries, representing 5 of the 7 continents, to Fall 2018 Orientation.

Orientation Crowd

At Orientation, students registered for classes, got set up with their new email accounts, and learned what they need to know to thrive as new international students. Plus, they got to meet their 2018-19 Associated Student Government President, Denish Oleke, who shared his own experience with them and inspired them to get involved on campus.

Denish Speech

Shoreline staff and student leaders also took our new international students on a tour of Seattle and introduced them to some of the most popular places to visit in the city, including Seattle Center, Pike Place Market, and Alki Beach.

Students on Dock