OPTing in to Optional Practical Training: How UNH Franklin Pierce LLM graduates are finding employment in the US


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Fall and leaves changing at UNH Law

Originally published in Bar and Bench

About six months before he graduated from the LLM program at UNH Franklin Pierce, Mudassir Husain, LLM IP ’22, began looking for jobs that would allow him to stay in the United States to gain practical experience in his area of interest.

Fortunately for him, Husain had a head start in the search process; he was working part-time in the Career Services Office (CSO) at the time and had constant access to employment listings.

Mudassir Husain

Mudassir Husain

“I would go through hundreds of job postings online and select jobs relevant to fresh JD graduates and LLM graduates,” says Husain, who earned his Indian law degree from Karnataka State Law University. 

“This helped me understand the job market and the expectations of potential employers.”

Husain is among the many international students at UNH Franklin Pierce and other American law schools who seek short-term employment in the U.S. after completing their degree programs. 

One way to do this is through Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows students in the U.S. on an F-1 visa the opportunity to obtain hands-on work experience in areas related to their academic major for up to 12 months after completing their degree program. Students must complete a year of academic study by the date the OPT approval begins.

In finding and securing his job as a contracting associate at Mass General Brigham Innovation, Husain got assistance in applying for OPT from the UNH Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS).

“The OISS and Career Services Office helped me with the job search and OPT application process,” Husain says. “Neil Sirota, Assistant Dean of Career Services, reviewed my CV and provided useful feedback, and also gave me some advice about how to approach the employers.”

Husain was not the only LLM ’22 UNH graduate to find employment.

Mithra Thiruchangu

Mithra Thiruchangu

Through networking, including joining legal organizations such as the International Trademark Association (INTA), South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY), American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), Mithra Thiruchangu, LLM ’22 and graduate of Gujarat National Law University, was able to find a job as an intellectual property and identity analyst at Tik Tok. 

In searching for work through the OPT, Thiruchangu also says she kept an open mind about the fields in which she might work, which led to her current position. 

Like Husain, Thiruchangu got help navigating the job application process from Sirota, who counseled her on how to prepare her cover letter and résumé and gave her a boost any time she was frustrated with the process.

“The advantage of being in UNH Franklin Pierce was that it is a smaller school,” Thiruchangu says, “so the CSO was able to give me personalized support.”

The OISS at UNH Franklin Pierce is there throughout the process to answer questions and offer guidance.

Katherine Pereira

Katherine Pereira

“I applied to my OPT online with the help of a UNH immigration advisor,” adds Katherine Pereira, LLM IP ’22 of Brazil, who found work as a paralegal at Innovative Law Group in Michigan. “Applying online can be a little tricky. My advice is to apply as early as possible because it might take a little more than a month to get approved. Applying to OPT involves choosing a date for the OPT start. I chose a date over a month after my graduation, following the logic that if I got a job before graduation or a little after it would be easier for an employer to accept the waiting time until my OPT start date.”

Husain, Thiruchangu, and Pereira all advise patience and persistence for international students searching for jobs in the U.S. Though there was a temptation to take the first offer he received, Husain knew there was an ideal option available to him. Thiruchangu shared her résumé consistently, while allowing herself small breaks during the process to recharge. Pereira sent out more than 100 applications through Indeed and LinkedIn before finding her perfect match.

“Getting rejection letters is part of the process,” Pereira says. “Talking it over with friends going through the same process helps a lot to deal with the pressure. The most important part is to not give up and to keep applying.”

Here are the basics about applying for OPT:

· The application and paperwork needed for OPT involves applying via form I-765, which can be done online.

· Applicants must also show a valid passport, student visa, and Forms I-20 and I-94 as supporting documents.

The OISS at UNH Franklin Pierce is there throughout the process to answer questions and offer guidance.

Interested in learning more about the LLM programs at UNH Franklin Pierce and your eligibility for pursuing OPT upon degree completion? Contact Sarah Dorner, Director of Graduate & International Admissions, to learn more! Sarah can be reached on WhatsApp at +1-603-513-5300 or you can register now to join her for virtual office hours the second Wednesday of the month at 8:30am ET. 

The University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law has been a powerhouse for nearly five decades, pioneering the path to providing a U.S. legal education in global innovation through its top-ranked Intellectual Property Law program.