International Students' University to Work Transition


  • Jon Woodend University of Calgary
  • Nancy Arthur University of Calgary


International Students, University-to-work transition, post-secondary


International students are increasingly seeking to attend Canadian educational institutions and the Canadian government has signaled its intention to make
international students an important part of immigration policy. Yet, international students often face barriers when integrating into the workforce and many decide to return to their country of origin. In this paper we detailed the preliminary findings from the doctoral thesis underway by the first author, including the results from interviews with seven international students who graduated more than two years but less than nine years ago. We used Interpretative
Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) and Systems Theory Framework (Patton & McMahon, 2014) to conceptualize the study of how former international students transition to the workforce. The findings from this study offered insights into the influences that were important as they navigated immigration issues related to their transition to the workforce.


Arthur, N. (2007). Career planning and decision-making needs of international students. In M. Pope & H. Singaravelu (Eds.), A handbook for counselling international students in the United States (pp. 37-56). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

Arthur, N. (2017). Supporting international students through strengthening their social resources. Studies in Higher Education, 5, 887-894. doi:10.1080/03075079.2017.1293876.

Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE; 2014). A world of learning: Canada’s Performance and potential in international education. Retrieved from

Denton, F. T. & Spencer, B. G. (2009). Population aging, older workers, and Canada's labour force. Canadian Public Policy, 35(4), 481-492. doi:10.1353/cpp.0.0036

Nunes, S. & Arthur, N. (2013). International students’ experiences of integrating into the workforce. Journal of Employment Counseling, 50(1), 34-45. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1920.2013.00023.x

Patton, W. & McMahon, M. (2014). Career development and systems theory: Connecting theory and practice. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

Pietkiewicz, I. & Smith, J. A. (2012). A practical guide to using interpretative phenomenological analysis in qualitative research psychology. Psychological Journal, 18(2), 361-369. doi:10.14691/cppj.20.1.7

Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. London, England: SAGE.

Ziguras, C. & Law, S. (2006). Recruiting international students as skilled immigrants: the global ‘skills race’ as viewed from Australia and Malaysia. Globalisation, Societies, and Education, 4(1), 59-76




How to Cite

Woodend, J., & Arthur, N. (2018). International Students’ University to Work Transition. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 17(1), 53–55. Retrieved from



Graduate Student Research Briefs

Most read articles by the same author(s)