Navigating the Tech Recession

If you have recently received a degree in computer science or information technology & management and you have been on the job hunt, you are probably aware of the truth: it’s rough out there.

The media has been documenting the slowdown in hiring in the technology industry (or, the reduction in staffing in tech), and have dubbed it the ‘Tech Recession’. There are a lot of intertwined factors to why this has been happening including over hiring during the pandemic, inflation, and the rise of interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Unfortunately, this situation isn’t great for new college graduates, who are often coming into the job market with little work experience and in-progress skill sets.  In addition to that, slowdowns also mean that employers are going to be more selective in who they hire, and often the first category of candidate that gets filtered out in those situations is international candidates.

So, does this mean that all hope is gone??  Of course not!!

Look, it’s not going to be as easy as applying for 50 positions at well-known companies, landing 5-8 interviews, and getting 2-3 offers.  At least for now, those days are in the rearview mirror.  But, we do have some recommendations to get a foot in the door, develop skills in the workplace, and build your reputation as someone who definitely deserves to have a great career!

Consider opportunities with staffing firms

Contract roles, which are temporary roles for a fixed period of time, are a great way to get a foot in the door.  Companies often use staffing firms to recruit and hire for these roles during times when full-time hiring is low – it gives companies a chance to evaluate candidates for full-time roles that may open while also taking away a lot of the stress of HR functions.

As international students on F-1 visas hoping to build careers in technology, recessions can pose particular concerns around legal work status and OPT timelines. Partnering with staffing firms provides unique benefits. Most contract roles qualify as valid practical training, allowing you to gain experience while receiving income and maintaining visa status. Staffing firm partnerships also provide better OPT status protection if client budgets cut full-time jobs. Rather than scrambling to find new sponsors, established staffing relationships smooth transitions to new contracts. Their networks may even support H-1B sponsorships. When hiring freezes otherwise exclude international talent, staffing firms keep doors open. As graduating students, when you are trying to break into a turbulent industry, leveraging these partnerships is a proactive strategy. Taking initiative to demonstrate skills and adaptability will serve your resilience and employability regardless of unsecure conditions. However, beware of unsolicited offers too good to be true or demanding upfront fees, which signals potential scams. Protect personal identification information and banking information until verifying credibility.

Look at opportunities with nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions

Beyond corporate staffing firms, we recommend you to also consider non-profit organizations and higher education institutions. These mission-driven sectors provide valuable skill-building opportunities through contracted roles, which can be through staffing partner facilitation. Furthermore, many universities recruit international talent, providing a pipeline to professorial careers otherwise hard to access given temporary work status. These partnerships operate annually for steady talent engagement, in contrast with private industry where hiring freezes. With such opportunities, you can gain teaching and research experience, publish works, and strengthen your H-1B status or permanent residency application case. Roles in non-profits and higher education also offer cap-exempt H-1B hiring not subject to annual visa quotas.

Wondering where to look to access these cap exempt opportunities?  Check out our platform Interstride, which helps international students navigate the job market and job-related immigration issues.

Continue to build skill sets while seeking opportunities

We always suggest you guys to never stop learning and growing your skill set. The period of time when you are job seeking gives you the buffer to enrich your skills.

You can consider:

  • Using campus resources like the makerspace in Kaplan Institute to build hands-on skills and portfolios showcasing personal projects and creativity.
  • Attending networking events on-campus, off-campus, and virtually to make new connections
  • Seeking informal mentorships with professors and alumni at firms of interest
  • Taking open online classes through platforms like Coursera
  • Enrolling in additional certifications like technical bootcamps to showcase qualification and certification.
  • Building a personal coding project and sharing that code publicly through a GitHub profile
  • Honing your analytical skills, soft skills in communication, and leadership

Stay driven towards your career goals while exploring new learning opportunities. Your efforts today will enable your success tomorrow.

Apply for micro-internships

Parker Dewey is a platform that connects students and companies on short-term paid projects, typically 5-40 total in length.  Companies often use these micro-internships as a way of evaluating candidates beyond an interview process.  For international students, micro-internships are often too short of experiences for CPT, but they can definitely be done while on OPT.

Getting started is easy.  Sign up for Parker Dewey at  Create a profile, upload your resume, and start applying for opportunities.  Since a part of Parker Dewey’s mission is to lower the barriers between employers and students, the timeline from applying to starting a project can be very quick!

Build the right mindset

Being a new graduate is undoubtedly challenging amid economic instability. Anyone is bound to have sadness, frustration, and negative perspectives when things don’t go your way. However, you have power over your mindset. Rather than fixating on what didn’t work out, focus on your passions and skills. The law of attraction manifests when consciousness craves for positivity. Know that despite widespread hiring freezes, many persistently optimistic students still land fruitful roles through diligent networking. Stay encouraged by their stories. Your circumstances cannot limit you without your permission. Maintain self-belief, proactive learning and outreach. With strategic initiative and willful optimism, you will uncover possibilities leading to your definition of career success. How you see your path forward makes all the difference.

A book we would recommend is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck.  You can watch this talk by her to get a sense of her mindset approach.

Have other ideas that you’ve heard to be successful? Please let us know so we can share with students!

Please keep in mind that Illinois Tech Career Services is always here to help you and talk through your unique job search experience.  Don’t hesitate to set up a 1-on-1 appointment with us!

Best of luck in your search!

Bhavesh Rajesh Talreja

By Bhavesh Rajesh Talreja
Bhavesh Rajesh Talreja