International Students Find a Warm Welcome at NJIT

Heena Otia came from Mumbai, India, to pursue a master's degree at NJIT.

Given its status as nationally-ranked research university, NJIT attracts students from around the world, 460 of whom arrived on campus today to attend the International Student Orientation. 

The day-long orientation introduced international students to NJIT and gave them an overview of campus life, student affairs, academic advising and a host of other services. 

There were a few undergraduates at the orientation, but most were graduate students, mainly students enrolled in master’s degree programs. 

NJIT has an international reputation, and every year several hundred international students come to the university for advanced degrees, which make them considerably more marketable both here in America and back in their home countries.  

The American economy needs more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) employees, and President Obama has made STEM education a national priority. Jeff Grundy, who directs the Office of International Students at NJIT, says international students are granted a period of time, usually 29 months, in which they can work in America. Many U.S. companies will also sponsor bright students from abroad, so they can stay on longer. America benefits from their skills and the students benefit from their work experiences.  

“Getting an NJIT degree as well as some work experience in America will make these students immensely more marketable in their careers when they return to their home countries,” says Grundy. 

Consider, for instance, Heena Otia, who came from Mumbai, India, to pursue a master’s in information systems at NJIT. Her professors in India suggested she apply to NJIT, as did a private college counselor. She did some research on American universities and put NJIT at the top of her list.  

The information systems program, she said, is a perfect mix of technical and managerial courses -- the subjects she wants to learn. She also heard that the Career Development Services office at NJIT excels at finding students internships, and she wants to work in America, which she believes has a more equitable work culture than in India, where women tend not to be treated equally.

“Getting a master’s from NJIT will make me stand out,” says Heena, who lives in Jersey City, near to Newark Avenue, a strip of Indian restaurants and stores known as Little India. “I’ve only been in America for a week,” she says, “but so far I’m having the best time of my life.” 

Like Heena, Puja Sawant also left Mumbai to study at NJIT.  The university had the master’s degree program-- engineering management --that she wanted. And a student from back home who studied at NJIT recommended it to her. NJIT is also close to New York City, where she one day wants to work. She, too, lives in Jersey City, a short train ride from Manhattan as well as from NJIT’s campus in Newark. She loves being able to take the train her favorite new city as well as to her new school.

“NJIT has the perfect location, which is a main reason I came here,” says Puja. “And having a master’s degree from an American university matters a lot: It will definitely help me get a better job.”  

Qiang Fan left his home outside of Beijing, China, to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering at NJIT. He says his professors in China told him NJIT was a great place to do research, especially in computer networks, his main academic interest.  A Chinese friend of his had studied at NJIT and recommended the university to him. He recently found an apartment in Harrison, which he shares with two other Chinese students. 

“I just met my roommates but we get along well,” he says, “and I’m looking forward to starting my Ph.D. program in September.”

By Robert Florida