Case study: J-1 program in Civil Engineering

A wide range of U.S. companies have developed formal J-1 visa on-the-job training programs. Many of those employers have branches or affiliates across the globe and utilize the J-1 visa program to train overseas employees at their U.S. facilities. What are the benefits to the U.S. company? What’s in it for the overseas employee? And what does the J-1 training look like?

We work with a large international civil engineering and construction services company. The organization has offices in Europe, the U.S. and Asia. In an effort to deploy the company’s U.S. methodologies and best practices on a standardized platform, and to develop future leaders within the organization, a select group of overseas employees participate in on-the-job training at the U.S. company. The overseas employees go through a rigorous training program that includes:

1. Orientation: this phase exposes the overseas employee to the U.S. company’s core operations and functions, customer’s business, management terminology and concepts as well as differences in legal and operational structures of non-profit and for-profit businesses
2. Professional development phase:  helps the participant learn about their own development and  management  opportunities within the organization and teaches a skill set required for managerial competence.
3. Leadership phase: participant learns about strategic managerial areas like goal orientation, planning, budgeting, decision making, change management
4. Project management: overseas employee is exposed to the tools required to work successfully in project management and observes cases, group activities and assignments related to project management.

The U.S. employer benefits from the J-1 program on various levels:
– Develop future leaders within the organization
– Ensure that U.S. methodologies and best practices are shared on a standardized platform
– The overseas employees bring unique perspectives and expertise to the U.S. company. The exchange of knowledge and skill between the overseas and U.S. employees significantly improves the skills of all employees.

The overseas employees benefit by participating in a training program overseas which exposes them to a different culture and knowledge. They learn new skills that significantly enhance their career potential. As an added bonus, they are allowed a 30-day grace period upon successful completion of the program. Many J-1 participants use this time to travel and explore the United States.

While this program was specifically designed for civil engineering and construction, it can be easily modified to accommodate training in other engineering fields as well as various other industries such as law, finance,  business management, consulting services, etc.

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