Yue Lyu

Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Rachel Navarro


This qualitative study explored the lived experiences of Chinese international students currently in search of internship positions during their Optional Practical Training (OPT) program after completing their degrees in the United States. Specifically, this study employed an interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) for exploring participants’ experiences during the internship-seeking process—encompassing aspects such as their perceived employment barriers, the impacts of this experience on their mental and physical well-being, as well as their resources, and coping strategies. A total of four (4) superordinate themes emerged from the results. Participants described their perceived external and internal barriers that led to adverse impacts on their emotional and physical health. Additionally, the participants also identified strengths, resources, and coping strategies that they utilized for overcoming these challenges. Furthermore, the participants reported gaining growth from various aspects after this overwhelming experience. This study served to address several understudied topics within the literature regarding Chinese international students—including their transition from school to work, the impacts of the current immigration laws, their internal and external resources, alongside their coping strategies. The study concludes with discussions on its implications, future directions, and potential policy recommendations.