Being a student you usually don’t worry too much about getting a job later on in your life, let alone how to enhance your resume to impress future employers. While different countries have different business mentalities and employers might value one thing over the other, there’s something that always makes a very good impression – work experience abroad.
Benefits for the intern
An internship comes with many benefits and shows any potential employer that you had the guts and determination to go out of your comfort zone to get a valuable work, life and cultural experience in another country. You proved that you are willing to learn and do what it takes to educate yourself and improve your skill set. That increases your marketability and lets you stand out from the crowd. Most of all, you finally get to practise your school English in the real world while networking with co-workers on an international level. You might get academic points too.
Benefits for the employer
From an employer’s point of view hiring international interns creates a diverse team of employees with many different ideas and perspectives. International students offer a great wealth of insight and cultural awareness that can become extremely valuable in targeting consumers abroad. Most of all, students are extremely motivated and usually jump on different projects quickly to learn and gain experience, which frees up time for co-workers to work on more important projects. Companies also welcome the fact that they get to train talented young people, who might become very interesting for new positions in the future. Businesses rather hire somebody they already know and value, than somebody who just applied through the internet and is unfamiliar with the company.
2 different ways to achieve your goal:
Get help from professionals
Work with a placement company, that will help you with many things people struggle with, such as finding good companies that offer internships, getting the right visa as well as finding an inexpensive place to stay. There are quite a few websites that offer these services. Just google “internship USA for international students” or search for the same phrases in your language. It might be good to hook up with a placement agency in your country to better understand all rules and requirements during the process. Of course it’ll cost you. They usually charge by the month and you can see the actual charges on their websites.
Do it yourself
The other way would be to do it all yourself. It’s going to be a lot more difficult, but it’s not impossible either. You just need to figure out if you’d rather save some money or the time and effort to deal with multiple factors. Here are a few things you would have to take care of yourself:
Contact the international student service office of your campus to find out about the current rules and limitations, that are changing all the time. They most likely already have experience with other students that interned abroad and should be able to give you a pretty good overview on what paperwork to submit and what steps to take. Ask if they have any tips for inexpensive housing and what visa you will need to apply for.
Find potential employers that are interested in hiring interns on sites like:
Keep in mind, that many companies are just looking for cheap labor when offering internships, so it’s crucial to do your home work. Research all you can find about the company, but also try to find former interns of this company on the internet. Linkedin is a good source to find people who interned at certain companies and who you can connect with to ask some questions about the kind of work they did during their internship. That will help you decide if you would benefit from this particular internship or if you just end up being the errand boy/girl.
If you find a company that responds to your application, make sure to answer all their questions quickly to make a good impression. Slow responders are less likely of being hired.
Where to stay?
While the actual internship is the key factor of this whole journey, the next important task is to find an affordable place to stay. Again, reaching out to former interns online will be very helpful to figure out where they’ve stayed and how much it cost.
Check out homestayfinder.com to get a rough idea about the cost per month. Internhousing.com is a membership site to find housing for interns. Just do a quick search online to find more of these websites.
Once employer and housing has been decided upon, it’s time to get the visa process going.
You’ll most likely need to apply for a J-1 Visa. Visit the official J-1 website to learn more about requirements and the application process. Your employer would normally act as the sponsor for a J-1 visa, but this needs to be discussed after they decided to hire you as an intern.
A lot of international interns spend some more time in the U.S. to travel after their internship has ended, so rental cars, hotels and flights from different airports will be additional cost factors for your whole trip.
I would love to hear from people who have made an internship in America and would like to share some of their experience. Please use the comment area below.
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