Many international students seek an internship in the USA because the economy is strong and the options are widespread. Here’s your guide to an international internship in America.
Internships offer a great way to get hands-on experience in your field of study while still in school or as a recent graduate looking to enter the workforce. Many students from around the world seek an internship in the USA because it has one of the largest economies in the world with a wide and diverse amount of top-notch companies. Additionally, the USA is a large country with many opportunities for exploration through different states, environments and cultures.
What is an Internship?
An internship is a period of work that is intended mostly for students to apply their academic knowledge in the workforce. Most internships in the USA for international students occur during the summer months, and therefore, last about 2-3 months long.
Internships for students abroad can be both paid and unpaid, depending on the company or program you apply through.
What Types of Visas are There for International Students?
As a student coming from another country to the USA, you’ll need to apply for one of two visa statuses to be able to legally intern in America.
Here’s a quick look at your options:
F1 Student Visa:
By meeting one of the many requirements, you can apply for a F1 visa, which means you’ll have to provide proof of financial support, acceptance to a college/university within your home country, and proof of your intent to return back home once the internship ends.
J-1 Student Visa:
An alternative option for students who attend school in their home country but wish to intern in America is to find a program sponsor to grant them a J-1 visa to fulfill an internship in America.
Why is an Internship Useful?
An internship is useful in any country because it provides you with practical knowledge and experience that will boost your abilities for your future career. It also grants you adequate time to network with professionals within your field of study so that when you are ready to enter the workforce, you have contacts with whom you can rely on to be references or even connect you to jobs through their network.
Internships abroad add an additional layer to the mix by opening the door to experience new cultures, expand your command of the native language of the country in which you are working (in this case, English), and will help you develop skills like independence, time management and perseverance.
However, moving abroad isn’t always a possibility for everyone despite the desire. That doesn’t mean an internship with an American company is out of the question; you may be able to land a remote working internship for an American country while remaining in your home country.
This setup would work quite like studying abroad or remotely online. For example, University of the People is an accredited American online university that is accessible to students all around the world who wish to earn their higher education degrees. The school has four degree-granting programs that span Computer Science, Education, Health Science and Business Administration. In the same way that a student from anywhere in the world can access education, there may be American companies that would be willing to hire an international student to remotely assist with work.
Types of Internships
There are many types of internships available in America as she boasts a powerhouse economy and is the epicenter of the entertainment industry, has booming hi-tech bubbles around the country, and is a leader in both business and health sciences.
Let’s take a look at some popular industries that are in high demand for both new employees and interns. It’s no coincidence that University of the People grants degrees in the following disciplines.
If you’re pursuing your degree in Business Administration, you may want to apply for a business internship through a program like World Internships or even create a list of your preferred companies and reach out to them via a cold email that’s tailored to what you can bring to the table.
2. Computer Science
With major tech hubs in Silicon Valley, California; Seattle, Washington and more around the nation, America offers a wide selection of internship opportunities for those majoring in Computer Science. You can search for them at GoAbroad.com or look on company websites who are headquartered in America to check out their opportunities. For example, here’s a look at Google’s internship openings.
3. Health Science
With a degree in Health Science, you have many options for careers including becoming a lab technician, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist, anesthesia technician, and more. For any career you may seek, a health science internship will provide you with hands-on knowledge and insight into the American healthcare system that can be useful for you to take back home to your native country.
For qualified students, teaching internships in the USA allow for international students to get experience within the American school system. There are various programs that students can apply through to make this dream a reality — one of which is the Center for International Career Development, which sponsors students with a J-1 visa to teach in America.
What Resources Can I Use to Locate an Internship in America?
Once you’ve decided the logistics of your internship, including the field you will intern in, the type of job setting, the visa status you are eligible for and the location, you can use various resources to help match your preferences to your possibilities.
Here are a few websites that are tailored to international students seeking an internship in the USA:
You can also search regular job boards like Indeed to filter internships by location and keywords, and then check their requirements.
How to Prepare
Firstly, be sure to write an American-style resume and a cover letter, which is your introduction as to why you want to intern for a specific employer and also offers brief insight as to why you’d be a good fit for them.
Because you’ll be moving abroad, you need to be proactive in understanding what is required for visa documentation so that the process won’t hold you back from flying. Look into airfare, housing, food costs and transportation to outline a budget of needs and a checklist of what you must accomplish before jetsetting.
If you’re using a for-profit internship placement agency, there will be a cost associated with the service, but these items are likely to be taken care of for you. If you’re doing it on your own, then write your needs down and research everything before applying for an internship.
Explore different options and states before deciding where you want to be. You can look at travel websites, blogs, online forums, YouTube videos, podcasts, LinkedIn articles, and more resources to learn more about different companies, locations in America and internship opportunities.
What’s American Workplace Culture Like?
There is not a one-size-fits-all workplace culture in America because aspects vary by industry and location. However, in general, Americans value punctuality in the workplace and when you are in the office, your time belongs to your employer.
Many companies offer amenities to their employees, like discounts on gym memberships or fun workplaces with events and professional development opportunities. The general necessities like water and coffee are almost always provided, and some companies will even cater in food or offer free meals.
In most businesses in America, meetings are commonplace, whether they be in-person or via video communication like Skype. When coming to a meeting, be prepared with what you’re responsible for (most likely to be noted on an agenda beforehand), bring a notebook and pen for note taking, and don’t be afraid to contribute! Furthermore, in most places, you can address your boss by their first name rather than “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Sir” or “Madam.”
Americans value work, and for the most part, take it seriously. However, there’s been a strong push towards a better work/life balance in many parts of the country as startups are popping up everywhere and the freelance economy is growing.
Ready to Go?
Does interning in America sound like the dream to you? The experience will undoubtedly push you to grow professionally and personally and the wide array of options is appealing to many international students.
Take your time to figure out what you want to do and where you want to be, and when you decide upon those two important aspects, then start preparing and applying! There’s no better time than now to begin researching more about internships in the USA.