How to Get an Internship in the United States The United States of America is often regarded worldwide as the land of freedom and opportunity. And while that may be true, the United States is a both/and country with a history of colonization and imperialism, as well as a vibrant and active community of organizers, activists, and social entrepreneurs.
As an aspiring democracy, the United States faces many challenges in social, racial, and climate justice, and while there are reasons to criticize the U.S. government, there are so many lessons to be learned and ways to engage in something meaningful.
Whether you are an international student already studying in the US or hoping to come to the US to complete an internship, there are many opportunities from coast to coast. Internships for international students in the US can provide an opportunity to develop critical skills, cultivate a network and define your path forward. Let’s see how to get an internship in the USA.
Can international students do internships in the US?
If you are asking if there are internships for international students in the US, the quick and easy answer is, YES! International students are able to complete internships in the US – from working with large companies to startups and in a wide variety of industries.
It is important to set your expectations for internships for international students in the United States. internships can help you develop your network and relevant skills, but some internships may be less involved based on your current experience and the needs of the organization.
When considering how to get an internship in the US, it is also important to remember that the work culture in the US may differ from what you are used to. American work culture can be quite individualistic and highly competitive (both results of capitalism), so be sure to make a plan to take care of yourself in and out of the workplace.
Developing relationships with your colleagues can help you gain a sounding board for obstacles and challenges that may arise.
Are there paid internships in the US for international students?
While you dream of landing your ideal internship in the US, you may also wonder if you can acquire new skills and get paid for your time and effort. Getting paid internships in the US for international students can be difficult, but they are by no means impossible to find.
It’s important to note that compensation for your internship will vary depending on the organization you work for, so if this is important to you, keep that in mind as you complete the steps on how to find an internship in the US. ON. .
Some paid internships in the US for international students may include working during fashion week in New York or Los Angeles, supporting marketing and communications efforts, improving your sales skills, or researching and working in science.
To optimize your chances of landing a paid role, be sure to brush up on your English skills and focus on vocabulary relevant to the field you want to work in. There may also be some work culture differences between industries to consider.
How to find internships in the USA for international students
1. Clarify your intentions and decide on a focus
Your first step in how to get an internship in the US is to turn inward and clarify your why. What do you hope to gain from your internship experience? Are there particular skills you want to improve? Is there a specific industry you want to gain experience in? Do you want/need to be paid for your time and contribution?
As you answer these questions, you can also note what your top priorities are for completing an internship in the United States. These answers and priorities will help you determine which internships align with your goals and intentions, which is a good indicator of which internships to apply for.
2. Consider location and cost of living
Location, location, location!
The US is a big country with many places to live and work. When thinking about which internship you want to apply for, you should think about where you might be interested in living, what you can afford and what facilities you will need. Larger cities often have a very high cost of living but have more resources, while smaller cities may have a lower cost of living but may not have viable public transport systems, for example.
This assessment may not apply to you if you are already a student in the US, but if you are still in your home country, it is good to consider where you can find opportunities and if they are possible based on internship pay (some are unpaid and the cost of life.
3. Secure your visa and consider your options
As an international student and intern, you must secure a visa for your time in the United States. If you are currently an international student in the United States, you are probably studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa. Using the international student aid office on your campus as well as the career center can help you determine your options for F-1 and J-1 visas.
With an F-1 visa, you can do off-campus internships through Comprehension Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT). CPT must be relevant to your education, while OPT does not have to match your studies.
J-1 visas allow up to 18 months of academic training, similar to the OPT option of F-1 visas. If you plan to come to the US only for an internship, you should consider the J-1 Internal visa or the J-1 Trainee visa.
4. Search for an internship
The next step in how to get an internship in the US involves taking all the information and reflection you have completed and using it to guide your search for an internship in the US. You can use the GoAbroad website to search for internships in the US as well as to find additional resources to support this process.
In fact, USA Internships and LinkedIn are also great resources for finding internships, as well as networking and researching organizations you might want to work with. You can use LinkedIn to build your professional online presence, which can lead to opportunities and act as an online portfolio.
5. Cultivate your resume and cover letter
Once you’ve found some internship positions you’re interested in applying for, you’ll want to tailor your application materials based on the specific organization and position. Most internship applications will look for a resume rather than a resume, so be sure to create a one-page resume that highlights your relevant experience.
When writing your resume and cover letter, you’ll want to include keywords used in the job posting (for example: strong attention to detail or balancing competing priorities and deadlines), as well as showcase your personality and what you bring uniquely on the table .
We encourage you to use the campus career center to assist in the process. These agencies sometimes offer mock interviews and resume reviews to help you feel confident about applying!
6. Search for an internship
So, now that you have—
- Set your goals and intentions
- Considered internship logistics
- Worked with your career center and international student services office
- Confirmed the process of obtaining your visa
- Set out a search for internships
- Developed your network
- Cultivated your application materials based on the specific internship listings
—You are ready to apply. Phew!
Some internships, especially if they are through internship providers (organizations that help place you in relevant internships), may have application fees involved, so make sure to keep this in mind.
You should take some time to celebrate all of your effort so far. You are on your way to landing your dream internship in the US
7. Prepare for your internship
Once you land your dream internship in the US, it is important to open lines of communication with the people you will be working with. This will help you advocate for yourself and give you the opportunity to share your goals for the internship with your supervisor. When everyone is on the same page, internships run much more smoothly.
Each workplace will be different, so there may be an adjustment period and learning curve. Give yourself grace, seek a mentor who can support you, and lean into developing the skills you are most excited to learn. Internships aren’t always easy or fun, but they offer a lot of learning opportunities that can help you make future decisions about your work.
Your internship in the US will be a transformative experience!
There is no doubt that your internship will expand your horizons personally and professionally. Internships serve as an opportunity to better determine what you enjoy and want to continue to pursue, and sometimes what directions you *don’t* want to pursue.
Each lesson is equally as important as you continue your professional journey after your internship. The lessons you learn, relationships you develop, and skills you hone will all elevate your capacity and contributions in your future endeavors. Good luck landing your dream internship in the US!