A summer internship is a great way to get started in a career field, and it can be even more exciting in another country. As an international student, it may take some extra effort, as the U.S. government has specific rules for students who want to work here. The process of applying for an international internship can be more complicated and tedious — but still definitely worth it — than putting in a domestic application, so it’s a good idea to keep a few tips in mind.
Speak with an International Student Advisor
First things first — contact your college’s international student advisor before applying for any summer internship for students. It may be tempting to simply chat with a friend who did a summer internship last year, but regulations often change each year. You need to talk with a pro who knows your options and can assist you with the application process, as there are particular rules and restrictions for international students. Talking with your student advisor is the best way to get accurate information on these matters because they work with students all the time. Advisors can inform you of what paperwork you need to fill out to get the ball rolling.
Decide Your Area of Interest
It may sound silly, but before you apply or accept an internship in the U.S., it’s important to know your interests or your specific objectives. Your time in the U.S. will be limited, so you want to take full advantage of a summer internship that advances your career — and perhaps even fulfills some academic credit toward your degree. If the top priority for your internship is to travel and see the U.S., and you aren’t overly concerned with career advancement, then you may be better off with a study abroad program.
Perfect Your Resume
he standard format for a job resume may differ from country to country, so make sure you get updated on the best layout for your resume when applying in the U.S. Just like any domestic student, you want to include your education, experience, volunteer work, and extracurriculars on your resume. It’s a good idea to contact career services at your college to ask about any specific structure that is needed for resumes in the U.S. versus your home country.
Nailing the Interview
You’ve sent in your application, and now you’re ready for the interview. To prepare for it, go over the reasons you want a particular internship, what you can offer to the organization, and how being an international applicant may help, such as bilingual skills. You want to make sure you understand the details of your work authorization and highlight your ability to interact with diverse individuals. Make an appointment with your college’s career services office to get in some extra practice before the big day.
Get to Know American Culture
you may have not worked in the U.S. before, there may be an adjustment period. Perhaps at home you’re used to working only in teams; in the U.S., much of the work you complete may be individual. As an intern, you are expected to work independently and take initiative. And you may be able to leave the suit and tie in your closet. American workplace culture is often informal. Check with the HR department before your first day to make sure you understand the dress code and culture of the company.
Celebrate Your Accomplishment
Summer internships for international students are often the experience of a lifetime — if you treat it that way. Continuing your education in the U.S. is an opportunity that not everyone gets, so be a sponge and soak up all you can. All the time and effort you put on the application process will be worth it in the end. There is no replacement for all you will learn during your summer internship, so don’t let a little extra paperwork or additional research dissuade you.
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