Tuesday, February 10, 2015

5 Tips to Help International Students Secure Internships in the U.S.

By Ruohan Chen
World Education Services

Many international students find it challenging to secure an internship in the U.S. It’s true that as an international student, you probably need to go the extra mile to pursue opportunities in an unfamiliar culture. Whether you are a college student or just start grad school, gaining internship experience is very important for your career development. An internship not only provides you an excellent opportunity to understand what the working culture is like here, it also helps you connect with professionals in your field of interest. In this post, WES Student Advisor provides top 5 tips for international students to find an internship in the U.S.

1. Talk to your school’s International Student Office before you begin internship search. They are the experts on U.S. visa and immigration laws, so make sure you understand all the rules and restrictions for international students regarding on/off campus employment. If you are thinking about doing an internship off campus, you will probably need to apply for CPT/OPT. Attend workshops on the related topics to keep current with visa regulations.

2. Contact your school’s Career Center. In American universities, Career Services play a significant role in helping students determine and pursue their career aspirations. Take advantage of all the free resources provided at your university’s Office of Career services. Career coach can work with you to review your resume and cover letter. Attend workshops to build your professional skills. They also host career fairs on campus – make sure you attend those events to meet your potential employers and network with people in your field.

3. Create a professional online presence. In this digital age, everything is online. In order to stand out from the crowd, it is very important to build your professional brand even at an early stage of your career. How would you like your future employers and colleagues to perceive you online? Being authentic and professional is the key here. Start building your profile on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional online network. You can also discover internship opportunities there.

4. Reach out to people who work in your field of interest. Start a conversation about your career interest with your professors, classmates and alumni. You can also conduct informational interviews to explore your career interest and expand your network.

5. Volunteer outside your classroom. Sometimes people forget about how helping others also helps you – volunteering can be a great win-win opportunity for you to gain professional experience while making an impact on others. Before joining an organization, think about what skills you can bring to nonprofits and local agencies. It’s also a great way to meet new people who are motivated as you!

Last but not least, start early and be open-minded about different opportunities! As an international student, your unique global perspective will be very valuable to the company. So be confident and don’t sell yourself short.

Happy internship hunting!

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