Thursday, November 12, 2015

How to Land an Internship in the United States

By Prince Rajvanshi
Student Ambassador, 
Texas A&M University

Internships are not only a great way to experience the (real) working world but also give students an opportunity to see what it's like to work in the industry of their choice.

As an international student, internships in the U.S. can provide an understanding of what the working culture is like over here compared to back home. The U.S. is the perfect internship destination for anyone, whether you are just starting out your career or want to gain experience in a particular field.

Here are some steps to take to find an internship:

1. Talk to your coordinator to see if you are eligible for Curricular Practical Training or CPT, which is a type of work authorization that enables international students to participate in paid internships or other forms of employment off campus. CPT requires that your internship or job be related to your field of study and that you receive academic credit. More information on CPT can be found here.

2. To search for internships, you can check out online job websites and newspapers to find companies and organizations that may be of interest to you. You can then send your resume to the internships coordinator at your school and apply to the positions in which you are interested.

3. After you accept an offer for an internship, you will have to fill out the CPT form at your international student office and get it approved. Your employer and your internship dates will be recorded on your I-20.

If you are looking for an internship after you graduate, you will likely be exploring Optional Practical Training or OPT. You will have to apply to the U.S. Department of Immigration for approval to work in OPT, and you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that allows you to legally work in the U.S., usually for 12 months.

Advantages of finding an internship on your own:

1. Cost savings: It’s cheaper to find an internship on your own, as hiring a placement agency can be expensive. Many third-party companies will charge hefty fees to find an internship or training program for you.

2. Networking: If you conduct an internship search yourself, you have an opportunity to build relationships with others in your professional field, including your potential employer. Even if you are not offered an internship opportunity, you will have still made important contacts.

3. Future career preparation: The experience of searching for your own internship will prepare you for future job searches and give you the skills you need to find a great job after you return to your home country.

4. Motivation: Employers love self-motivated candidates. By contacting employers yourself and expressing interest in an internship, employers will see that you are an independent and motivated self-starter.

5. Independence: By finding an internship, you will feel a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement. It feels good to accomplish something on your own, and it’s important to know how to function independently in your future career.
Prince Rajvanshi is a graduate student at Texas A&M University pursuing a master's degree in management of information systems. He is expected to graduate in 2017 and previously worked on the online billing team of the company Accenture, after receiving his undergraduate degree from Jaypee University of Information Technology in India. He enjoys sports, particularly cricket and football, and his hobbies include playing Scrabble and Sudoku, watching movies and listening to music. 

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