Internship Guide For International Students In The US
Internship Guide For International Students In The US
Work experience is the hidden requirement of pre-professional life, and most modern career paths involve industry knowledge or specialized skills, which internships can provide in a hands-on, practical context. When an employer looks at your resume, internships would normally make up the bulk of the experience section.

Internship Guide For International Students In The US

Are you looking for your first internship in the United States? For international student internship requirements, follow our step-by-step approach.


Internships in the United States can be one of the most valuable aspects of studying in the United States for international students. Your first internship will provide the groundwork for your résumé and future employment opportunities. While preparing for, discovering, applying for, and, most importantly, landing your dream internship takes a lot of time and effort, the benefits are well worth the effort.


According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), graduating seniors who have completed an internship are 20% more likely to receive a job offer than those who have not.


So, if you're looking for your first internship, continue reading: Our guide will walk you through the most critical steps you'll face.

International Students: Internships And Visas

Remember that as an international student, your student visa establishes your job terms and circumstances in the United States, which includes internships. It's critical to know what your visa allows and doesn't allow in terms of internships if you want to keep your international student status at your US college or university. Each student visa comes with its unique set of internship requirements.

Students On F-1 Visas

The primary goal of an F-1 student visa is to complete a degree programme at a recognised university or college in the United States. This visa permits you to apply for an international student internship in the United States through your university. (Some programmes, known as Curricular Practical Training, or CPT, may even involve an internship.)


Your working hours are limited to a maximum of 20 hours per week on an F-1 student visa, and you can only work on campus when your academic year is in session. You can work off campus with authorization from your university.


Your internship must be connected to your degree and you must have finished your first year of university in order to be eligible for CPT. To begin an internship in America, you must additionally apply for CPT permission and receive a new I-20 form.

You can also apply for Optional Practical Training once you finish your degree programme (OPT). With approval from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, you can work full-time in the US for up to 12 months. You can seek up to two more years of OPT if you have a STEM-related degree.

Students On J-1 Visas

Students on a J-1 student visa are usually enrolled in U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs-approved work- or study-based exchange visitor programmes. Although J-1 students are not eligible for OPT, they can apply for Academic Training (AT) in a field related to their study for up to 18 months after graduation.


Applicants for a J-1 Intern or J-1 Trainee visa can complete an internship in the United States for international students without enrolling in a degree programme. Keep in mind that most companies require you to be enrolled in a college or university or to have graduated within the last 12 months to be considered for internship positions. A degree and previous work experience may be required for trainee positions.


Because J-1 students must be sponsored by an accredited educational or nonprofit institution, your sponsor may be able to help you discover internship opportunities. Some sponsors will include an internship placement as part of your curriculum, while others will charge you extra for this service.


Finding an internship in the United States on your own, whether you are an F-1 or J-1 student, can be difficult. You can construct a process to follow after you arrive in the United States by preparing a career action plan beforehand, and you can fine-tune your plan with the support of an advisor.

Make A Plan For Your Future Career.

Your career action plan outlines your professional objectives as well as the activities necessary to accomplish them. Creating an action plan might also assist you in identifying your professional talents and interests. Use your career action plan to narrow down your internship alternatives and identify opportunities that are specific to the career you want to pursue.


Prepare a detailed list of steps to do throughout your internship hunt as part of your professional action plan. This methodical technique can assist you in better scheduling your time so that you can balance your education and your search for internship opportunities.


Taking stock of your strengths and shortcomings, work experience, and interests is a useful starting step in developing a professional action plan. After that, you'll have a list to work with.

Make Improvements To Your Resume

In the United States, certain universities and colleges provide specific services to assist you in creating and maintaining your resume. Workshops on how resumes in the United States differ from CVs in other countries and how resumes are created in the United States are among them. A US resume, for example, does not include your photo or marital status, and most US resumes are one page or less.


If you don't know where to begin with your resume, an online search will yield millions of resume examples and templates. You could also get advice on how to write a CV from your career counselor or a Career Accelerator programme advisor. It's easier to apply for your first internship in America when you have an experienced companion.


Before you apply, have others look over your résumé. Negative criticism isn't something to be terrified of. Share your resume with family, friends, and career advisors. Request feedback. It's preferable to discover before you apply that you misspelled a word or omitted an important talking point.


We can also help you with soft skills that businesses look for in college students, virtual internships, F-1 and J-1 visa working circumstances, and foreign student internship requirements. They can also refer you to academic support resources, help you get a visa, and so much more.

Letter Of Interest For Internships

When applying for an internship or a job opportunity in the United States, you must send a cover letter along with your resume. The letter is normally one page long and includes a summary of your professional experience, abilities, talents, and hobbies. A cover letter is usually tailored to the job you're looking for, as it links your personal traits and qualifications with the role's responsibilities.


Support what you've provided in your resume in your new cover letter. Additional achievements or qualifications relevant to a job role that aren't addressed in your resume may be included in your cover letter. Finally, your cover letter is an opportunity to discuss how your past experiences and knowledge contribute to your future success in the post, as well as why you would be a good fit for the company.


Make sure to follow these guidelines when creating your cover letter:

  • List your contact information as well as the employer's details—Include personal information as well as crucial details from the company, such as your name and address, as well as the name or department of the hiring manager. If you think it's acceptable, you can also include your LinkedIn profile and/or links to your portfolio.


  • Address the cover letter to the hiring manager directly—Cover letters are written in the same manner as ordinary letters, therefore they should be addressed to the addressee. You can refer to them by their designation or department, such as "Hiring Manager" or "Marketing," if you are unsure of their title or name. (On LinkedIn, you might be able to find their official title.)


  • Write a clear introduction—In your introduction, state the position you're applying for, the firm name, how you learned about the opportunity, and that you're applying for it.


  • Make a list of facts about yourself: Tell the recipient about yourself once you've given your introduction, including your qualifications, knowledge, awards, and strengths. To offer the organization a better picture of who you are, use this part to quickly discuss your personal motivations, objectives, and future plans. Instead of simply repeating the information on your resume, use your cover letter to address the job role and how you would be a strong organizational and cultural fit. You might also include any extracurricular activities that are relevant to the employment requirements.


  • Finally, gently conclude—do not add any new material to your conclusion. Finish your cover letter by briefly explaining why you would be an excellent employee, expressing your excitement for the position, and thanking the hiring manager.

Searching For An Internship

You can start developing a shortlist of roles to apply for once you've finished your career action plan. There are numerous dedicated employment sites in the United States that advertise both unpaid and paid internships for international students.


  • LinkedIn is the current king of professional networking networks, and it's a terrific location to locate internships with major corporations.


  •— Thousands of internships for college students from all around the country are listed on this Chegg-owned website.


  •—Like, aggregates thousands of open openings and provides tips and templates for cover letters, resumes, job interviews, and more.


Take advantage of networking opportunities with your classmates, teachers, and even guest lecturers as you complete your degree. Each person you meet will add to your professional network and may be able to link you with unique internship options or perhaps long-term employment chances.


You can also take advantage of on-campus employment fairs and job boards to connect with employers near your university. Many companies that exhibit at career fairs and post job openings on job boards collaborate with colleges to provide internship or entry-level chances for students to get professional experience. You may connect with prominent employers in the US and even start a virtual internship from your own country with the help of ITPathFinder.

Prepare For The Internship Interview By Practicing What You'll Say In The Interview.

If you've made it to the interview stage, it means the recruiting manager thinks your application has potential. By preparing for the interview, you may ensure that you maintain your momentum.


You'll most likely be called in for a phone interview initially. Typically, your first phone interview is a general discussion about the position, you, and your background. You may also be requested to come in for a face-to-face interview or more phone interviews with other members of the team. In any case, here are some excellent methods for preparing for any interview:


  • Interact with prior interns—Previous interns can provide insight into the role and what interviewers are looking for in other students or young professionals.

  • Examine typical interview questions—a Google search is a good place to start, and you might even be able to search by firm. Make a list of frequent questions you expect to be asked and make sure you're prepared with responses before your interview.

  • Make a list of questions you'd like to ask— Hiring managers appreciate it when candidates do their homework before applying. Inquire about your job, your team, and the company's priorities.

  • Practice by having friends or family members interview you and ask you the questions you came up with throughout your research. The more you rehearse, the more at ease you'll be when it's time for the actual interview.

  • Dress professionally—This may seem self-evident, but when you go in for the face-to-face interview, make sure you appear responsible and professional.


Your university or college probably has a career center that can assist overseas students like you in learning more about how to apply for internships in the United States. You can visit the job center and work with staff professionals who can help you prepare with practice interviews, company guidance, and more. Working with career counselors is more beneficial than rehearsing with friends or family since it feels more like you're being interviewed by a stranger.


Also, remember to brush up on your spoken English and look up terms and words relating to the job role that may come up during your interview. You'll demonstrate to the interviewer that you've done your homework and are serious about landing an internship in the United States for international students by doing so.

Apply For Internships 

It's time to start applying for internships after you've made an action plan for your search, finished your résumé, and narrowed down your top options.


For international students, remember to apply for both unpaid and paid internships. While it is wonderful to secure a paid internship in America, they are typically extremely competitive, and many companies (especially smaller ones) prefer to hire an unpaid intern.


Many companies in the United States list job openings on job boards, LinkedIn, and other career-related websites. You may usually apply for jobs on these platforms by providing a digital version of your resume and cover letter (if applicable), however some firms may direct you to their own application site. Visiting organizations (especially smaller ones) and inquiring for internships in person might also be a realistic alternative, as you may be able to meet the hiring manager in person and establish a nice introduction.


Don't get discouraged if you don't hear back from your internship applications right away. There are numerous organizations across the United States that can provide you with unique chances and experiences. Keep a positive attitude, keep your choices open, and work with your adviser to discover the perfect internship in the United States for international students!


Consider following up on your application after you've sent it to multiple organizations. While this is not a required element of the application process, it can help you demonstrate your interest in the position and stand out to employers.


You can follow up on your application with an email or a phone call, but make sure you don't cause any inconvenience to the hiring manager and/or staff. Some applications may state that you should not contact the hiring manager after you apply, so double-check and honor the employer's desires.


If you decide to contact the organization, keep the following points in mind:


  • After you've submitted your application, wait at least two weeks before following up.

  • Be kind, succinct, and clear.

  • Reiterate your passion for the position and your interest in the company.

  • Only contact the person specified on the application as a contact.


When feasible, use email to follow up because it is the least intrusive method. If you must call, avoid the busiest times of the day, such as opening and closing.


If you have an interview, make sure to thank the interviewer for the chance in a follow-up email! This will assist you in making a powerful and favorable impression on the interviewer.

Be Realistic In Your Expectations.

When looking for internships, having realistic expectations will help you make the best choices. It's worth remembering, for example, that major and well-known organizations frequently have highly competitive recruitment, making it tough to land a job because there are so many individuals vying for the same post.


Applying for internships with smaller or lesser-known firms can increase your chances of being picked. Due to their smaller size, many of these organizations provide more specialized training and hands-on experience, allowing you to build unique knowledge and abilities.

Make A List of Mistakes You've Made And What You've Learned

It's perfectly acceptable for you to make some blunders during your internship experience at first. Even if you have previous professional experience, starting as a fresh intern in the United States can be difficult. It's crucial to be patient and ask as many questions as possible about your job and team contributions. This demonstrates your initiative to your employer and aids in your job performance.


Learn from your mistakes and seek advice from senior staff on how to deal with any workplace issues. You can build vital skills and experiences as a professional as you learn from your coworkers and spend more time at your internship in the United States for international students.


If you follow these guidelines, you'll be in a fantastic position to land your first internship in the United States. If you get a few rejections, don't become discouraged. Instead, see rejection as a chance to grow. Inquire with the hiring manager about what you can do to better or what you lacked in comparison to the other applications they considered and hired.


If you get the part, always act professionally and give it your all. A successful internship recommendation could lead to a permanent position. Whatever happens, researching roles, organizing your documents, and applying for internships will provide you valuable experience when it comes to applying for full-time jobs after graduation.


Are you looking for an internship in the United States? You probably have a lot of questions! Well, we have a lot of answers for you—and they are all one click away. So don’t wait up, get in touch today with ITPathFinder and get answers to all your questions.