We want as many people around the world as possible to have the opportunity to gain professional experience in the American workplace. While we provide J-1 Visa services for those that have been offered an internship or training assignment in the United States (and do offer customized placements for select initiatives), the demand is sky-high and we aren’t always able to find that internship for everyone.
Finding an internship, especially overseas, can be difficult. Here are some tips for how to find and secure an internship or training program in the United States.
1) Do Your Research
Finding the right internship that will enhance your current skills can be a time-consuming task. Look at a number of different types of organizations (private for-profit businesses, nonprofits, government organizations) and try to determine what type of culture might be a good fit.
Once you have established the type of organization you are interested in working for, start monitoring job websites where internships are frequently posted. Don’t be afraid to also send emails to companies asking if they would be able to accommodate you as a J-1 intern or trainee.
There are a number of great websites to look for internships in a variety of sectors. These sites will often allow you to narrow your search by location, industry, or other keywords:
- Global Jobs
- Global Experiences
And remember, if you identify a company you’d like to pursue, be sure to try to learn as much about it as you can. Does the company have a history of hiring people with your background? Who will you work with if you land the job?
Signing up for an online newsletter and mining social media (both the company’s own channels and what’s said about them elsewhere online) is a great way to learn about an organization’s culture and recent initiatives.
2) Build Relationships
Relationships are one of the best ways to find an internship and open doors. Start to talk with colleagues at work about connections they might have in different companies. Talk to your professors about ways to gain additional training that relates to your coursework. Ask friends, family, and neighbors who may have connections, or possibly work in, the field that you are interested in.
Universities and colleges often offer internship and job posting sites for current students and alumni. Check out your school’s career services and meet with counselors to learn about ways to get internships and tools to help market yourself professionally.
3) Develop a Main Focus
What are you hoping to learn from this experience? Why do you want to intern in a specific industry? How will it help you after the program is over?
All of these questions will help you be able to formulate cover letters and emails to organizations. Being able to have a short appeal of why you want to intern with a specific company is very useful to be able to use when competing for internships with others. You want this to set you apart from all the other candidates and really show why you should be picked for the internship.
4) Sharpen your Online Presence
These days, your online appearance can often be the determining factor in whether or not you land that desired position. What’s the first thing you do when you seek to learn more about someone? Well, you can bet hiring managers often will follow a similar approach in using the web as a place to search for talent and conduct background searches on potential candidates.
If you have not already done so, you should develop a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a social media platform where you can to create a digital resume, collect letters of recommendation, showcase work sample, and gather endorsements for your knowledge and different skills. Not only is LinkedIn useful for future employers to learn about you, but it also offers access to job postings and internship lists.
Perhaps most importantly, it provides a convenient means of staying in touch with your professional connections and, with nearly 400 million users, using your contacts to build and expand your network.
Often, as the old adage goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.
5) Submit your Application
When submitting an application for an internship, make sure you include all of the requested information. This includes items such as your resume, a cover letter, contact information for references, and a writing sample. Ensure that all these documents are polished and thoroughly proofread. Don’t leave any stone unturned!
If a company has not posted information about an internship, but you would like to do your training with them, don’t be afraid to send someone in the company an email asking if they would be willing to host you. Companies will either offer to host you or will refer you to similar organizations. Sometimes asking can be a great way to open doors and find out more about internships in your field of study or expertise.
Found that internship and looking for a J-1 Visa? We can help.