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9 Tips for Securing Internship in the United States

05 May 2023By Team J1X

If you are coming to the United States solely to undertake an internship, the J-1 visa is likely the best option for you. The J-1 visa is designed for exchange visitors, including students, researchers, and trainees.

To obtain a J-1 visa for an internship, you will need to find a sponsor organization that is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to issue DS-2019 forms. These organizations include universities, government agencies, and private companies. The sponsor organization will issue you a DS-2019 form, which you will need to present when applying for your J-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

One important thing to note is that there are limitations on what kind of work you can do on a J-1 visa. Your internship must be related to your field of study, and you cannot displace a U.S. worker. Besides, your internship cannot be in the fields of aviation, transportation, or national security.

If you’re interested in undertaking an internship in the United States, the following tips will make your life easier: 

  1. Craft an American-style resume and cover letter

To increase your chances of landing an internship in the United States, it’s crucial to create a resume and cover letter that adhere to American standards. 

Your resume should highlight your educational background and work experience, focusing on how your skills align with the employer’s needs. Avoid centering on your personal career goals and instead demonstrate how you can add value to the company.

  1. Take a proactive approach

Finding an internship in the US takes effort and persistence. You can begin by searching online job and intern databases, but don’t stop there. Let your friends, family, colleagues, and teachers know about your search for an internship. Networking is a powerful tool in securing an internship opportunity.

  1. Improve your English language skills

Clear communication is key during an interview. Given the competition for internships, poor English skills could eliminate you from consideration. Invest time in improving your language proficiency through reading, writing, and speaking.

  1. Be realistic

Understand that the internship position you secure will likely be a starting point. If you’re new to the workforce, don’t expect to be given substantial responsibility. Additionally, if you’re not confident in your phone skills, don’t seek a role that requires a lot of phone work. Set reasonable expectations and work your way up the ladder.

  1. Start early and plan ahead

Finding an internship in the United States is a process that can take several months, so it is important to begin the search at least six months before the intended start date. Additionally, there are several expenses associated with internships, such as visa fees, travel expenses, accommodation, and food.

 While paid internships can help cover these costs, unpaid internships may not. Therefore, it is advisable to start saving money as early as possible to cover these expenses.

  1. View internships as educational investments

Many students expect to earn a substantial amount of money from internships, but the reality is that internships are more like educational investments for future careers. Interns gain practical, hands-on training in the real world that supplements academic studies. 

Therefore, the focus should not be on earning money, but on acquiring practical skills that can enhance future career prospects.

  1. Consider companies of different sizes

While big companies with well-known names may seem like the ideal choice for internships, small and medium-sized companies often offer interns more responsibility and exposure to challenging projects. Interns are also likely to receive greater attention and mentorship in smaller companies.

  1. Explore different regions of the United States

There are thousands of internship opportunities available in different locations throughout the United States. Instead of just focusing on big cities such as New York or Los Angeles, it is also worth exploring other regions. Smaller cities may offer lower living costs, but may also require a car or bicycle to get around. The climate is also an important factor to consider when selecting a region.

  1. Be proactive and embrace challenges

Initiating conversations with potential employers, exploring new ideas, and being adaptable are qualities that make for successful interns. If you’re not prepared to take the initiative and expect a seamless experience, gaining more experience in your home country may be worthwhile before pursuing an international internship.

Perks of internship in the US

  • Pursuing an internship in the US can enhance both your professional and personal life.
  • Interning in the USA can improve your English language skills, which are highly valued by companies.
  • Participating in an internship in the USA can help you gain valuable work experience that could be crucial for meeting future job requirements.
  • Interning at American companies can expose you to a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, including various functions and areas of work.
  • Interacting and learning from experienced professionals is another significant benefit of interning in the USA.
  • Interning and living in the USA can help you develop your self-confidence, as you will be navigating a new environment and culture.
  • Internships offer students the opportunity to gain practical work experience, expand their network, and potentially secure a job offer after graduation.
  • A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 56% of graduating seniors who completed a paid internship received a job offer, compared to only 37% of students who did not participate in an internship.

Understand the J-1 visa process

The J-1 visa allows you to legally intern in the United States for up to 12 months (18 months for J-1 visa trainees). The U.S. State Department maintains a list of designated J-1 Visa sponsors who can assist you in obtaining your visa. Researching and understanding the J-1 process will help you find the right organization that can provide the services you need.

Obtaining a J-1 student visa allows students to enroll in work- or study-based exchange visitor programs that are approved by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. While J-1 students are not eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), they can apply for Academic Training (AT) for up to 18 months after graduation in a field related to their program.

If you are an international student without enrolling in a degree program, you can choose to apply for a J-1 Intern or J-1 Trainee visa to complete an internship in the USA. It’s important to note that for internship roles, most businesses require you to be enrolled in a college or university or have graduated within the last 12 months, while trainee roles may require a degree and previous working experience.

Since J-1 students require sponsorship from an accredited educational or nonprofit institution, you may be able to find internship placements through your sponsor. Some sponsors may include an internship placement as part of your program, while others may provide this as a service for an additional fee.

Whether you hold an F-1 or J-1 student visa, securing an internship in the US on your own can be difficult. To alleviate this challenge, it is recommended to prepare a career action plan in advance and seek guidance from an advisor to fine-tune your plan after arriving in the States.

Additional insights:

  • To be successful in your internship, make sure to establish clear communication with your supervisor and colleagues. Ask questions and seek feedback regularly.
  • Networking and building relationships with professionals in your field can also be a valuable part of your internship experience. Attend events and join professional organizations to expand your network.
  • Consider taking advantage of any cultural activities or events in the area to immerse yourself in American culture and gain a broader perspective.

Other considerations

Once you have a visa, there are a few other things to consider when looking for an internship in the United States. Here are a few tips:

  • Start early: Many companies start recruiting for internships months in advance, so start your search early to give yourself the best chance of finding a good fit.
  • Network: Reach out to alumni from your university, join professional organizations in your field, and attend networking events to expand your opportunities.
  • Be flexible: Be open to internships in different locations and industries to increase your chances of finding an opportunity.
  • Do your research: Research the companies you are interested in and tailor your application to their needs.
  • Be prepared: Make sure you have a strong resume and cover letter, and be ready to interview via phone or video chat.

Interning in the United States can be a great way to gain valuable experience and build your professional network. By understanding the visa options available to you and following these tips, you can increase your chances of landing an internship in the United States. 

Finally, don’t forget to contact us for objective guidance and resources. We make it super easy for international students to explore and find perfect internship opportunities in US organizations while securing their J-1 internship visa. 

A brief introduction to J-1 visa exchange visitor program

The J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program is an initiative by the U.S. Department of State that allows non-U.S. citizens to participate in various activities such as working, learning, teaching, researching, consulting, and more in the United States. This program aims to promote the exchange of skills and knowledge in the fields of art, education, and science.

The J-1 Visa program has several sponsors designated by private and public entities that offer different exchange visitor programs. The eligibility criteria for each program category may vary, but all participants must be proficient in English and meet certain insurance requirements, such as having medical insurance that meets the minimum benefit levels required by the program regulations.

Participating in the J-1 Visa program is an excellent opportunity to experience life and work in the United States while gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a particular field. It is an excellent way to learn and grow both personally and professionally.
Contact J1 Visa Exchanges if you’re passionate about working as an intern in the United States!

Team J1X

Team J1X

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