How International Students can get an Internship in the U.S.
Internships are a great way to experience not only the (real) working world, but also give students the opportunity to see what it is like to be working in the industry of their choice. Being an international student, internships in the United States will provide you with an understanding of what the working culture is like over here, compared to back home.
We at peerTransfer have come up with an overview of how to get an internship in the U.S.
To answer the first obvious question, YES, international students can intern in the United States. The best way to start the process is to talk to your international student coordinator at your school to make sure you follow all the right steps.
If you are currently enrolled in a US school on a F-1 visa, you are allowed to intern 9 months after entering the country. Again, the process varies from college to college, but here are a few general steps:
1. Talk to your international students coordinator to see if you are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). The CPT allows you to even have a paid internship after 9 months of entering the U.S. The CPT requires that your internship is related to your major and that you receive academic credit for your internship.
2. Once you know you qualify for an internship, you need to start looking for them: You can check out newspapers, online job banks, internship centers, companies and organizations that interest you, etc. Then send your resume to your internships coordinator at your school, who is in charge of co-op and internship programs and apply to the positions you are interested in.
4. After you accept the offer for your 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, Optional Practical Training (OPT) is what you would be looking for. You will have to apply to US department of Immigration for approval to work in OPT. You will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that lets you legally work in the US for usually 12 months.
The rules keep on changing so it is useful to check the governmental website when applying for an internship.