Internship Programme Guide

Wed, Feb 24, 2010

Internship Information

An internship programme is a work experience that helps people, especially students and recent grads, to learn important skills in a variety of fields. An internship programme may be especially useful for you as an international student because many times visa restrictions do not allow you to work. Since internships are often part of your academic career, it is possible to find one and not risk your visa status. You will also be able to gain experience, beef up your resume, and possibly earn some extra money. Let’s begin with the obvious.

How do you find an internship programme?

Your university is probably your best resource for finding approved internship programmes. Most universities have a career services center that can provide you with useful resources for beginning your search. Also, look on boards where people might have posted opportunities in your major department. Talk to professors and other university staff because they may know of an internship that has not yet been posted. One other option is to look for a work-study program on your university campus. Many times you will find something related to your field of study. Outside of your university, the internet and newspapers are great places to find an internship. Sometimes even contacting a company directly and expressing interest in interning for them is enough.

What kinds of internships are there?

There is an internship programme that fits almost every schedule. You can work during the summer months, and also fall or spring or year round. You can work in the evening after class or during the days or on weekends. Most of the time, when you see an internship programme listing the company will specifically state the hour requirements. Some of the most popular internships are in the summer because that is when most students are free. It is important to keep in mind that if you are doing an internship for credit, a certain number of hours is usually required. You will want to check with your university, especially with your advisor or department head.

Can you do an internship for credit?

Many times internships are available for credit. Certain majors require you to do an internship. To get credit for an internship, you will have to get the internship approved by your university. That usually includes getting your advisor or your department head’s approval and signature. If your internship is not available for credit that does not mean it will not still be a worthwhile experience. Remember that an internship is your way to excel in a given field by gaining vital experience. You will be able to put your experience on your resume and it will make you a more appealing job candidate in the future (Even in your home country!). There is always an advantage to doing an internship.

Are internships paid?

Sometimes internships are paid and sometimes they are not. Often times it depends on the field. Other times a small stipend or certain living expenses may be part of the program. Because of that, it is necessary to have enough money to survive on while you complete your internship. Just because an internship is not paid, it does not mean that it will not be a valuable learning experience.

When should you start looking for an internship programme?

Most students begin their internship programme search at least a semester in advance. For more coveted positions, you may want to start applying a year in advance. Most times, there will be an application deadline posted for the position and you will want to make sure to turn in all the necessary paperwork before that deadline to make sure you have the best possible chance of being accepted. As an international student, you may have to fill out more paperwork than other students. Keep that in mind as you apply and allow enough time to complete the process on time.These days, with our globalized and competitive economy, your experiences such as an internship may be one of the only things distinguishing you from other job candidates. As an international student, you face certain hurdles finding a job in the United States, and an internship is an excellent opportunity to gain experience and perhaps some extra money while maintaining your student visa status. Best of luck with your internship!

By Sara Beck. Sara is an expat who is living in Santiago Chile and studying for her MBA. Email her at sarabeck86@gmail.com.

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