For college students who want to complete an internship, you might be putting off the search for this summer. But have you considered doing an internship during the spring term? It’s never too late (or too early) to start looking or getting that “real world” experience, especially if you’re graduating next semester. Employers may be likely to hire you for a summer internship or a full-time position after graduation, so spring can be a great time to get your foot in the door.
Having an internship in the spring allows you to maintain the comfort of living on-campus or in your off-campus housing, to have the support system of friends and professors easily accessible, and to potentially pursue other activities during the upcoming summer. Either way, internships provide numerous benefits to both the employer and the student. Because it’s a mutually beneficial situation, you should make sure you’re getting as much out of it as possible. By completing an internship, you can:
- Gain relevant industry experience and improve your skills.
- Expand your network, especially if this is your first time living or working in the U.S.
- Learn what it’s like to work in a real company, and apply what you learn in school to real life.
- Figure out what you like and don’t like without committing to a full-time or permanent position.
- Learn how to prioritize, since you’ll have classes and other responsibilities during the semester.
- Gain an advantage in the job market over students who don’t have prior work experience.
- Build your resume.
As an international student, you may encounter extra challenges in your internship search. Logistically, if you have a student visa but can only be hired for an unpaid internship; however, you can sometimes receive college credit instead. Accepting compensation can be considered violating the terms of your visa. Additionally, certain companies or organizations may require you to be currently enrolled in a full-time undergraduate or graduate program. Check out our previous blog post for more tips on applying for an internship with a student visa.
An internship can help you figure out if you want to stay and work in the country after graduation or for a summer internship. Either way, you’ll gain truly global work experience that will boost your resume.
In your internship search, make sure to utilize your school’s career center, meet with an adviser, and attend networking or career/internship events. Using LinkedIn is a great way to find potential connections at a specific company or in a certain field. Other sites like Indeed.com list many jobs, but it’s harder to get noticed with just your resume if you don’t have a connection. If you’re struggling with making professional connections or don’t know where to start, check out our previous blog post on how to network while in college.
Once you secure your internship, the first few days or weeks will require you to adjust to the work environment and U.S. work culture in general. This is also the time to have a conversation with your supervisor and determine what’s expected of you, and ask him or her for feedback and advice throughout your internship. Each time you meet someone new, introduce yourself and have a few words prepared about yourself. Keep an ongoing list of your projects, milestones, accomplishments, and responsibilities so you can update your resume accurately at the end of your internship. If you and your boss are both happy with your work at the end of your internship, don’t hesitate to ask him or her for a recommendation letter.
Have you done an internship during the fall or spring semester? What advice would you give to other international students looking to do the same? Leave a comment below!
Disclaimer: peerTransfer is not an internship placement company nor has affiliation with any such companies. This post is meant to serve as an introduction to help international students find resources for looking for an internship.
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