Even after going through the process, it is not certain you would get the internship you wanted. It is better though to improve your chances by following these guidelines.
But first, why is an internship important? And why do you even need it as an international student in the US?
Advantages of an internship
1. Supplement your income – one of the main advantages of an internship is the extra money in your bank account if the job is a paid internship.
As an international student, you would need all the money you can lay your hands on to make your stay more comfortable.
2. In all cases, internship for international students must be done in a sector related to the course of study. This is a good way to have practical experience of what you are studying at school.
3. The hands-on experience is valuable in getting to know how a real American workplace operates. This experience can be handy if you intend to work in the US when you graduate.
4. The experience you get at your internship can be used to bolster your resume or CV. With that, your chances of getting a job after graduation would be enhanced by your job experience.
The idea of internship though does not sit down well with some people. For instance, they insist most internships are a waste of time (especially unpaid internships) and employers take advantage of the interns by giving them too much work to do while paying a pittance in most cases.
That said, the pros of doing an internship anywhere outweighs the cons. That is why internship is one of the most popular ways of getting job experience for students and graduates.
How to get an internship with your F-1 US visa
Basically, you need to be a full-time student with an F-1 student visa before you can apply for internship. But, you actually become eligibility for internship only after 9 months studying and staying in the US.
Depending on the University or college you are attending, there could be some minor variations in the process. So the most crucial part of the process is to inquire about the availability or not of internship from the international student office of your school.
Your international student coordinator should be able to tell you what you need to know and all the right steps to follow.
Generally, applying for all internships for international students in the US follow these steps:
1. Find out your eligibility for Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
Curricular Practical Training in the US is an integral part of a student’s education. It can either be compulsory or optional. It involves joining an organization or institution as an intern staff for a limited period of time.
Your international student office would be able to inform you about your CPT status. In most cases, the CPT must be done in an establishment related to your course of study and at the end, you are most likely given academic credits for the internship period by your school.
2. Searching for suitable internship programs
If you are qualified for an internship, the next step is to start looking for organizations with internship programs related to your field of study.
The obvious places to start looking are newspapers ads, online job sites, and the websites of companies that interest you to see if they have an intern program in place.
The best places to search though are internship centers around the US. Naturally, you would narrow your search to places close to your location for obvious reasons
3. Send your resume and apply
Once you’ve picked a place to do your internship you need to send in your resume and application to the organization.
If you are accepted, then you would need to inform the CPT coordinator of your school about it. You would be given forms to fill out so it can be integrated into your academic work.
Your employer and the date of your internship would be recorded on your the I-20 form.
The I-20 form was given to you by your school after you gained admission. Without it, you couldn’t have got a student visa or be allowed to enter the US.
There, you have now completed the process of getting an internship in the US. The rules for getting a CPT internship can change at any moment. So it is best to keep abreast of the latest information by checking the government website in charge of internship for foreign students.