How do international students get an internship in the US?
“How can I get a job in the US?” – international students everywhere, according to Quora
I spend a lot of time on Quora answering questions about how international students can get a job in the US. Many of the questions revolve around how to find companies that sponsor international students. What is missing from the questions and answers is the process and time need to get a job in the US. It requires so much more than submitting applications to a website and waiting for a phone call.
To give more context to a job search, I answered this Quora post asking “What should an international student do to get a job in the US?”
Here is the response:
Be better than every other candidate. Seriously. US companies hire international students who are exceptional. That doesn’t mean a fancy degree. That means someone you need to be someone who communicates well, knows the company they are applying to, fits into the organization, and solves problems that face that business.
Here are the things to do:
- Hang out with Americans to learn their communication style and cultural quirks
- Get comfortable with small talk; everyone hates it but you can’t avoid it in the job search (there’s a free course for that)
- Get experience doing things while you are in school. Lead something. Build something. Write something. Employers value that extra effort.
- Show passion. What motivates you?
- Improve your email communication skills
- Learn how to talk to recruiters
- Look good online – LinkedIn account, personal website showcasing any projects, ideas
- Practice mock interviews (you career services should help you with that)
- Research every single company you want to apply to so you know them inside and out; then answer the question “Why do you want to work for this organization?” If you can’t answer that why should they hire you?
- Learn about the role you’re applying to. What do they do on a daily basis? How do you qualify for that role?
- Network with people inside organizations so they can advocate for you in the process and give you a referral during the application process
- Don’t wait for internships to come to you – go after them. If you don’t see the one you want, pitch your own.
- Ask others for feedback on your resume, cover letters regularly. Don’t rely on the same resume and cover letter for every internship. Recruiters know a half-ass resume and cover letter when they see one
- Get creative – think about new ways to get recruiters attention (here is my favorite recent example)
There is so much more to a job search than submitting an application and waiting. The internship and job search for international students takes effort, time, and thoughtfulness.