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I am an international student in my second semester of my graduate study. I want to do a summer internship, but a friend told me that I can’t because of my status as an international student. He also told me there are many other things that I need to do before I can apply for an internship. Can you tell me what I need to do so that I can apply for a internship?
Hi Max –
Getting an internship as an international student in the U.S. certainly can be challenging. Precisely how challenging depends largely on your visa status, your field of study and your degree requirements and options.
You visa status will determine what you can and cannot do legally. Your field of study will determine how challenging it will be for you to find an internship in your desired professional field. You degree requirements and options will determine whether or not an internship for academic credit is an option or, perhaps, a requirement for your degree.
You must look at these three elements together. So, here is my advice:
First, consult the International Student Office at your University
Oklahoma City University’s International Student Office has a web page dedicated to Employment Information. It is your responsibility to understand what you can and cannot do under the terms of your visa. Every individual situation is unique, so you cannot expect potential employers to have those answers for you. When an employer asks “As an international student, are you eligible to to an internships?”, you must be ready to answer the question. Your International Student Office can help.
Next, work with your campus Career Services Office
Did you know that OCU Career Services has resources specifically for international students? Based upon your field of study and your stated career objectives, your career services office can help you understand your internship options, recognize the challenges you will face pursuing an internship in your chose field, and take advantage of the internship search resources available. Seek the advice of your campus career center.
Finally, talk to your academic advisor about internship options in your degree plan
Does your degree plan require an internship? If not, does it offer the option to do an internship for academic credit? Your academic advisor will be able to help you identify if and how an internship might fit into your curriculum and/or meet some of your degree requirements.
Bailey from the College of the Canyons asked:
I’m a freshman, and I work full time in the Aerospace Industry. My work experience has really changed my perspective on my degree and my career exploration.
I’ve lost interest in powering through my General Education requirements, as I have come to believe that no entry-level job can be satisfying . . . so why not just take classes I enjoy?
I’ve even gone to the extremes of escapism: Maybe a degree isn’t for me. Maybe I need to leave the country. Maybe [fill in blank with absurd alternative to going to college].
I know this is flawed reasoning, but how can I deal with serious estrangement from something I used to be very compassionate about: heavy college involvement in the effort to transfer, excessive career searching?
Hi Bailey –
Wow – talk about having your perspective turned upside down! I can understand why you are frustrated and confused. That said . . .
In your haste to figure out what do do next, don’t do anything drastic or rash, like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
You should finish your college degree. There are many studies that show that people with college degrees have more opportunities than those without.
For now, focus on two things:
Power through your General Education Requirements
Regardless of the degree you end up pursuing, you will have general education requirements. Get as many of these out of the way as you can. Consult with an academic advisor at your school to determine which classes will help you fulfill these requirements. Working on your GEs will also buy you some time as you try to identify a major field of study to pursue.
I have to challenge you a little bit – particularly the following comment:
“I’ve lost interest in powering through my General Education requirements,
as I have come to believe that no entry-level job can be satisfying”
What does completing your GE requirements have to do with your potential satisfaction with a yet to be determined entry-level job? I don’t see the connection.
How did you come to the conclusion that all entry-level employment will be unsatisfying? That is a pretty broad and sweeping statement which – I bet – is just a result of your current frustration. Don’t fall prey to your frustration. Work to overcome it. How?
Get to know yourself really well!
And, use that knowledge to drive your academic and career exploration.
What do you enjoy doing? What are your skills, gifts and talents? In what kinds of work environments do you best thrive? What types of work environments are “toxic” for you? How do you define “job satisfaction”? What motivates you? What are your hobbies and interests, and what business/professions surround those hobbies and interests?
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
From my perspective, everyone has the right to pursue a career path they will enjoy and find fulfilling. Sounds pretty great, don’t you think? Well, there is a catch: In order to pursue a career path you will enjoy and find fulfilling, you must be able to define that which you enjoy and that which brings you fulfillment.
Think about it: How will you know you got it, if you can’t define it in the first place?
By the way, that is much easier said than done! I strongly recommend you seek the assistance of a career adviser/counselor at your school. They can be really helpful in sorting out your options and answering those questions.
. . . so why not just take classes I enjoy?
If you can afford to do that (financially, that is), go ahead and just take classes you enjoy. Most people do not have that luxury.
Remember, every decision you make has consequences; some good, some neutral, some bad – but every decision has consequences.
Eventually, you will have to pay your own bills (you may already), and pay back your student loans (if you have any). That means, you are going to have to work. And, life will be a whole lot better when your work doesn’t stink, don’t you agree?
Finding a job and career path you will enjoy and find fulfilling takes time, energy and attention. Invest that time, energy and attention, and you will discover a variety of career options to consider.
One last thing!
Try to enjoy the journey of your career exploration – over the course of your life (not just your college career) that journey will take many turns you will not expect and cannot anticipate. This is normal. Nearly everyone experiences this.
Some people are born knowing precisely what they are going to do for a living – the“I always knew I was going to be a [fill in the blank]” people. Most of us were not! I think this is good. Too much certainty breeds complacency.
Many of the jobs/careers you may encounter in your future don’t even exist yet,
so how can you want them right now?
Take a deep breath! Relax! And, start this next phase of your career exploration with an open mind and a blank slate.
Let your curiosity help you explore and let your common sense and intellect help you sort through your options. Do this, and you will find your way!
Best of luck,
Marcia from DeVry University asked:
What can I do with a Master’s in Educational Technology if I am not working in a school district? How can I get an internship or experience in Instructional Design?
Want a quick overview of the field of Educational Technology?
Check out the following two videos. You will see potential pathways both within and outside of school districts.
How do you find a job or internship in instructional design?
Look where the opportunities are likely to be posted. In this case, that means educational-focused online job boards and trade publications and through related professional associations. I have listed a lot of options below for you to review to get some ideas.
Where do you start?
If you are looking for an internship while you are in school, the geographic scope of your search is probably going to be limited to your local area. Translation: You probably need to intern near where you are in school, right!
In this case, look to the colleges and universities. and (if there are any in your area) educational publishers, online training and software companies and game developers. All of these types of organizations probably have people working in some form of educations technology, instructional design or user interface design – the need for instructional designers goes beyond the your local school district. Talk to folks in these worlds to get first hand information on their fields (this is called an informational interview) and inquire about internship opportunities.
Chances are, most of these internships will not be posted on the big national job boards. Some of them might not be posted at all. Some won’t even exist until you ask about them.
Where do you begin?
- With research to learn as much about the field as you can
- With that first phone call, email or visit to someone in your area working in educational technology
- With a plan of action for pursuing job opportunities
I hope this information helps you get started.
Is it possible to get a good summer internship while completing a part-time MBA program?
Hi Mark –
To be completely honest – it’s going to be challenging. Not impossible, but challenging.
People enrolled in part-time MBA programs are typically (or thought to be typically) employed full-time. Why else would they be in school only part-time, right?
So, the general perception what a “part-time MBA student is” will be working against you. Perception can be more powerful than reality, so you have to manage that message carefully.
So, where do you start?
How do you define a “good summer internship”?
This is a really important questions because your definition of “good” may be very different from someone else’s definition of good.
What industries are you hoping to explore through this internship? What kind of experience are you seeking? How competitive are the fields you wish to enter? How much do you hope/expect to earn during the internship? How far are you willing to travel to do the internship?
Put your MBA training to work: Do a quick SWOT analysis on yourself and the job market in the fields you wish to enter. Layer these analyses on top of each other to see where your strengths and opportunities align with those of the fields you are targeting and to identify the obstacles and threats you may be facing in pursuit of the internship.
Are you using the resources available to you?
Are you using Graduate Career Connections at CU Denver? Are you taking advantage of the resources and services provided by the CU Denver Career Center? They cannot place you into an internship, but they can be a good source of opportunities, connections advice and assistance. Don’t neglect the help available on your campus.
How hard are you willing to work to find an internship?
As I mentioned at the start, you face an uphill climb. You have to make you understandable, relevant and desirable to potential employers. You have to give them reasons to consider you. They don’t inherently “get” you, what you want, or what you offer. If you can’t tell them why they should hire you, how are they supposed to figure it out? Managing your message is really important.
You may be well down this path already – I hope so! Regardless, finding a “good” internship is a process not a transaction. Approach this process the same way you approach a sales and marketing case study in grad school. You have a product to sell (You!). Develop a thorough understanding of your product and the ability to position it to potential buyers (employers). At the same time, do your market research to identify the best opportunities. Then, pursue those opportunities and try to make the sale!
Jeff from Capital University asked:
I’m 32 years old and have been working in commercial real estate my entire professional life. About 6 months ago I decided to back to school to complete a BA in Business Administration, and I plan to attend law school soon after (about a year from now). I am having trouble finding a company/position that is right for me. I want an internship/co-op that allows me to learn the business side of the company then allows me to transfer into a legal department. Is anyone interested in my skill set?
Perhaps you saw my recent response to another question about internships – How can I find an internship when I’m not enrolled in school?
I am going to be perfectly honest with you – finding an internship is going to be a serious challenge given your circumstances. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try- you just need to understand the obstacles you have to overcome.
You state that you are “having trouble finding a company /position that is right for you.” How clearly can you articulate what you mean by that statement?
Knowing what you are looking for is very important. Knowing what you offer to those employers you are targeting is equally important. You need both to demonstrate a good fit. Every search for a job, internship or co-op must seek a win-win result. That is, the company and position have to fit you (you win!), and you have to be a good fit for the company and the position (they win!). You need to build your search on that Win-Win Principle and use it to decide which positions you will apply to and which you won’t.
Also, it is not very common for a business to hire someone into one part of the business and then transfer them into a legal department after working in these other areas of a company. It is more typical for a company to hire a lawyer (or put one on retainer) when they need a lawyer. So – I’m not certain that your strategy is a great one (of course, I don’t have all the details of your situation, either!)
Be sure that Law School is the right decision for you. Law School is a huge investment of time and money – guaranteed. However, there are no guarantees that you will make a lot of money as an attorney. If you are going to spend that amount of time and spend (or borrow) that amount of money, be sure you know what you are getting yourself into. And, if you want to go to Law School, why wait the year to do so? If you need that year to prep for the LSAT, get applications in, etc., then I recommend looking for temporary/contract work in a law firm or in a corporate legal department and being up front about your plan to enter law school within the year.
You mention the possibility of a co-op. These days, co-op positions are most typically offered by technology and engineering companies seeking technology and engineering students, and they tend to be coordinated through the college (because they are part of the curriculum). Does your college have a robust co-op program for business students? If not, the co-op path may not be a viable option.
Lastly, you asked – “Is anyone interested in your skill set?”
The easy answer is probably. The real path the right answer begins with another question: “To what extent are employers fully aware of the skills, experience, education and qualities you offer?” Answer this question, and you will be able to answer your original question.
Looking for a job or internship is just like being a sales. Effective sales people understand their product/service really well, and they study the market looking for likely buyers. They don’t try to sell to everyone because, in most cases, everyone is not a likely buyer. Once they identify likely buyers, they invest time presenting their product/service to these likely buyers in terms aligned with the buyers’ wants, needs and motivations. Effective sales people follow this strategy to identify potential customers, win new business, and keep existing clients. Ineffective sales people try to sell to everyone and hope they will make a sale (which is frustrating for them and the people they are selling to and not very efficient).
Effective job seekers do the same things effective sales people do, while ineffective job seekers simply send out lot of applications and hope someone will call them in for an interview (which is also very frustrating for them and for employers getting the applications and not very efficient.).
If you approach your career transition the same way you approach a business opportunity and apply the same principles, you should find success in you search.
I am entering my senior year. I have a pretty low GPA. I am international and am looking for an internship in the business field. Is it too late?
Hi Nick – it is never too late to start; just realize that there are some hurdles you will need to overcome.
First, as an international student you need to be fully aware of what your student visa does and doesn’t allow
Check with the International Student office at your university. The International Student Advisers should be able to tell you your options. This can be complicated for international students. Some students can only work or do internships on campus. Others can only do unpaid internships (and unpaid internships usually require that you receive academic credit). Still others can only work by tapping into their Optional Practical Training (OPT). Like I said, it’s complicated and what might be a option for one student may not be an option for another. Every student’s situation is unique.
Second, “Is it too late?” has a lot of possible answers
Is it too late to do an internship for academic credit for this fall semester? I don’t know, but I would guess the answer to that question (on Sept 23rd) is Yes – it is too late.
Is it too late to do a paid internship for the fall without earning credit? No, you just have to find one for which are eligible.
Is it too late, in general, to do an internship? No! Your senior year is a ideal time to do an internship. And, if you only have one opportunity, your senior year is probably the best time to do an internship. You want an employer to see what you can do at a time when they might actually be able to hire you at the conclusion of the internship. By that standard, Spring 2013 is a great time for a May 2013 student to intern. Perhaps the best time.
Lastly, will your low GPA get in the way of you getting an internship?
Having low GPA will take you out of the running for some internships but not for all internships, so you can’t use that as a reason not to look!
If you are looking for an internship, you had better be ready to have the “Why is your GPA low? Is your GPA reflective of your ability to perform in the workplace?” conversation. It’s bound to come up. You cannot avoid it altogether, so you have to be prepared to have that conversation.
By the way, employers can generally tell when you are not being truthful with them, so don’t try to spin up a story that isn’t true to explain away your GPA. Employers can also tell when you are being truthful and authentic (and they really appreciate it!).
A couple of weeks ago I responded to the question “What is the best way for a first-timer to look for a job?” I think the advice I shared in that post applies equally well in your situation. Whether you are looking for a job or for an internship, an employer will consider you when you give them good reasons to do so. Those reasons can include attitude, motivation, intellect, passion, academic performance, prior experience, specific training, specific interests, etc. . . . the list can go on and on.
If you are not able to tell an employer why they should consider you for an internship, how can you expect them to figure it out? Be prepared to market yourself to prospective employers.
My final advice: Seek the counsel of your campus career center! I bet they will have some good advice and resources for you, as well!
Welcome to TheCampusCareerCoach.com – a service of CSO Research Inc.
This blog provides career advising and coaching resources and information to benefit the students of CSO’s 600+ client colleges and universities across the US and around the world.
Content is provided primarily by me – Matt Berndt, CSO’s Director of Communication & Career Services with additional content provided by Mason Gates, CSO’s Director of Employer Engagement, and other of our colleagues at CSO and friends in career services and recruiting.
I have been described as a “career evangelist“ because of my passion for helping college students proactively explore their career options and pursue careers paths that match their skills, interests, goals and aspirations.
My philosophy of career planning and management is simple:
Life is short. Work somewhere awesome!
Yes, I know that “working somewhere awesome” is not easy to achieve. Why is that? Well . . .
Consider this:According the the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, most of us will have more than 10 jobs over the course of our careers.
And this:Many of the jobs and careers that will drive economic development in the future don’t even exist yet. Remember, social media didn’t exist ten years ago!
Kind of makes the whole “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” question college students ask sound a little bit silly, don’t you think.
See, it’s not about about knowing what you are going to do with the rest of your life RIGHT NOW.
It’s about learning how to navigate your career journey through its unavoidable changes, peaks, and valleys in a way that will allow you to live the life you want to live, meet your obligations, and make decisions according to your personal and professional priorities.
The content of this blog – and my philosophy in general – is centered on helping college students explore their options and navigate their career paths from the minute the step on campus for the first time to long after they graduate and progress through their careers, because no one else will do this for them.
You may not always agree with the advice and commentary I offer.
That’s okay! There is not one specific career planning and management “recipe” that will work for everyone.
My goal with this blog to to get students thinking about how they can best use their skills, gifts, talents, education, resources and relationships to forge a work life that suits them well and meets their wants and needs.
Welcome aboard – put on your seat belt – enjoy the ride!