Finding an Internship or Training Position
Before you begin your search for an internship, think about what you want to accomplish and how different industries, businesses, or internships may be able to meet your need. Having both an open mind and clear goals is the best way to find the perfect internship.
As your first step, list your goals in order of priority. Keep them in mind as you start to explore opportunities. Not only will this help you to find the right opportunity, having clearly defined objectives will also impress potential host organizations during the application process. Please also remember to check our industry-specific guidelines.
For more tips on finding an internship or training position, continue reading below.
Please note: Participants of the 1-Year Graduate USA Visa Program (Irish Grad Visa) don’t have to find an internship before they travel; you have 90 days to find an internship after you arrive. For more information, please read our timeline for 1-Year Graduate Visa Program participants.
- Are there specific skills you want to work on or professional knowledge you want to acquire?
- Are there specific companies you would like to intern or train with?
- What kind of organization do you want to intern or train with? Nonprofit or for-profit? A big corporation or a small company? Is the type of organization more or less important than the type of training you will receive?
- How long will you be able to stay?
- Are you looking for an internship or training position in a particular city or location?
Narrow your search
Using the questions listed in “Questions to Consider” (above), narrow the scope of your search to companies of a specific size, in a specific industry, or in a specific location. Make sure you choose companies that align with your long-term goals and your professional interests.
List places you would like to live
Internship USA, Professional Career Training USA, and the 1-Year Graduate USA Visa Program are about much more than just gaining professional experience; they are also about having a life-changing cultural experience. As such, you should choose an internship or training position located in a city, state, or geographic region that interests you—whether that is the high-energy atmosphere of New York City or the more laid-back coast of California.
Make a list of companies to contact
After you’ve given it some thought, make a list of companies to contact. At this point you are ready to send out your cover letter and résumé.
Finding an internship or training opportunity is not all that different from finding a job. You should conduct your search accordingly.
If you have already made contacts in your chosen industry or field, you might already know of a company that partners with a U.S. firm to offer internship or training opportunities. Or you may have heard about American businesses offering internships or training positions in your discipline. If so, reach out to these contacts and/or companies.
There are also many other ways to find a U.S.-based internship or training position:
Ask friends, family, and mentors
Many successful careers have been launched with a simple conversation. Someone you know may in turn know about an opening or may have connections with companies in the U.S. who would be happy to help. This kind of personal networking is an important professional skill that’s well worth developing. It can lead to opportunities now and in the future.
Use university and community resources
Your university or community may have a career center that lists internships and/or training programs in the U.S. It may also provide career counseling. Your professors may also have connections with potential host organizations.
Research business or trade organizations
Just about every profession has one or more organizations serving the professional or educational needs of that particular group. These organizations may offer job-finding resources, which might also include international internship opportunities.
Go directly to companies that interest you
A visit to the websites of companies that interest you might uncover opportunities that are not listed elsewhere. If no openings are listed, do not be discouraged. Find out the names of the human resources manager and/or the hiring manager, and contact them to ask about whether opportunities exist. You can also learn more about the organization by following it on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Work with your CIEE international representative
While CIEE international representatives cannot actually arrange an internship for you, they can offer guidance and advice. It is also a good idea to ask your CIEE international representative to review any opportunity you find, as some positions might not be eligible for our programs. Feel free to contact your CIEE international representative with any questions.
Make use of online job sites, but look specifically for internship opportunities. Here are a few good places to start:
Finding Your Internship
You have decided to do an internship in the U.S. Where do you start? Learn to define your goals and refine your internship search.
Applying for an Internship
Tailor your resume and cover letter to the style U.S. companies are used to seeing. Learn application and follow-up etiquette.
Ace Your Interview
Thoroughly prepare for your interview and practice commonly asked interview questions. Also discover how to follow up and how to negotiate a stipend.