Tips and Tricks: How to Have a Successful Program

International interns, trainees, and professionals are eager to learn or share skills but may need a bit of extra help from host organizations at the beginning. To help your participant adjust, we recommend taking the following steps:

Be patient
American workplaces may be very different environments for international participants. Allow ample time for your participant to settle in; also provide enough instruction to ensure any necessary training or orientation is understood and tasks are completed successfully.

Make sure you understand one another
English is not the native language of many international interns, trainees, and professionals. Please take this into account when interacting in the workplace. Asking your participants – particularly interns or trainees – to repeat instructions back to you is an easy and effective way to ensure they understand what you’ve asked them to do. It’s important, too, that international participants feel comfortable asking questions, so make it clear that you are there to help.

Openly discuss office policies and practices
Business practices in the U.S. may not be the same as those experienced by international participants in their home countries. Host organizations should be very specific about office customs like meal breaks, dress code, and time off. Explain the reasons behind rules; this makes them easier to follow.

Be open and friendly
Everyone in the workplace – interns, trainees, professionals, colleagues, and managers – should take the time to engage with and learn from one another. That’s what exchange is all about!

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Share insights and talk openly about adjustment issues. Some cultural differences may impact the workplace. For example, expressions such as gestures, tone, and demeanor carry different meanings in different parts of the world. This is a great opportunity to learn about those differences.
  • Organize activities such as cookouts or outings to build team spirit and help your international participant get to know other people in your organization.
  • Consider a mentoring approach that pairs staff members with international participants. This provides a wonderful opportunity for support and guidance.

If you are hosting an intern or trainee, supervisors should check in regularly to see how things are going. At the same time, interns and trainees should be encouraged to ask questions and discuss any issues that arise. Most misunderstandings can be prevented by communicating clearly and often.

If you need advice on how to communicate better in the workplace, contact us. We are always glad to help.