By TRA HO
June 6, 2013
If you are looking for something fun, productive and possibly lucrative to do over the summer, aninternship is a very good option.
As an international student, you might have to face a few hassles while looking for an internship, including preparing paperwork for the company. However, the benefits definitely outweigh the minor troubles.
An internship is a wonderful opportunity to gain experience in your field of interest, save money and network. Below is some advice about what international students should do before, during and after an internship.
1. Contact your international student services office: There are certain rules and limitations for international students regarding off-campus internships, and your international student service officers are the best people to give you information about these matters.
It might be tempting to just talk to a friend who did something similar last summer, but since the regulations may change from year to year, it is in your best interests to contact the people at your college who are professionals before you start searching for internships.
Not only can they give you a good idea about what opportunities to look for that are appropriate for international students and permitted by law, but they can also tell you what kind of paperwork you will need to fill out – helping you plan better.
2. Know exactly what interests you: The time you spend on your internship will likely be counted toward your Optional Practical Training time, which is limited. International students can typically work at jobs related to their educational field legally for one year. Your school’s international student office will definitely give you current information about this.
Since you’re using limited and valuable OPT time, it is in your best interest to find an internship that interests you and is something that you might continue doing after graduating. Spending your summer interning as, say, a party planner for a local resort might sound like loads of fun, but might not be appropriate if you are a physics major with no intention of doing anything even remotely related to event planning or hotel businesses.
This is also why talking to the international student services office before conducting an internship search is very important, as the staff can help you figure out which internships would be most appropriate. I was a math student with a strong background in economics and business, and I found an internship in actuarial consulting, which ended up being my career.
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