How To Land An Internship As An International Student?
Updated: Jan 13
[This is Isabella, I met Carolina Guenther on LinkedIn after I read her article, I posted and asked if I could publish on Intern Pursuit's blog page. Her insight is applicable for everyone during pandemic and what was our "normal" life. She is from Brazil and delightful to chat with. For employers that have reservations about working with interns, I hope you find the article an interesting 3 minute read.]
There is no doubt us international students have a hard time finding internships and job opportunities. I can't even count how many times I was going through a job posting for a position I was really interested and I had all the required skills, only to notice there was a note - on a very small font at the bottom of the page - that said "U.S citizens and permanent residents applicants only". And also the multiple times I was rejected seconds after submitting an application and marking that I would need work sponsorship in the future. *sigh*
All of this can be really discouraging. I know, I've been there. But, I believe there are a couple of things you can work on that can help you stand out and even get an interview in ways besides applying through the company's website.
First things first... Don't be discouraged by receiving "NOs". As cheesy as it sounds, "no pain, no gain". It is all part of a process and it does take some time, but you will find yourself with so much more experience that it will definitely be worth it.
So what can you actually do to stand out?
Here are 10 tips that I feel helped me to stand out as an international student in tech:
#1 Check out your city/region's tech organizations:
There are numerous organizations in your region that host multiple career development workshops and career fairs for local companies. Look them up and keep an eye on their events!
#2 Check out your university's career center:
Subscribe to their newsletter. They often share information about career fairs, virtual events, and workshops offered by the Career Center. Everything is a valuable experience!
#3 Don't neglect emails from your college department:
Those department emails you receive every week or every month, don't neglect them! They often contain information about unique career events/opportunities looking for students within your major!
#4 Build a relationship with your advisor/professors:
Building a relationship with them is extremely important as they can provide you with recommendation letters and even career/research opportunities!
#5 Look for nationwide/worldwide educational and professional conferences and talk with your school about funding:
If you have any conferences you wanted to participate in or it can enhance your student experience, talk with your advisor or department whether your school can fund your trip! This is why tip #4 is super important!
#6 Check out your university's job board:
There you will find opportunities from employers that are partners with your institution and they are looking for students and grads specifically from your university!
#7 Be involved on campus:
Join clubs and organizations that interested you. This can help you grow both personally and professionally. Some examples are: become an orientation leader, be part of a global/cultural organization, join a sorority/fraternity, become a student ambassador.
#8 Increase your LinkedIn presence and stay up-to-date on tech news:
It's a good way to share accomplishments and even school projects and events you participated. Employers look for candidates that are involved in the community and also how well you present yourself. LinkedIn is also a good platform to stay up-to-date on tech news from companies you follow!
#9 Networking is KEY:
Did you go to a career event and shared ideas with someone? Make sure to connect with them and keep in touch! Even if they are not the ones that will offer you a job, they are links to other opportunities and support.
#10 Start early!!!
You should start building your brand and developing your career as early as you can! Don't leave until the last minute to get tons of relevant experience. Are you a freshman? Go to career events! You most likely won't be hired, however you can make lots of connections and reach out to them at a later time. Every event and every connection counts! There is no magic formula. But those tips will help you build your brand and become more well-rounded, which will increase your chances on landing an internship. Good luck!