No matter if you want to work in the US after graduation, return home, or work in a third country, a summer internship is a valuable college experience. CPT internships are simply college internships – the employer only has to sign a document provided by your international student services office. International students on an F1 visa use their CPT authorization to work in a US company in a paid internship. Check in with your international student services office to learn more about CPT. You don’t need sponsorship to get an internship in the U.S.
Websites for internships
Though there are no websites specifically for CPT internships, you can find college internships using these websites:
Keywords to use for internship searches
Keyword searches help you narrow down your search. Avoid terms like CPT internships. Instead, use keyword terms like “summer/winter internship,” “college intern,” or “paid internships.” Use your major, geographic location, or skills to narrow your search.
- “engineering intern”
- “fashion internship”
- “New York fintech startup internship”
- “MBA marketing internship”
- “Minnesota python college internship”
Some websites like indeed.com and LinkedIn you can save your keywords and get matching internships emailed to you. This saves you time and helps you track application deadlines.
Corporate websites usually have college or university sections
Corporate websites usually have webpages for college internships. For example, Google has a detailed website for college students. Tesla (below) has a section for university students to explore, including a link to their Facebook page for students where they show intern stories. Use these sections to research internship opportunities, deadlines, and learn more about the company culture. Also, you can find recruiter contact information on university pages. Connecting with recruiters to ask questions about internships helps you stand out among the competition.
To impress employers you need skills and passion
The most important skills for the internship search are your communication skills. You need to have confidence with your English skills, both spoken and written, to get an internship in a U.S. company. To impress employers you must also show your passion for the company and curiosity about opportunities. Before you apply to internships spend your first month learning everything you can about the internships. Then for each internship that interests you practice answering two questions:
“What interests you about this opportunity?”
“What interests you about our company?”
These are the most popular questions employers ask candidates. Practice the answer so you can interact confidently with employers at career fairs.
Why some companies don’t hire international students for internships
Even though employers don’t have to have to sponsor international students for internships some companies will not hire international students for internships. Many companies use internships as a main source for hiring full time. For example, on Walmart’s university student recruiting website they share that 75% of internships turn into full-time positions.
If a company does not sponsor international students for full-time work, it is not likely that they will hire international students for internships. Many employers like Walmart want to hire interns who are interested in working at the company after graduation. While it may not seem fair, remember it’s not personal. When companies hire an intern, they consider it an investment in the company’s future. They are investing money in the student in hopes the students will perform well during the summer and like the company enough to return to after graduation. Hiring through internships is the preferred method for hiring college students in the U.S. Luckily, Walmart hires international candidates (especially software engineers). But not all companies hire international students. Learn more about how to find companies that sponsor international students.
A checklist for the internship search
Getting an internship requires more than applying for internships online. Use the checklist below to help you find an internship in the U.S.
Want additional help finding internships? Check out interactive online workshops for international students.