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WES Advisor Blog

Trusted Advice for Academic and Professional Success

Quick Guide: Tips for Finding an Internship 

Friday | April 28, 2023 | by WES Advisor

A young person stands in an office holding a tablet.

Internships are one of the best ways international students can acquire work experience. If you are currently living in the United States or Canada and have completed at least one year of your university education, now may be the right time to begin developing your professional skill set and drafting your résumé. However, you might be wondering where to start. Keep reading our quick guide to learn more about finding an internship.  

What is an internship? 

An internship is a professional learning experience that allows students to work in their chosen field. Internships offer practical work experience to help students explore a particular career and develop applicable skills.  

The details of each internship will vary depending on the field of work and the organization. The role may be a full-time, 35-hour-a-week position, or require fewer, part-time hours. Internships can also be paid or unpaid.  

What are the benefits of an internship? 

Internships offer several benefits. Interns have a chance to acquire real-world experience and hands-on skills over several weeks, typically during the summer or a semester. An internship can also help you meet potential mentors. You’ll be able to make connections and begin to develop a professional network. 

Internship experience will make you a more competitive candidate when you’re ready to start your career. An internship can lead directly to permanent work or even permanent residency. 

Regardless, every internship will provide perspective about possible careers and help you determine if a role or organization is the right fit for you. 

When should you look for an internship? 

It’s a good idea to start researching and applying to internship programs at least six months in advance. Many students participate in internships during their school breaks. For example, if your goal is to find a summer internship, begin applying no later than January.  

Each organization will have its own set of program details and requirements. As you conduct research, take note of application deadlines. 

Where should you look for an internship? 

From online to in person, there are many ways you can find an internship that is right for you. Begin your research on the internet and narrow your focus. Here are some resources to kick off your search for an internship: 

  • Job websites: Check out reputable sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, Chegg Internships, and Idealist
  • Career centers: Many universities have a career services office. These offices help students with internship placement, networking, résumé writing, and interviewing skills.
  • Company websites: If you’re interested in working for a specific employer, go directly to the company’s website to see if it has an internship program. 
  • Networking: Talk to your teachers and seek out opportunities to connect with professionals in your chosen career. Ask classmates and relatives if they know of industry contacts they can share. Search for networking events—they often take place in the fall semester of the school year.  

How do you apply for an internship? 

At a minimum, most companies in the U.S. and Canada will require a résumé and cover letter as part of an application for employment. Some may need a portfolio of work samples or references and letters of recommendation. Pay attention to specific application directions, as each organization may have different requirements. 

Note: While a résumé and curriculum vitae (CV) are technically different, you will sometimes hear the terms used interchangeably in the U.S. and Canada. 

Your résumé is key to securing an internship. Make sure it’s thorough and professional without being too long. Students are advised to keep it to one page and include only relevant experience and coursework. You may find that in the U.S. and Canada résumés are formatted differently. Follow the tips in this blog post to help your résumé stand out 

Also, tailor your cover letters to each internship opportunity. Taking this step will demonstrate your attention to detail and your understanding of the intern role and the company.  

Summary 

We hope our tips for finding an internship are helpful! In addition to everything we have shared, remember to be patient with yourself. Many internship programs are competitive, and you may not be accepted to the first one you apply to. However, keep in mind the key steps to a successful internship search: Begin your research early, network as much as possible, and customize each of your applications. Good luck, and we hope you find an ideal internship that will help you learn and grow!

WES Advisor is an initiative of World Education Services, a non-profit organization with over 45 years of experience in international education. We provide advice and resources for international students and skilled immigrants to help them make informed decisions about education, employment, immigration, and integration opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.