7 Steps to Landing a U.S. Internship


5 minute read

So you’ve decided that you want to intern in the United States, but you’ve probably also realized that searching for internships in the U.S. while overseas can be a bit overwhelming. Don’t worry! It is certainly possible to land the internship of your dreams, and there are many benefits to finding your own internship in the U.S.! Here’s a few tips to help you get started!

InterExchange Interns Marlene W. from Sweden and Alexander S. from the U.K. used their resources to land an internship at the Atlantic Council!
InterExchange Interns Marlene W. from Sweden and Alexander S. from the U.K. used their resources to land an internship at the Atlantic Council!
Image courtesy of Marlene

Step 1: Determine the Type of Internship that is Best for You

Some things to consider during your internship search are:

  • The field of the internship (it must match your academic field!)
  • The kind of internship that you’d like to pursue
  • The skills sets you want to obtain
  • The length of the intern program
  • The city you want to work in, and
  • How this experience will set you apart from your peers in the future

Finding the right internship will have a substantial impact on your career, and showing that you have taken the time to think about what you want to gain from this opportunity will be more appealing to employers.

Step 2: Search for Potential Employers

Now that you have decided what kind of internship you would like to have, it’s time to think about which U.S. host employers you would like to intern for and do some research on them. There are many ways you can search for employers:

  • Network
    • Create a personal connection with a potential employer by asking your friends, family members, classmates or even professors to see if they know anyone at the company where you’d like to intern.

Read more about how InterExchange’s Intern Annalisa C. used her student job experience to network within the company and land a business internship in United States!

  • Websites

    • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a great place to learn more about a particular company and to research employees of that company. Don’t be afraid to connect with a potential host employer online to find internships - employers love interns who take initiative!
    • Glassdoor: Glassdoor can also be used to look at company reviews of previous/current employees who have worked there. You can also search for internships while doing so.
  • The following websites below allow you to post your resume and search for internship listings by industry or city.

  • University Database

    • Don’t forget to use your University Database! Chances are that your university has created close partnerships with some companies where previous students may have interned.
  • Social Media

  • Create Your Own Internship

    • If you love a host company but can’t seem to find internship listing, you can always create your own internship! Don’t be afraid to reach out to host employers, pitch them a position you have in mind, and share how you can contribute to their company.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that host employers must also meet the J-1 Visa host employer requirements to be eligible to host you.

Step 3: Prepare Your Documents:

There are two documents that are important when applying for an internship:

  • CV/Resume
  • Cover Letter
    • Most companies will ask you to write a cover letter explaining why you would like to intern with them.
    • Don’t forget to personalize each of your cover letters! Employers like to see that you have taken the time to research their company and the role. They want to know why you want to intern for them specifically.
    • Read our tips on writing the perfect cover letter.

Pro tip: You should always submit a cover letter, even if the internship posting says it is optional!

Step 4: Apply!

So you’ve done your research and are ready to apply. One of the best ways to keep track of the companies you have applied with is to create a spreadsheet.

You will want to keep track of the following:

  • Company name
  • Website URL
  • Hiring Manager
  • Hiring Manager email (if available)
  • Location of the company
  • Internship description
  • Pay
  • Dates of the internship
  • Any other relevant benefits or perks

If you’re offered multiple internships, this spreadsheet will make it easy for you to compare your options and make a decision regarding which opportunity will be best for you.

Step 5: Follow Up

Don’t be nervous if you haven’t heard back from an employer! Reviewing applications takes time, and they make take a while to get back to you. It is best to follow up with a host employer one week to two weeks after submitting your application.

Read more about how to follow up on an internship application to ensure that yours is seen.

Step 6: Interview

Great news! A company is interested in you and wants to set up an interview for the position. This is their opportunity to learn more about you, why you want to intern with them, and most importantly, they also want to know what you know about the company and their mission.

Host employers may set up multiple rounds of interviews, and you may interview with different employees through the company. Interviews can be done via phone or Skype. If you’re in town visiting, try and schedule an in-person interview!

Being well-prepared for your interview is key! Check out our interview tips for more information.

IMPORTANT: Remember to ask questions and try to get a better understanding of what your training would entail and if this aligns with your goals. Here are some common interview questions to review.

Step 7: Review and Accept Your Offer

You did it, congratulations! You’re one step closer to having an experience of a lifetime, but first you’ll want to think about your offer. Ensure that the training the company will provide is what you are looking for and will help to add the kind of experience you want to your CV/Resume.

Once you accept your offer, you can start your J-1 Intern Visa sponsorship application with InterExchange Career Training USA!

You can find more information for finding internships on our website, or you can join our email list for more tips and tricks for finding your dream internship in the USA. Good luck!

Fatima Rodriguez By

Fatima Rodriguez is the Communications and Recruitment Coordinator for Career Training USA. She graduated with a B.S. in Hotel Administration from Cornell University and also participated in a study abroad program called Semester at Sea, where she lived on a ship for 4 months, took classes, and traveled around the world. Ever since then, she has continued to follow her passion by traveling and helping individuals to experience the world abroad through her position within the Career Training program.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation