Top 5 Reasons to Find Your Own Internship

4 minute read

Whether you’re looking to enhance your skills, live in a big city, or learn what it’s like to intern for a start-up company, no one knows more about what you want out of an internship better than you!

Career Training USA has found that interns who have searched for and found their own internship have a higher satisfaction rate than those who went through a placement company. Finding your own internship also demonstrates the independence, communication skills, and assertiveness that U.S. host employers look for in potential interns.

Ready to take charge of your internship search? Here are five additional benefits to finding your own internship:

1. Fits Your Individual Interests and Goals

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Set yourself up for success by making sure your internship is the right fit for you. Ask yourself:

  • What are your objectives and motivation?
  • What skills do you want to gain or develop?
  • Where do you want your internship to take you?
  • What type of company structure are you looking for?
  • Are you receiving academic credit and does this determine the type of internship you can carry out?

You must be clear about your personal expectations and priorities. Some interns want to make sure that they are on the right track professionally and that they’re able to apply what they’ve learned to real-life scenarios. For those more advanced, developing specific skills in their field or expanding their professional network through new mentorships is key for interning abroad. And other participants find that a setting outside of their comfort zone will allow them to look at an industry that they know well from a different perspective. Whatever your goals are, take stock of your training, skills, and interests before you begin applying.

You can (and should) discuss ideas with friends, family members, students, or colleagues and use their suggestions in the internship search. Ultimately, when you are the one finding and choosing your internship, you will be happiest with the outcome.

2. Avoid Placement Fees

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Placement and other internship-matching agencies can be very expensive and may not always work in your best interest. They can add thousands of dollars to the international internship process, whereas interns who find their own internships will save a lot of money by not paying any placement fees.

Although it may be easier to find an internship through a placement service, your internship will likely be less individualized to your own wants and needs since placement companies typically only work with a limited database of potential employers. This means you could actually end up paying more for a mediocre internship experience than you would if you look for internships on your own.

There’s a wide array of internship options available in the U.S., and you don’t have to be limited to the connections, locations, or industries supported by a placement company. By finding your own internship, you can eliminate the placement fee, explore a wider range of host companies, and find the best internship fit for you!

3. Direct Employer Contact (with as many companies as you want!)

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There is no limit to the number of internships you can apply to or companies you contact and connect with. You’ll also be able to ensure that your CV/resume is reaching only those companies where you want to intern, ensuring the best match for you.

U.S. employers look favorably on interns who pursue internships directly, especially internship-seekers who have done their research and are well-prepared. The experience of searching for internships on your own gives you better knowledge of the industry and helps you to make more direct connections with industry professionals, even if you don’t ultimately get an opportunity to intern with their organization.

Check out Career Training USA alum Corina’s Internship Search Tips for more information about reaching out to potential host employers!

4. Practice Language and Intercultural Communication Skills

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If English is not your first language, you have the opportunity to show off your English language skills and get a head start on learning professional communications in the U.S.

Business is increasingly global. The chances are high that you will work or interact with someone from another culture in your career, and having well-developed intercultural communication skills will make you more valuable to potential employers. By reaching out directly to U.S. host employers, you are able to practice your business English in the form of emailing, interviewing, and preparing your resume and cover letter - all great practice for the future!

Take a look at our communication tips for creating successful resumes and cover letters so that you make a great first impression and familiarize yourself with intercultural communication and U.S. office culture!

5. Networking and Future Career Preparation

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An important networking point to keep in mind is that even if an employer isn’t accepting interns right now, they may be able to connect you with someone else in the industry who is or keep you in mind for future internship or post-graduation work opportunities.

The internship search process itself will provide you with many skills that you’ll draw upon when applying for your first real job. It contributes to building important skills, like independence, communication, and the ability to analyze varying opportunities. It’s important practice for post-graduation life, as it’s very unlikely someone will find your first job on your behalf.

Check out Networking Resource to learn more about how to leverage your network for future career prospects!

For more help finding an internship, check out our Internship Search Resources.

Have a question or need some help? Contact us!

Found your own internship? Congrats! Sign up and start your journey.

Allison By

Allison joined the InterExchange team in 2011 and holds a B.A. in International Affairs and an M.A. in Higher Education. She oversees the daily operations of the Career Training USA program where she has the privilege of working with students and professionals from around the world pursuing U.S. internships and training programs. Allison is originally from Massachusetts and studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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