Congratulations, you got the internship! Your hard work has paid off, and it’s time to prepare for the exciting adventure ahead - joining your host employer in the United States. We know you want to take advantage of this professional experience abroad and make a great impression on your host employer, so here are our top 5 tips to make sure you leave a positive and lasting impression as an international intern.
1. Be curious
Since you are embarking on an internship in a new country and new culture, you’re probably already naturally curious about what it’s like to live in the U.S. and ready to try something different and new. It’s so important to be open-minded as an intern and express a willingness to try new things. Host employers want to welcome someone who is eager to learn and ready to hit the ground running. Show genuine interest in their work, ask questions, and volunteer for projects, even if they seem unfamiliar or unappealing at first. You might surprise yourself!
2. Be resourceful
During your internship, show your employer that you can use the tools that surround you to succeed. If you can find out the answer to a question yourself, do it! You want your host employer to see that you are savvy, creative and can take initiative to get things done. That being said…
3. Ask for help when you need it
Your supervisor is there to support you and to teach you new skills. Don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance if you need it. It’s perfectly OK to ask for clarification or support. It’s normal to make mistakes - an internship is an opportunity to learn - just make sure to take responsibility and learn from them. You should also be proactive about solving any small problems before they become larger ones. Ask TO help, too, especially if you’re finished with something or have some downtime. Your host employer will be grateful.
4. Be professional
Show your host employer that you want to be there! Always be professional and dress the part. Take a look at how your colleagues communicate with one another in person or via email, and follow suit. For example, do employees frequently call each other, use email, or get up to talk in person? Take cues from those around you. Arrive on time every day, and don’t spend time on your phone or non-work related websites. This shows your host employer that you take your internship with them seriously.
Take the time to get to know your supervisor, superiors, colleagues and other interns. You never know where a conversation could lead or if these people could help you out in your future career, so start connecting early! Ask questions to those more-seasoned professionals around you - such as how they got into the field, or what advice they have for an intern. Don’t forget to ask your host employer for a reference at the end, so they can recommend you for future positions. Finally, keep in touch! Maintain those contacts to keep your network vast.
Above all, don’t just show your host employer that you can meet the expectations for the internship, try to exceed them.
Questions or concerns about interning in the USA? We’re here for you!
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.