1. Flexibility: Finding an internship on your own means you can seek out employers that meet your own specific criteria. You will have more flexibility and a lot more choices in things like location, company size, etc. Also, instead of being considered for just one or a few positions, you can apply to as many as you want!
2. Networking: If you conduct an internship search yourself, you have an opportunity to build relationships with others in your professional field—including your potential employer. Even when you are not offered an internship opportunity, you will have still made important contacts you could connect with in the future. Similarly, your new contacts may be able to refer you to others in their own networks that may be looking to hire interns.
3. Motivation: Employers love self-driven candidates. By contacting employers yourself and expressing interest in an internship, employers will see that you are an independent, motivated self-starter. It will be clear to them that you have done the appropriate research and are the type of candidate who takes initiative. These are all attributes that employers are looking for when hiring an intern/trainee. Further, even if employers aren't currently advertising internship opportunities, you should still reach out and express interest in interning with them. By showing this level of initiative and motivation, you are likely to impress employers, and, in many cases, they will be happy to create an internship for you.
4. No intermediary: When finding an internship on your own, there are no intermediaries or third parties involved in the process. YOU are in direct contact with the employer. All information about the internship such as the compensation, responsibilities, program dates, etc. goes directly to you and won't be misinterpreted along the way. Also, if you contact employers yourself and have the chance to interview with them directly, you will be able to get your questions answered before coming on the program. This way, any misunderstandings about the terms of your internship can be avoided.
5. Cost-Savings: It's cheaper to find an internship on your own! Hiring a placement agency can be expensive. Many third party companies will charge hefty fees to find an internship/training program for you. Why incur an additional cost when you can find your own internship?
6. Expectations: Since you did the initial research, contacted companies directly, interviewed and were hired entirely on your own, you will be able to assure that the internship is going to meet your expectations. Throughout the hiring process, if you encounter any difficulties or have any questions or doubts, you will be able to address all of this before confirming an internship offer, thus assuring the internship you finally take is the internship you actually want. Further, by communicating with employers directly, you will know exactly what they are looking for in an intern/trainee. With a solid understanding of what your employer's expectations are for you as well, you will be better prepared to fulfill and hopefully exceed them.
7. Future Career Preparation: The experience of searching for your own internship will prepare you for your future job searches and give you the skills you need to find a great job after you return to your home country. In the real world, you will need to be able to learn how to pursue career opportunities on your own.
8. Independence: By finding your own internship, you will be instilled with a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement. It feels good to accomplish something on your own and it's an important skill to have in your future career.
9. Language Skills: Applying to internships is a great way to practice your English. As you write and refine your cover letters and resume/CV, you will be gaining experience writing in English. Further, you will enhance your verbal communication when you interview with potential host employers.
10. Familiarity with U.S. Culture: In finding your own internship, you will begin to familiarize yourself with American culture and customs. Though applying to positions in a foreign country may be out of your comfort zone at first, you will begin to learn the cultural norms and standard practices of networking in the global marketplace! This is a fantastic way to get accustomed to a new culture and make you marketable in the future.
You are the perfect person to find a suitable international program for yourself. After all, no one knows what YOU want better than you!
InterExchange Career Training USA is a top J-1 Visa sponsor for university students and young professionals who have already secured internships or training programs with companies in the U.S. If you still need to find an internship or training program in the U.S., check out our resources and start the J-1 Visa sponsorship process early.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.