Coming to the USA for an internship is an exciting opportunity filled with new challenges and rewarding experiences. You can pursue your professional career with a U.S. host employer, and also explore America and its culture. In our 2014 final evaluations, we asked participants what advice they would give to future interns and trainees and to share a memorable experience from their time in the States. We hope the following information from our past participants will help you prepare for your trip to the U.S. and for the experience of a lifetime!
What advice would you give to future interns and trainees?
- Start your application for your J-1 Visa the earliest you can.
- Be aware that the J-1 process take some time and is complex, so really listen well to all the instructions given by the embassy and by InterExchange.
- Do some research before you come here on the company, and on the city that you're staying in. It will make your stay easier.
- Do not hesitate to ask a question InterExchange if there is a problem.
- Be prepared on knowing what to expect when you're out here, make contacts while you're out here and just learn all that you can so you can take the knowledge back home and allow it to help you with your future studies.
- Always do your best in all situations, and show as much personal interest as possible in your co-workers and the people you meet. That will benefit both you and everybody around you and you will make many friends and have a satisfying program.
- Be open minded to new experiences in the city. Even if you don't know anybody in the country, go look for new people to meet throughout the city and take initiative on asking people out for drinks or whatever you want to do. The city has a lot to offer, you just have to be open to it. As from a professional standpoint, my experience is that people are very open to input, also (and maybe even especially) from young inexperienced colleagues. Don't be afraid to speak up and give your input when you think you can contribute.
- Work hard, make an impression and leave your mark in the company. At the same time, enjoy your time here and travel! United States is big so pick the places you really want to visit and make the most of weekends and national/state holidays.
- To keep an eye on local events and to attend them if they can.
- Make sure you take advantage of the extra month after the end of the visa to see some more of the country where you were interning.
- Don't stay only with people from your country, try to meet as many Americans as possible to truly discover American culture and improve your English.
- Make the most of the cultural/historic aspects to the city you live in. Pretend you are a tourist on the weekends and you'll make the most of it.
- Always be sure your job/tasks are laid out for you in advance. Be willing to do new things and have an adventure. Don't go shopping when homesick. Find a favorite spot like a park or cafe and return there often to make it your own.
- Be prepared for the culture shock and be positive to adapt to the new conditions.
- All experiences are good to take, even bad days are useful!
- Don't be afraid and go out as much as possible. Being curious is the key point to meet people here.
- I would give them the following advice: be open for everything, be open for a new culture and try to do as many things as you can. The U.S. offers so many things that you can do. I had not many expectations how it will be. I wanted to be surprised and this was good. So take the plunge and go abroad and let yourself be surprised by the U.S.
- No fear, follow your dreams.
Participants share memorable experiences they had while in the U.S.:
"I have made incredible friends who I know will be part of my life even after I leave. I have shared with them many memorable moments and they have made me feel at home during my stay. I would not be able to pick a single memory because every day has been special."
"Watching the Halloween parade was amazing, we normally don't celebrate Halloween in Sweden so this was a total new experience for me."
"Went for a hike around 4:00 a.m. to see the sunrise. I came back around 2:00 p.m. and went to the Red Sox game where David Ortiz hit a grand slam. One of the most memorable sport moments of Boston sports history and I was there even though it was my first time. Really cool. Pretty amazing day."
"I enjoyed the InterExchange day trip which was arranged at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. It was a great way to experience a site that I might not have done on my own. It was also a great opportunity to meet other students. InterExchange should definitely arrange more of these events as they are great!"
"I've done a lot of things here, and this may sound weird, but one of the most memorable experiences was walking every morning to the metro station. It is a 10-15 minute walk from the house to the station, downhill, to the Forest Hill Station. Every house and every garden is beautiful. You can hear and see all kinds of birds while you're walking. Some trees were blooming and had amazing flowers. Everything is clean and neat. Honestly, I enjoyed that walk every day!"
"I went to visit Washington DC. It was wonderful to see places and monuments I had seen so many times in movies. It was incredible to discover the roots of American democracy. And it was during Black Friday and I went to a mall, which was also a memorable experience!"
"I was on top of the Willis Tower in Chicago. The view was amazing and breathtakingly beautiful: the huge city and the skyline. I had the feeling to be free and that I will be able to master everything. I was on top of the city and everything looked so small and irrelevant. It was the best feeling I ever had."
"I went to see some Americans friends in Ohio for two days. We went to watch a hockey game. It was great. After the hockey game, we bought 1 ball to play with the team. The objective was to throw in the middle of hockey rink. The best one wins a shirt from the team. Almost all spectators played at this game. I threw my ball in the middle. And my ball had arrived exactly in the middle. And I won a shirt from the team. It was amazing!"
"I lost my phone in the subway. Two hours later, a guy was calling me to give me my phone back. We discussed and became friends after that."
"I did a 5K Color Run at night with a colleague near Andover. It was fun with music, dance and color powder everywhere. Such a great memory."
"I went to Coney Island one weekend. I met a group of friends at an outdoor Mermaid Parade that ended up being some of the closest friends I had during my visit."
"Big Sur National Park: we went there to have a camping weekend on the weekend of the 4th of July. Hiked through the mountains and had a great time. It was awesome."
"My wife and I shared a table for breakfast in a Bed and Breakfast in Cambridge, MA, with an old couple and started to chat about various things including any good places to ski in the East Coast. They immediately invited us to their home in Vermont, which was close to a ski resort. We ended up accepting the offer and spent the Thanksgiving holiday with their family while skiing near their home."
"I took a trip to Washington DC with my host family. We spent the weekend traveling the city, visiting museums, sharing in the American history. As an avid runner, I ran with my host family in DC - we had planned a jog around all of the monuments. I will never forget that run."
"My trip to Yosemite National Park was probably the most memorable experience of my life. Me and four of my American friends camped up there for a weekend. To describe Yosemite in words would simply be impossible. It is without a doubt the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. We completed trails where there was a breathtaking view around every corner. We even went off trail and swam under the waterfalls. It is one place I would tell anyone I meet that they simply must visit."
You can read more advice and memorable experiences from our 2013 program participants here.
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.