Woohoo! You've been accepted into InterExchange's Career Training USA Program. Congrats! You are about to embark on a life-changing adventure. And as you begin planning for your internship or training program, you probably have a million questions. You might be wondering: "What should I wear on my first day at the office?" Or perhaps you're simply saying to yourself: "Where's the best place in my new city for sushi or pad thai?"
Of course, InterExchange is always here to answer your questions (although we suggest visiting a website like Yelp get tips and reviews on great restaurants in your area). And when it comes to big-picture advice, there's some knowledge that can only be gained from first-hand experience. So we asked past Career Training USA participants for thoughts, tips, advice and memorable experiences in the hopes that we could better prepare you for your upcoming program in the USA.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare (But Don't Stress!)
- Know what you're getting into before committing to anything. Take the time to get to know yourself while you're out of your comfort zone and explore all opportunities that come your way.
- Be well prepared, read travel guides and talk to people who have been to the country or even the city before. I think it's most important to look forward to an exciting experience and a chance to be open-minded to everything new.
- Ask the employer what tasks you should expect and how you can prepare for them before coming to the U.S.
- Don't stress: Everything is going to be all right.
- When applying for sponsorship do as much as you can to collect all the materials you need before submission. I managed to obtain the DUNS and Workers Compensation Policy myself. Be resourceful and that will accelerate the process.
- Prepare visas and documents way before you plan to leave for America.
- Don't be scared of the process even if it seems super complicated from outside. InterExchange knows what they are doing and they will assist you throughout the processes to get your paperwork done. There is always going to be someone to help you and answer any of your questions regarding your program and your life in the U.S.
Make the Most of Your Internship/Training
- Give 150% for your employer. If they see that you work hard you'll be very much appreciated. Embrace the new culture. Try to make friends with local people.
- Do your best at your internship. Always communicate with others when you're having a hard time, or if you find something is not right. Have a good time and learn a lot at your company. The U.S. is a wonderful place and one year goes by so fast! Also, travel within the U.S. when possible since there is a lot to discover.
- Be responsible at work. Try to make lots of friends and be open-minded. If you are nice usually people will be nice back to you. Don't be shy. This is not a place to be shy! Try to express yourself. Learn how to deal with different cultures and respect all cultures. As soon as you do you'll find you have lots of friends actually. :)
- Enjoy every day of your training and do your best to get as much knowledge and skills as you can.
- Focus on work and be really open in order to meet people.
- Don't be shy and try to enjoy the period that you spend here as much as you can. Remember that a training program in the U.S. could be a good opportunity for your future career.
Meet the Locals (And Practice English, too!)
- Get involved with a club (sports, community service, etc.) to meet other people your age.
- Get to know Americans and don't only hang out with people from your home country.
- If it is possible, make a lot of friends who are from America or any country. Also, if there is time, try to go somewhere else in the U.S. like NYC, Boston and LA. You can get a lot of memories and good experiences.
- Make every effort to get out and meet people and enjoy your host city. Moving to the U.S. can be intimidating and even lonely if you don't have a support network. Adjustment challenges can be avoided if you try to make your city a home away from home.
- Make friends when you are there, visit places and read U.S. newspapers.
- Talk with as many people as possible from day one.
- Enjoy the experience, that's what it's all about! If work is hard there are always good times off the clock! Try to travel around the States - it's cheaper than visiting from your home country.
- Make sure you have a good level of speaking English before you come if you want to have a smooth immersion into the culture.
Have Fun and Be Open-Minded
- Just see what happens and try to learn from every moment you are there, whether it's good or bad.
- Arrive open-minded and treat every experience as a learning process.
- Don't have high expectations before coming to the U.S. Your highest expectations can't all be true and then you'll experience a big shock. Be open to what you will find once in the U.S.
- Be compromising, willing to learn and smile at culture clashes!
- The unconditional acceptance of what life brings you is the key to being a better person.
- Just go for it! It's a once in a lifetime experience. Testing yourself to see how you adapt in a whole different situation is very useful for your future career.
- Try to do as much as possible outside of work. Enjoy your time and don't be afraid of anything new!
I met so many amazing people and saw such beautiful places that it is really hard to choose one. I would say my most memorable experience was the very first moment when we arrived in Las Vegas!
I will always remember my weekend in San Francisco. It is a wonderful city with a lot of history. Walking in the city is the best workout ever! The food there is good. I liked that city a lot.
Celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving with Americans.
Working in my office was the most memorable experience ever. Looking around I could see paintings by Andy Warhol, Picasso, Renoir, Oldenburg, Fontana and Rauschenberg. In my office there is more valuable art than in the contemporary art museum of my own town.
When my family came to see me we visited Rockefeller Center. After that we went to a restaurant which had school-style chairs so that everyone was in a circle facing each other when we ate. It was bizarre and funny.
I met somebody who is a really good friend now. We went on a road trip together, and we visited the Grand Canyon, besides a lot of other national parks. That was really a memorable experience. I think there is nothing else like it in the world. When we got there it was really cloudy and it looked like it was going to rain, but then the clouds opened up and there it was: A beautiful rainbow right over the Grand Canyon. We were really lucky. :-)
Every memorable experience I had came with the family I stayed with. They are friends of my parents and I hung out with their youngest daughter the most. It was just wonderful to see how they work and live as a family. I enjoyed every "family night", going to the movies, going out to eat, just hanging out, cooking and exercising. All the little stuff I enjoyed the most.
There are so many! I very much enjoyed my trip to Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Knicks play. I hadn't watched a basketball game before.
My most memorable experience was visiting The Penthouse at The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel and enjoying a view that every president since 1907 had enjoyed— and one that most people on this earth will never see.
On my last day at work we had a nice lunch with my closer colleagues. Then the entire company organized a huge farewell party for me. We had carrot cake (my favorite). Everybody left their desks to come, which I found really nice. We shared a lot of stories and funny experiences I had with them. Then we went bowling and I won. They all said, "The 'French Fries' beat the Americans." They always called me Frenchee. I really had a good time with my colleagues.
I enjoyed looking out of my office in Berkeley, CA on the first day and realizing it overlooked the entire San Francisco Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.
Two days after I arrived in the U.S., I went to a Halloween parade and I enjoyed seeing everybody wearing costumes. You can't see something like that in France.
I went to work in the autumn and as I walked around the corner one day, everything was covered in artificial snow because they made a movie here. It was amazing.
I left my iPhone in a taxi once. My friend called my phone and a gentleman answered. We decided to meet the next day as he was going to give me my phone back. Well, he did, amazingly. In Italy what you lose, you lose.
I liked to live with my roommate. She was very social, so she introduced me to a lot of different people from different cultures. She used to cook for me and to organize big dinners to enjoy food and conversations. All the people I met in this atmosphere were really open-minded and they all tried to know me and to understand my culture. With my roommate, we spoke a lot about American and French cultures: we tried to compare and make friendly jokes about that. It's easier to understand others' viewpoints when you have a good sense of humor. Some French people I met here had difficulties adapting because they didn't try to talk to American people. That's so sad.
We hope you enjoyed the advice! And remember, InterExchange Career Training USA is here 24/7 to answer your questions and help you prepare for your internship or training program.
For more tips and advice, check out InterExchange's very own Jenny B's article about her personal experience in New York City!
InterExchange is proud to have an experienced team that is dedicated to international cultural exchange. We come from a variety of backgrounds, but nearly every member of our New York City-based staff has extensive experience traveling, working, or living abroad.