InterExchange Trainee USA participants are always sharing positive feedback regarding their U.S. training experiences. They come away from their cultural exchange experience with advanced skills in their career fields and new friendships and professional networks. These successful experiences are due in large part to host employers who provide exceptional training. So what makes a great host employer? We have compiled a list of best practices for employers hosting international trainees.
A formal introduction to the company is necessary for trainees to get familiar with the office environment and meet the staff they will be working with on a daily basis.
2. Company/Training Program Handbook
Whether a written guide or website, it’s important for trainees to have access to information about the company and its policies if they have questions. It’s important to have a written document that outlines trainee benefits as well, such as paid time off, sick days, or any other company benefits you are offering. Also, the DS-7002 Training Internship Placement Plan serves as an additional resource for both you and your trainee to refer to, as it details the role and responsibilities of the trainee and the program goals. A copy of this executed document is emailed to the supervisor upon program approval.
3. Professional-level Assignments
Responsibilities cannot consist of more than 20% basic or clerical tasks. Programs must be professional in nature. Not only will trainees get more out of the experience, but you will also benefit. Ensure that you are always providing challenging tasks and responsibilities to your trainees while also fully supporting them as they learn and have questions.
Living in the U.S. is very expensive. Trainees should be compensated in some way for their services, whether through a stipend, monthly or hourly wage, or through transportation, housing, or meal benefits. If you cannot offer any compensation, ensure you’ve met the Department of Labor’s six criteria for unpaid internships.
5. Culture Shock
Each trainee will handle living in a foreign country and working in a new environment differently, just as your U.S. employees may react differently to trainees from other cultures. Business practices in the U.S. may differ from those in other countries, so it’s important to be sensitive as trainees adjust to their new role and surroundings. Not all trainees are comfortable raising concerns without your invitation, so it’s also a good idea to ask if your interns are happy or if they are experiencing any issues. Ask trainees about their culture and encourage your employees to learn about your trainees’ culture as well. This is a cultural exchange program, and your U.S. employees will benefit from the cross-cultural work environment as well. Your U.S. employees’ willingness to learn about other cultures and ways of doing things will help your trainees to feel more comfortable as they adjust to life in the U.S.
6. Language Barriers
All participants will have verifiable English language skills before being approved for the program, but it’s important to keep in mind that communication in English takes some getting used to. Many trainees participate in the program because they are eager to practice and improve their English proficiency. Be patient as they improve their skills, and be careful with idioms and slang, which take more time to learn and understand.
7. Company Integration
Include the trainee in company activities and traditions-both in and out of the office. Some examples include office sports teams, group lunches, parties or picnics, or even a speaker series. Make them feel like a part of the team and encourage their involvement.
Particularly for longer training programs, evaluations (written or in person) allow you to touch base with the trainee and assess the program and the trainee’s performance. Weekly check-ins are another way to track progress and provide feedback and guidance, and they also put aside a set time where trainees can discuss any questions. Employers and trainees are required to complete final online evaluations through InterExchange, as well as interim evaluations for programs lasting six months or longer. However, you should evaluate your trainees more regularly to ensure the program is successful.
9. Exit Interview
Conducting an exit interview is a great way to gather feedback on trainees’ experiences at your company so that you can improve the program for your future trainees. It is also a great opportunity to assess what your trainees have learned about U.S. business culture, as this may help to inform your practice if you move into a more global work environment.
10. Keep in Touch!
After trainees return to their home countries and continue advancing their careers, you may want to stay in contact with them via email or LinkedIn. Not only are you a great resource and reference for them as they develop as professional peers, but maintaining this connection/contact will expand your global network in the future.
Questions about our Career Training USA program? You can always consult the Employer Handbook.