Finding an internship in the U.S. can be a daunting task, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the search process and suitable host companies. For two Career Training USA participants, Pierre B. and James W., patience and a desire to propel their careers led each to an internship at Casa Dragones in New York. Pierre B. is a graphic design student from France interning in the Content and Design department, and James W. is an Advertising & Marketing student from the U.K. interning directly with the Digital Media Coordinator.
Pierre B. and James W. checked in with InterExchange to discuss their experiences as international students interning at Casa Dragones.
InterExchange: Tell us about your internship search process: How did you find your host and how long did it take?
Pierre: “I was searching for an internship in New York City for a long time. When I figured, I needed to obtain a J1 visa, I started to search for open positions on LinkedIn. Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of time in the beginning because I wasn’t focusing on the right company. I was put in contact with my company through an announcement on a website. It took me approximately 4 weeks between the beginning of my research and the signature of my intern contract.”
James: “To find my host it took months because I was doing it independently, and I also didn’t know about U.S. Visa laws. For the first 2 months, I kept putting ‘I am not eligible to work in the U.S.’ on all my applications, thinking that I needed my visa to be eligible. After I watched some YouTube videos on the application process, I started filling out the forms right.
I used Indeed.com, LinkedIn, and looked at brands that I wanted to intern for and well-known brands which I knew had an internship program that had worked with international students previously. The most effective resource I found was LinkedIn. I was able to find brands that I wanted to train at in a specific area (New York), and then began cold emailing them. This generated a lot of responses from agencies and brands, which was great and started conversations with the decision makers. I 100% recommend this method. Overall, it took around 4 months of searching and applying for positions.”
InterExchange: What is a typical day at your internship like?
Pierre: “My days usually start at 10 AM. I live in Long Island City (Queens), and as I intern in Chelsea (Manhattan), and it takes me around 30 minutes to go to the office. The first thing I do when I get into the office is make my tea, and then I start working. I’m training as a graphic designer and focus on art direction. My day really depends on the company’s needs – it changes every day! Though, I can say that my training plan responsibilities include photo editing, Instagram’s content, advertising graphics, and photo shoots. We recently launched a new product, and being part of this from a design perspective was fascinating. As a small company, everything is going really fast, and it’s pleasant to see that we can achieve a lot in a day.
I take my lunch break around 2 PM, and I often go to the Highline to eat pizza! New York pizza is fantastic and the Highline is a really nice place to eat lunch. I work until 7 PM at the office since we regularly have some video conference meetings with the Mexican team and participate in tequila tasting.”
James: “I am currently training with the paid media team within my company. I shadow management of the digital advertising channels spending, strategy, and funnels. In addition, I work with my team in the formation of digital partnerships with publications like Esquire, Nobleman, etc. We recently released a new product, so helping lead the digital media side of the launch was really exciting.”
InterExchange: What are some professional goals you have achieved thus far in your program?
Pierre: “It’s really hard to have a first-hand experience in the luxury industry, and I’m really glad I had this opportunity with Casa Dragones. It was something I really wanted to try, and now that I’m here, I don’t want to work in any other industry now.”
James: “Training at Casa Dragones has allowed me to learn how to launch a new product, taking over the paid media from an outside agency and bringing it in house, and helping grow the brand’s digital presence.”
InterExchange: What have you enjoyed most about training with your employer?
Pierre: “Casa Dragones was the perfect first experience in both the luxury and spirits industry. I have been learning so many things from everyone in the companies, about design, communication and marketing. It’s a great work environment where we progress every day. Also, we regularly have tequila tastings during events, and I was so happy to try it. It’s the first time that I was able to drink top-shelf spirits as it is a premium label tequila brand. I was only a drinker of cheaper spirits, and now my palette has now completely changed.
James: “Everyone is really great at what they do here, so I’ve been learning so much from everyone, whether it’s negotiation skills, information about America, or industry perspective.”
InterExchange: How have you experienced U.S. culture and how have you shared your culture with others?
Pierre: “I have made some friends at work, and we explore New York City every week. This past winter I had the opportunity to visit most of the museums in the city. My favorite is definitely the Metropolitan Museum. It is incredible! I would like to visit and see more of Long Island. I really loved Fire Island and the Hamptons, it’s so peaceful and nice! And of course, during all the events of Casa Dragones, I had the opportunity to learn more about U.S. culture and citizens.” Check out Pierre’s recommendations of his favorite destinations in the U.S!
James: “I’ve learned more about American culture through participating in events like Thanksgiving, going out with American friends and exploring different areas of the U.S., like Boston. I’ve also shared my culture with others by comparing how things are different or similar to the U.S. from time to time, people tend to find it interesting.”
InterExchange: What would you tell a friend about participating in an internship in the U.S. through InterExchange?
Pierre: “I would tell them that it’s a unique life experience that they should try and experience once in their lives. It’s so different from everything I have seen and done so far. Also, It’s a great way to discover yourself – I’ve grown a lot since I live in New York City.”
James: “I’d say it’s been the most interesting experience in my life and I’ve grown so much since I first arrived here. I 100% recommend this program.”