Every business has a unique style and way of operating. Many of these suggestions have worked for other host employers, and although not all of these suggestions may be feasible for your business, they have worked in the past and can inspire ideas that are relevant for you. We also recommend viewing our Best Practices for Host Employers:
Orient your international intern/trainee to your office culture.
A formal introduction to the company is important for international interns/trainees to get familiar with the office environment and meet the staff they will be working with on a daily basis. Make sure to explain the office culture, how to use office equipment, how to handle emergencies and work-related injuries and other information that will prepare them to be successful. Whether you provide a printed or online guide, it’s important for interns/trainees to have easy access to information about the company and its policies if they have questions. Written information that outlines intern benefits, such as paid time off, sick days and other benefits that apply to them, is important as well.
Include interns and trainees 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. Interactions between them and their American peers are an essential part of the cultural exchange experience!
Provide the participant with a clear set of guidelines.
As with any employee, when your expectations are presented in a straightforward and honest manner, the participant will be more aware of what he or she should and should not do. The first impression often sets the tone for the rest of the program.
Regular communications with the participant enhance the experience for everyone.
The majority of misunderstandings arise from poor communication or a cultural difference. Also, in certain cultures, it is not appropriate for subordinates to address concerns with superiors. If you notice the participant is having a difficult time, you will need to take the first step and open the conversation. Listen to the participant’s concerns, and let him or her know that it is okay to discuss any issues or concerns he or she is experiencing.
Set schedules and deadlines for the participant.
Clear schedules and deadlines will help the participant know what to expect and can help avoid misunderstandings about his or her commitment to you.
Remain sensitive to the needs of the participant.
Many employers comment on how impressed they are with their intern/trainee’s behavior and his or her ability to adapt. However, if the participant is having trouble, try to imagine yourself in a similar situation. Your individual intern/trainee may require some extra attention or extra assistance. If you welcome the participant properly, treat him or her fairly and communicate openly, the experience should be mutually enjoyable.
If the participant is reluctant to speak English upon first arriving, it is best to encourage him or her to practice using English as much as possible.
Participants who get into the habit of speaking in their native language tend to make slower progress. The more English the participants speak, the easier their time here will become. It may be difficult at first, but it is very important that participants challenge themselves to adapt to interacting in English to make the most of the exchange experience.
If there is interest, organize an international food night, a barbecue, or an outing for your staff.
Activities encourage staff cohesion and provide an alternate setting for social interactions outside of the working environment. Group events also give participants a feeling for how people from the U.S. interact outside of work and give them a chance to educate you and your staff about different countries and cultures. These types of benefits have long been a secret of successful host employers everywhere. Simple social activities may seem obvious, but they can have a strong, lasting effect on employee–employer relations.
Organize a company sports team within a community league.
Getting the participant familiar with the host community is an important part of the program and informal team sports often encourage the participant to meet and get to know the American members of the local area.
Enjoy a Successful Experience With InterExchange Career Training USA
We hope that you have a rewarding time hosting a J-1 visitor, and we look forward to working with your company. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have and we will be very happy to help. Please keep this handbook as a reference throughout the program. Other helpful resources can be found on our website:
Thank you for hosting an intern or trainee through our cultural exchange program!