There is no secret that finding the right internship can be stressful. International students entering the United States with an F1 visa qualify to work legally either during or after their studies if they meet one of many requirements. In addition to proving enough financial support, you’ll have to demonstrate your acceptance to an institution or university, and your intent to return home after your studies and internships for international students. Students on the F1 student visa can choose to do an Optional Practical Training to complete an internship.
F-1 students at Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified colleges, universities, seminaries or conservatories can participate in summer practical training. Curricular practical training (CPT) is a full-time or part-time training opportunity available during the school year or annual summer vacation. CPT can be authorized by your DSO but must be part of your academic program and be integral to your major field of study. Pre-completion optional practical training (OPT) is another training option for F-1 students that can be full time during summer vacation. Pre-completion OPT must relate to your major, and you must file a Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization,” with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to receive authorization before beginning your training opportunity. Summer internships require authorization if you are working and training in a position where the organization would usually hire and pay someone. If an internship is unpaid, it can still be authorized as a practical training experience. If you are unsure what authorization you need for an unpaid internship, your DSO can help.
As you are getting ready to apply for an internship, first you’ll need to take a list of what you want the internship to be. Do you want a small or big firm? What type of work interests you the most – single-family residential, commercial, green architecture, etc.? You may not get to choose your situation in this current economic climate, but at least you can have some clarity in your pursuit. You might be wide open to any possibility. That’s ok, too, but it should help you reach a clear goal. Vagueness does not inspire employer confidence.
Remember to research the firms that you want to apply to. Get familiar with their work, with their projects. Ask your professors, mentors, directors if they are familiar with that firm, and if they are, ask them for insight. Research their methods and their dynamics. When applying to the firm, emphasize what you like from the firm in the cover letter so the person reading your application can know that you are familiar with them and that you are showing interest and excitement too. But, don’t forget to research about the benefits they are willing to provide for their interns because you wouldn’t want to work for someone who would make you feel that your time is going to b wasted so pay attention to the benefits.
An internship involves someone at an office devoting a tremendous amount of energy and time into training an intern. Showing that you have organizational and interpersonal skills is as important as a beautiful portfolio. AutoCAD capability is important to the actual day to day practice in an office; however, students who can draw well are valued as they are becoming a rare breed.