Hey all! So today’s post is going to be about how I got my internship in New York and how YOU can get one too! Let me tell you, it’s
fucking kind of hard and it requires a lot of tedious work. But it’s definitely definitely do-able. I can’t guarantee you that it’ll be paid but it’s not unheard of. If you’re a schedule type of person, I recommend factoring in about 6-10hrs/week to look for one and prepare the applications. I think that’s how much time I spent, at least.
(Note: upon request, I’d be happy to make post about other non-internship types of visas)
Step 1: Figure out the type of visa you need to go to the US as a paid/unpaid intern from your country (if you’re a US citizen, skip to Step 2)
- Unfortunately, you can’t do an internship with merely a tourist visa. At least not legally. I may not be an expert but I did read the US immigration website back and forth at least twice.
- The visa you want is the J-1 “exchange visitor visa” — find more info here
- It is easier to find an internship and get an appropriate visa if you’re enrolled in or right out of university — find out at your career centre of what type of programs you can do to work abroad (e.g. in the US)
- If you don’t want to bother with paperwork or doing it all by yourself, try to go through an “international exchange” or a “working holiday visa” program
- The website you need to check out to find out about all the available exchange programs is www.iena.org — IENA is an organization that promotes cultural exchanges throughout North America. Not sure if this includes Mexico or not. It should but who knows, #racism.
- SWAP is the program I’m doing (note: pretty pricey)
- You can also try becoming an au-pair or a camp counsellor (cheaper)
- I recommend checking at the US consular office/website of your country. You can also send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Important: before you start applying for internships you need to have a clear idea of how you will get a visa and make sure to include that in your resume or cover letter. Otherwise, your potential employer might not take you seriously. Don’t lie.
Step 2: Make a list of your most “marketable” skills
- I’m serious, this will make it easier to find positions that suit you best
- Include the following
- languages you speak
- communication skills (you write well? you can speak to people? include it!)
- sports you play
- any internet/social media skills (i’m dead serious)
- computer software you can use (microsoft excel, imovie, etc.)
- experience relevant to the position
I recommend including this as the first rubrique of your resume because it’s the first thing that a potential employer will read, right?
Step 3: make a list of all the cool places where you’d like to intern and their websites
Strategy 1 – Use google maps
- Go to google maps, search for “New York City” and type a few key-words relevant to the type of internship you want to get. For example, if you want to work in advertisement, search “advertising company/agency”, like this:
- Then you’ll get a the location of all advertising companies in manhattan/brooklyn/queens. Like this:
- Make a list (in excel or word) of all the ones that have cool locations or that seem cool and their websites
- Go through the websites and see if they offer summer paid/unpaid internships – you won’t believe how many agencies, companies, organizations, and institutions do!
Strategy 2: General and specialized job search engines
- There are many places where you can find jobs and internships besides craigslist (although craigslist is not bad and is worth a look)
- Those of you who want to work in NGOs or socially-minded organizations or projects: http://www.idealist.org/
- It’s also a good idea to peruse Charity Navigator and make a list from the organizations that you find more interesting
- Those of you interested in working in environmental organization, check out:
- Those of you with more broad interests, check out:
- Unpaid internships are definitely easier to get. If money is an issue (it is for me), make sure it’s not a full-time position so that you can get a part-time job
- Make sure you have at least two people (a prof or a previous employer) who are willing to write you a letter of reference or be your reference
- Check out the NYC group at Couchsurfing.org — a travel online community (it’s free)
- Go to New York as a tourist a couple of times and try to meet people – it REALLY HELPS to go on a “reconnaissance mission” before moving there.
- Check out AIESEC – they have a bunch of programs for current university students and recent grads (global organization) who want to go study/volunteer/work abroad. definitely check it out!!!
- Don’t be scared to email and re-email or even call if they initially get back to you and then stop.
- Leave a comment if you have any more questions!
I found my internship through idealist, actually. It’s unpaid but exactly what I want to do, which is work in environmental education programs. I have no doubt it’ll be awesome. I’m gardening with kids all summer! So fun.
My next post will be on how I’m trying to find a place!