Working in America: Mission Possible!

Almost every student’s ideal summer plans include travelling abroad, meeting new people and, on top of that, making some spare money for the next year. Or even better – gaining some useful experience, from which one’s CV would surely benefit. Yet, while many consider going after an internship in Europe, not many students are feeling confident about taking one in the USA. Charming Parenthese’s  representative Miriam tells us why going to the US is not as impossible as it seems.

Statue of Liberty

photo credit: Storm Crypt via photopin cc

No matter how short the stay abroad might be, a proper visa is always required in order to secure an unproblematic stay .The first thing that every student should consider before even starting a search for an internship or a summer job in the US is getting a J1 visa. J1 visas can be easily obtained and a J1 approval is absolutely guaranteed. Applying for a J1 visa is done through internship companies, such as Parenthese. Parenthese is the oldest and largest sponsor of J1 visas, dealing with over 300, 000 participants per year. The roles of sponsors such as Parenthese include help with job search, verification of  employer and providing up to $ 1,000 000 health and accident insurance, which in the UK might seem  an outrageous sum, but is something considerably normal in the US.  When looking for a sponsor company, Miriam warns us, choose wisely. If it’s too good to be true and prices are suspiciously low, then it probably is, because the company does not cover insurance. This might not be a big problem for those who are looking just for a summer job, but with internships being usually around 12 months, insurance shouldn’t be ignored.

Miriam also gave us insightful tips on how to find an internship and have a successful interview. First of all, getting an employer isn’t as hard as it seems – finding an internship can take as little as three to six weeks, while finding a summer job can be easily done in less than ten days. When applying for an internship or a summer job in the US, the most important thing is the cover letter, in which the applicant should inform the employer that all the paperwork has been done and the J1 visa is provided. Sharing your motivation for the position and persuading that you are the best person to do it comes on a later stage. The first and most important thing is to inform your employer that you have a J1 visa and hence you are eligible to work in the US and you have a sponsor. American CVs, unlike UK ones, are not longer than a page. Applicants are not required to provide any photos of themselves or any information about their age. However, putting links to your University site and listing all the modules you have done is quite important. Another helpful thing is having a driver’s license, since public transport in America is not as connected as in Europe.

Applying for a job is all about the small details. For example, if your email or voice mail have been set-up when you were still a teenager, maybe you should consider setting up a new, more formal (and, yes, boring!) email. Or better yet – use your university email, rather than a @hotmail one. Standing out from the crowd is important, but a wacky email name is not the way to do it – leave being unique for the interview. That being said, it is good to know that American interviews are often done via the phone or Skype. If the interview is via Skype, make sure you choose a neutral space (no posters or photos on the walls) and you dress appropriately. Smile, be nice, and demonstrate that you are a team player and willing to learn, keep an open mind and always send a ‘thank you’ email after the interview. Remember – this is the chance to show off your personality. And personality counts a lot!

When applying, location is also very important.  Although ideally we would all want to live in the Big Apple or be star struck in LA, living costs should be kept in mind. The bigger the city – the higher the living costs. And vice versa – spending a summer in Alaska might not be the ideal summer plan, but being in the middle of nowhere also means fewer expenses on living costs. Hence, deciding whether you want to save up money, gain relevant experience or just have a good time is crucial when choosing your placement or summer job.

Speaking of money, a first or second year Finance student doing a placement would usually get around $1,000 – $2,000 a month, while a third year student – $3,000. Furthermore, 75% of the employers are willing to pay sponsors’ fees.  As for summer jobs, fees are not covered by the employer, yet accommodation is often included and tips, which are obligatory in US, usually double the negotiated salary.

Last, but not least, Miriam advises “If you have a passion, try and marry it with your internship!” Dream big and don’t be afraid to pursue your ambitions – you’ll be surprised how many big companies such as L’Oreal, Hermes, Sony Pictures, Disney, Microsoft are offering paid placements for young and determined people. Even if you don’t get a response or receive a negative one, continue getting back to them every now and again and success will inevitably land on your shoulders.


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