The Importance of Internships

With unemployment at 8% and the U.S. economy in recovery, the job market is very tight, which makes it that much harder for international students to find work after graduation. It’s estimated that 75% of jobs are found through professional connections or personal referrals. So how does one stand out in a pile of resumes? Apply for an internship and make those connections through organizations like IGSS while you’re still in school.

Here are some tips from IGSS on how to get started:

Register With Your University Career Center. Get a calendar of all career events, workshops and resume building tutorials. Meet with a Career Center advisor to help you create your resume template. Take advantage of all seminars offered.

Examine Your Strengths and Skill Set. Are you bilingual or trilingual? Promote these skills prominently in your cover letter. There are many global companies based in the U.S. in desperate need of international students that can properly translate their materials and explain cultural intricacies to their American employees.

Make a List of Target Companies. What industry are you most passionate about? Which companies are most likely to sponsor an H-1B Visa? Ask. Don’t waste your time interning for a great startup that could never provide a job after you graduate. Your time is valuable!

Attend School-Sponsored Job Fairs. Research the companies before you attend (most universities will provide a list prior to the fair). It’s quite impressive when you can share what you admire most about a prospective company. Ask recruiters what services and skills they need most and then tell them how you can help fill that need. Ask about potential employment in the future — and their corporate policy on H-1B Visa support.

Research the Company. provides an overview of a company and the latest industry news, along with employee/intern reviews. If they are a public company, check their earnings. When was the last time they had layoffs? Read everything you can find and decide if this is the culture you will be happy in — even if it’s just for a three-month internship.

Follow Your Target Companies on Social Media. Most companies have a social media profile that provides daily updates. Follow them on Twitter and “Like” them on Facebook. Follow them on LinkedIn, too and you will automatically receive job postings in your newsfeed.

Find a Mentor. Have you met someone that has a job you would love to have in the future? Ask them to be your mentor. Invite them to lunch (your treat) and ask the questions you really want to know. Perhaps you can intern at their company.

Ask for Recommendations. From your professors, classmates and internship supervisor. They can write these on your LinkedIn profile or provide them verbally via phone in the future. This will help tremendously in the application process.

Volunteer. In addition to internships, volunteer opportunities provide another way to make more connections, all while doing something positive for the community. New York Cares is a great organization that provides hundreds of volunteer opportunities to choose from in the metro area.

By attending IGSS, you will gain more insight into internship opportunities.

Class Participation: Speak Your Mind

In American classrooms, students are often encouraged to participate in group discussions and to challenge the viewpoints of both their classmates and professors. Individual insight is highly regarded in American academia and students who are quiet are reluctant to share their opinion may receive a lower participation grade.

Here are some tips from IGSS on how to become a better participant:

Prepare before class. Ask your professor if they can provide their lecture notes a day or two in advance, so you have time to review at your own pace and look up companies/phrases you may not be familiar with.

If you’re curious and want to know more about a particular topic, ask them to recommend additional readings, books and web sites where you can broaden your knowledge. They will appreciate your motivation.

Do not sit in the back of the classroom. Not only is it harder to hear and translate, but also you will be easily distracted by the other students in front of you and around you.

Take notes. Write down words, phrases, companies or cultural events you have not heard before. Remember to look them up after class so you will know in the future. If you do not understand the word the professor is saying, raise your hand, and ask, “Can you please spell the name of that company.”

Ask the professor to speak slower. If you are having trouble following the instructor’s lecture, it’s your right to ask them to slow down. If you feel embarrassed to do this in person, send a quick email after class. Tell them how much you enjoy their lectures, and would appreciate if they could just speak a little slower so you can fully understand.

Befriend American students. Understandably, you will feel most comfortable with other students that speak your native language. But do not miss the opportunity to expand your cultural perspective and make friends with students that are not from your home country. It’s easy — just ask them a question about themselves, or about something they shared in class. Group projects provide a natural path to new friendships.

Connect on American Social Media. Build a profile on popular social media networks including Facebook, Twitter and Google+. These will provide a pulse of what’s popular in American culture and also provide a way to build friendships with other students in the U.S.

If you plan on applying for an internship or job in the U.S., LinkedIn is a vital networking tool that displays your profile, experience and recommendations (from professors, colleagues). It also lists job opportunities, company information and industry news.

Remember, speak your mind; your opinions are appreciated!

IGSS Graduate Program to Launch in NYC August 5-12

Responding to the overwhelming desires of graduate students, the first phase of IGSS’ three-part year-long program will be held in the center of America’s cultural, academic and professional activity – New York City. Day and some evening sessions will be held at the NYC Seminar and Conference Center in the beautiful Chelsea section of Manhattan. If desired, rooms will be available at local hotels within a short-walk of the facility.

IGSS provides a year long learning and support program for incoming international graduate students. This program consists of three distinct phases:

  • An 8-Day Intensive Workshop where you learn and apply what you learn. The workshop is held at the New York Seminar Center in Manhattan and will finish before the start of individual university orientation programs.
  • Continued personalized guidance throughout the year.
  • Guaranteed opportunity – if you qualify – to interview for five summer internships reserved for program participants.

Dr. Laura Sicola of U of P Joins IGSS as Chief Learning Officer

Dr. Laura Sicola, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, has joined the IGSS team as Chief Learning Officer (CLO). Professor Sicola has been developing international students’ abilities and skills over the last 20 years and specializes in teaching educators how to most effectively develop English as Second Language (ESL) students.

Dr. Sicola is also founder of the Sicola Consulting Group. She leads training programs on intercultural communication for American companies that do business around the world, in countries such as China, Japan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, her Executive English training programs help international professionals who are fluent in English master the finer nuances of the language, including challenging issues such as accent/pronunciation, e-mail etiquette and presentation skills. She is fluent in Spanish, proficient in Japanese, and has studied Italian and Arabic.

Dr. Sicola’s conference presentations include:

  • Invited speaker, TESOL International, March 2012 (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Plenary address, Penn TESOL East, November 2011 (Abbington, PA)
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week (Cairo, Egypt)
  • Keynote speaker, TexTESOL II, February 2011 (San Antonio, TX)
  • TESOL (New York, NY and Boston, MA)
  • Japan-US Teacher Education Consortium (Tokyo, Japan)
  • The Association for Language Awareness (Lleida, Spain)
  • Families in Global Transition (Houston, TX and Washington, DC)
  • Task-Based Language Teaching (Honolulu, HI)
  • The Linguistic Academy University of Duisberg (Frankfurt, Germany), among others.

At IGSS, Professor Sicola will develop curriculum and other learning programs, be responsible for hiring additional faculty and also be lead instructor for many of the IGSS programs.

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