An internship is the first corporate exposure of a student which rewards them in a number of ways. It gives a student an opportunity to experience what it would be like to work after they get a job, in addition to giving a sense of accomplishment, networking opportunities, a lot to learn, and sometimes even, a pre-placement offer.
And if this internship opportunity is in a country like The United States, it is like a dream come true for an Indian intern. The keenness to experience the American work culture, to work with the innovative companies, to live in a developed neighbourhood, and to network internationally is both enticing and rewarding.
However, have you ever wondered why Indian students find it difficult to get an internship in American companies? Why students from colleges other than IITs struggle have to invest a lot of money and if possible influence to get the desired internships? Because there are many challenges that make it difficult for Indian students. Challenges such as:
With a student requiring a OPT/CPT visa, certain uncertainties may be associated, such as the risk of a refused visa, the time required to obtain a visa and the lost opportunities because of the time lag. Other visa options, such as a J-1 visa or an F-1 visa are also available but their eligibility criteria and the sponsorship requirements may not be most convenient for most Indian students.
Lack of Practical Skills and Applied Knowledge
There is a fundamental difference between the Indian pedagogy and the American one. Most institutes in India focus on students obtain good grades but lack in cultivating a culture of applying the knowledge to a practical usage.
For instance, very few Indian students of computer science or IT have their own Github repositories, StackOverflow profiles, or a tech blog. Most students do not even update their university pages. On the other hand, most American students spend their time solving own little technical problems and keep their Internet footprint abreast regularly. This takes away the opportunity from the Indian students when compared with their American counterparts.
Poor Interview and Communication Skills
Communication skills of the Indian students in English are often not suitable for the internship positions in the USA that require a native fluency. Especially, the written communication. An internship application written with broken English or phoney language in out rightly rejected.
In addition, most colleges in India prepare their students for being interviewed by the Indian companies. The interview patterns, questions, and the skills required for an interview at an American firm may be quite different from what they are for an Indian company.
Most companies, regardless of whether they are American or not, prefer to hire interns that are local to the offices’ locations. This gives an added advantage to the locally placed interns over someone who would need to fly all the way from India to join. Of course, there is an inherent cost and time advantage for the employers to hire someone available at a short distance.
Cost of Travel and Lodging
A travel to the USA is expensive and the lodging near an employer’s premises may make it unaffordable for an average Indian student. This is one major reason why it becomes very difficult for an Indian student to intern at the USA.
In addition to the above factors, lack of information, lack of support from the current educational institution, a quality resume, and a limited number of internship opportunities for the international students are the factors that make it difficult for the Indian students. This is why it is important to pay attention to addressing these challenges early in your student years if you want to land a successful internship opportunity in the USA.