IT internship in the US?



  • I am from Europe, studying Business Informatics. I have plenty of IT-related work experience (from my part-time job and summer jobs) ranging from Project Mangement and Software Planning to Programming.  In the 6th semester my curriculum has scheduled an internship for February 2009 preceding bachelor examinations and bachelor thesis. It will last for about three months.
    I would like to do my internship in the US but I do not know how to start because there are a lot of unanswered questions:

    Is it common to send unsolicited applications to companies in the US? Try the big corporations? Should I go for an employment agency? Which ones to choose from?
    What about the pay? Where I come from it is common to pay only a fraction of what your work is actually worth if is called "internship". Does this apply to the US as well? Any other recommendations?



  •  you should talk to your school about this.  Most universities have full time people that help students connect up with employers.  Yes, it's very normal in the US to send unsolicited resumes.  But it's better if you have an inside connection like your university might be able to provide.  What area of the US are you looking at?  You can expect pretty good pay, but probbaly lower that if you were full time.  When I went from being an intern to full-time at my current company I got like a 45% raise or something like that.  Obviously your question is to vague for me to answer.  Interns are usually much less productive than full time people, so it makes sense to pay them much less.  Furthermore, every employee is payed "only a fraction" of what their work is worth.  Obviously that fractional amount changes, but if it is too large, the company won't make any money, so most employees are paid a fraction of what their work is worth.



  • @gerk said:

    What about the pay? Where I come from it is common to pay only a fraction of what your work is actually worth if is called "internship". Does this apply to the US as well?

    The companies that I've worked for that hire interns tend to pay them decently well, usually just a little less than a new grad would make in a similar role.  But that can obviously vary from company to company.

    One thing that you're definitely going to need to address is a Visa. There are other people who are more familiar with the this; hopefully someone will chime in, but you'll need some sort of legal permission to work in the US, and typically that permission is tied to a single company.

    As a result, your best chance might be with bigger companies who already deal with this sort of thing, many small companies will be put off by the extra work and cost up front necessary...especially if it's to hire an intern for just 3 months.

    If your school hosts 'job fairs' (as they are called here), then you can go and speak directly to people from various companies, and they might be able to give you more information.

    -cw



  • Just to be sure that we are talking about the same things here: Internship just means that you are working full-time in a position that is within the scope of your studies for a predetermined period of time. Apart from a (potential) lack of experience there are no cutbacks in terms of your productivity.

    By "a fraction of what your work is actually worth" of course I meant  "in comparison to somebody who is doing the same things you do except for the fact that his job is not tagged with 'internship'". I will also get in touch with the respective department of my university after the holidays but I wanted to get as much knowledge as possible in advance.



  • @CodeWhisperer said:

    @gerk said:

    What about the pay? Where I come from it is common to pay only a fraction of what your work is actually worth if is called "internship". Does this apply to the US as well?


    One thing that you're definitely going to need to address is a Visa. There are other people who are more familiar with the this; hopefully someone will chime in, but you'll need some sort of legal permission to work in the US, and typically that permission is tied to a single company

    This would be one of the main reasons for going through your school. They are more likely to know what the Visa requirements are and what hoops you need to jump through in order to meet those requirements.



  • @gerk said:

    Just to be sure that we are talking about the same things here: Internship just means that you are working full-time in a position that is within the scope of your studies for a predetermined period of time. Apart from a (potential) lack of experience there are no cutbacks in terms of your productivity.

     

    There is no way you will be as productive as some of the full time people there unless they are incredibly stupid and you are incredibly smart.  Given 3 months to work somewhere there is no way they can get you into the most complex parts of their software because you just don't have long enough to get familiar with their technology.



  •  @tster said:

    @gerk said:

    Just to be sure that we are talking about the same things here: Internship just means that you are working full-time in a position that is within the scope of your studies for a predetermined period of time. Apart from a (potential) lack of experience there are no cutbacks in terms of your productivity.

     

    There is no way you will be as productive as some of the full time people there unless they are incredibly stupid and you are incredibly smart.  Given 3 months to work somewhere there is no way they can get you into the most complex parts of their software because you just don't have long enough to get familiar with their technology.

     I agree completely but this lack of productivity is due to the fact that I would be new to a job and has got nothing to do with "the internship". Just as any new full-time employee won't be as productive in his first 3 months as the "seniors".

     /edit:

    But yes, I got what you were driving at and that is of course true. It is just that the gap in terms of salary compared to productivity is not bearable in Central Europe for an "intern".



  •  Actually interns would be less productive than a full time employee.  First they are less experienced that a full time would be.  Secondly, the company won't bother to get them involved in complex tasks that might take a month to get in to because they can't afford to waste 33% of your time there ramping up to the project.  Anyways, the gap is mostly caused by the fact that interns usually have 2-3 years of college experience and no related work experience, whereas a full time probably has 4-6 years college experience and 2-10 years work experience.  BIG difference.



  • My question was also posted on slashdot (http://ask.slashdot.org/askslashdot/08/08/11/1944207.shtml).

    I just want to add one more thing to the "productivity discussion":

    It would only make sense to compare interns and "experienced employees" over the same period of time (3 months) AND doing the same things. But interns are usually assigned much simpler tasks that can be picked up easily. So in terms of productivity interns are definitely not at 20 per cent of somebody doing the same thing as the intern but who is not called an "intern". I hope that it is clear now what I actually wanted to say.


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