How to Find an Economics Internship – International Student Guide

How to Find an Economics Internship - International Student Guide

As an international student, your options for internships in the U.S. are limited, but certainly not nonexistent.

An economics degree alone won’t land you a well-paying, high-satisfaction job. You will likely need an internship to boost your resume and give you work experience.

This guide will introduce you to the legal options you have, and the types of economics internships that you can land in the U.S.

Legal Aspects of Finding an Internship as an International Student in the U.S.

On-campus internships are available for all international students. For off-campus internships, however, your visa status plays an important role.

F1 visa holders are eligible for off-campus internships after having studied for at least two semesters at a university. This is called Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

J1 visa holders can apply for internships after studying at a university in the U.S. for one semester. This is called Academic Training.

Employers taking J1 visa holders on board for internships need to provide an offer letter, and documentation to the proper authorities for approval.

This additional paperwork often deters employers from hiring international students as interns. Highlighting your skills and cultural diversity in your applications is an essential way to make employers go the extra mile to hire you.

Where to Look for Economics Internships?

The key to landing an internship is applying early, often, and at as many organizations as possible.

The following will serve as the most suitable search points for international students wanting to land an economics internship:

  • International student service center or career center on campus. These offices should be your first option, as you stand a higher chance of landing on-campus internships. Also, the legalities will be explained to you, and the staff can provide assistance and answer questions.
  • Online sources. Everything that you are looking for can be found online. A lot of organizations accept international students for economics internships, primarily because they bring with them the experience of an international economy. Keep your eyes open for companies advertising internship openings on job boards and their own websites.
  • Specialized organizations. A couple of specialized organizations help international students find internships and even jobs in the U.S. AIESEC and CIEE are two of the most popular websites that you can consider.

Types of Internships for Economics Majors

Following are the most popular types of internships for economics majors:

  • Economist. If you are looking for a research-based internship opportunity where you can learn about the theoretical concepts of demand, supply, inflation, equilibrium, economic growth and more actually at play, look for economist internships. Such internship opportunities also include training for policy formulation, which helps land jobs in administrative departments and thinktanks in the future.
  • Actuary. If numerical reasoning is your strong point, an actuarial internship could be perfect for you. You must use statistics to analyze available data and identify financial risks, along with formulating strategies that can mitigate the risk. Such internships are offered by commercial organizations and often help land private-sector jobs.
  • Investment Analyst. For candidates who like to work with clients on a regular basis, investment analyst internships can be ideal. Such internships are stepping stones for entry into the investment banking field, and plenty of multinational corporations hire interns for such job roles.
  • Management. Those who are interested in business administration can intern as management trainees in the finance departments of organizations. Some organizations might only consider candidates pursuing a master’s program in economics for such job roles.

Landing the Internship of Your Choice

The first step towards landing an economics internship as an international student in the U.S. is to get your paperwork in place. Once that is done, make a list of the companies that you wish to intern with, and start sending out applications as early as possible.

Some tips that will help you sail smoothly through the internship search process include:

  • Apply early, and at multiple organizations. You might be interested in a specific internship, but make sure that it is not the only one you apply to. As soon as your semester begins, you can start looking for internships on company websites and job boards. This will ensure that you have an internship opportunity by the end of the semester.
  • Explicitly mention that your paperwork is complete. If you can make your employers believe that having you intern won’t be a legal hassle, they will be more open to having you onboard.
  • Highlight your linguistic abilities. Economics is an increasingly globalized field. Organizations have to deal with international players in the market, and having an intern who can speak another language is a plus. As an international student, it is your job to prove that you will be an asset to the employer.
  • Mention your experience from back home. Internships that you did in your home country, specific certifications, or even a strong grasp of your country’s economic affairs are worth mentioning on your resume. You should also bring up these points in the interview.
  • Keep your grades high. Companies want to hire people with a lot of knowledge about the field. This is true for internships as well. If your grades are subpar, finding a rewarding internship can be difficult.

FAQs about Economics Internships for International Students

Are internships essential?

Internships are usually not an academic requirement to pass a course. However, economics is a field where your classroom knowledge will not make up for the hands-on experience you’ll get by doing an internship. Internships can also help you find a mentor, build a network, find high-paying jobs in the future, and make money as a student.

Do economics internships pay?

Yes, you can find well-paying economics internships. On average, interns in the U.S make up to $13.84 USD per hour as of 2021.

What work can economics interns do?

Unlike certain other professions, economics interns are not expected to just do filing and clerical jobs. Most organizations make interns perform actual job duties, and many of them also offer full-time job roles to interns who perform well.

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