Many Wilson majors require internships and many international students want to participate in internships. This requires the cooperation of the academic advisor, International Scholar Services (I.S.S.), the student, USCIS, and the employer.
The responsibility is upon the individual student to comply with USCIS regulations regarding internships. However, you should know:
- Students need a letter stating that the internship is either required for the major or recommended (not required) for the major.
- Students can only do internships directly related to their major.
- Filing paperwork for internships can be a lengthy process. Wilson College recommends international students begin planning for an internship a semester in advance.
- Internships are considered a privilege for international students and may be denied.
- International students are required to be a full-time student for at least nine months preceding the internship.
Please discuss your individual situation with I.S.S.
An internship is defined as a learning experience in which traditional classroom learning is applied through practical hands-on job experiences. The internship represents an opportunity to help students develop personal, professional, and academic goals. Internship experiences link the classroom to the real world of work, therefore solidifying academic competencies.
It also gives students the opportunity to explore various possibilities while still in school. For the participating business, agency, or institution, there is the added benefit of using highly motivated and, in most cases, unpaid labor, with fresh approaches and different outlooks.
Internships are designed to relate to a student's field of study. The internship assignment is intended to augment classroom work by enabling the student to observe actual events in a job context, and to participate in the process of applying theoretical principles to real-life situations.
Although students are generally paying tuition for the privilege of working as unpaid interns, the program can yield important pay-offs for the participants. For instance, the internship can give a student the chance to test the strength of a particular career interest and to establish contacts with individuals in a given field of study. During an internship, a student is free to make mistakes, a luxury not often available in the real world of work.
Internships may be full-time or part time. Employment for less than 20 hours per week is considered part-time; employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. You can only do full-time during school breaks, summer, or with special permission.
There is a time limit on CPT and OPT. Discuss your specific case with International Student & Scholar Services. The rules are complex.
General guidelines (certainly not complete):
- During your vacations and other times when school is not in session if you are currently enrolled in classes and intend to enroll for the next term.
- When school is in session, provided that you do not work more than 20 hours per week while school is in session.
- After the completion of course requirements for your B.A. degree (excluding a thesis).
- After completion of the course of study (graduation). You must complete all OPT within 14 months following the completion of study, unless you are STEM eligible, as the rules permit an additional seventeen months of OPT.
You must have received support and recommendations from both your academic advisor and from International Student & Scholar Services (I.S.S.S.). Also be aware that not every student is eligible for paid internship experience. Communication with I.S.S.S. is crucial, so please keep in touch.
Students must inform in a timely manner both I.S.S.S. and their academic advisor of their intent to pursue an OPT internship. We recommend planning a semester in advance, because the USCIS paperwork can take months. By being well prepared, the student will experience less anxiety. You need USCIS authorization before you can start OPT.
- Attend the Internship 101 Workshop through the career development center; internship packet will be distributed at that time.
- Complete a resume and consult with the Director of Career Development for a critique.
- Determine your internship site. This varies depending on your major.
- NOTE: Students intending to use their present job as their internship must submit two job descriptions with their application. One outlining their present position responsibilities, and the second outlining the new learning objectives and responsibilities that will take place during the internship.
- Consult with your Faculty advisor about additional work assignments and the learning agreement (will be explained in the Internship 101 Workshop).
- Meet with your internship site supervisor to discuss your outlined learning objectives and internship responsibilities and to obtain his/her signature.
- You must obtain several signatures, so start early!
- Signatures include the following: student's faculty advisor, employer, academic advisor, academic dean, director of career development, I.S.S.S. Director (if on an F-1 visa) and lastly, the registrar.
- Register for internship.
- Attend the Internship Orientation at the start of the semester in which you enrolled for your internship.
How to Get Started
- Attend an Internship 101 workshop. Dates for the workshop can be found on the CDC Events Calendar
- Complete a resume. If you need assistance, stop by Lenfest 103 and check out the self-serve files or go to the resume web pages (quick Link this). For individual help, see the Director of Career Development.
- Talk to you faculty advisor about goals you have for yourself during your internship and the goals your advisor has for you.
- Start to research possible sites. Contact the Director of Career Development if you need help.
- View the Ebulletins to see what new internship opportunities have come into the CDC.
- Complete you paperwork and turn it in to the registrar.
Curricular Practical Training must be an integral part of established curriculum. You must have a specific and definite job location and job offer in order to apply for CPT. This may be a full-time or part-time internship, work experience or practicum. Because you will earn academic credit, you must pay Wilson tuition during your practical experience.
Students who work fulltime for 12 months or more during CPT will not be eligible for OPT.
What do I need for CPT?
A completed Wilson CPT form (above)
Authorization from the International Student & Scholar Services office
- A letter from the employer indicating the job title, dates of employment, number of hours per week, place of employment, and a brief description of the work
- A completed internship packet available at Career Services with all signatures submitted to the Registrar's Office
- Your current I-20
- A photocopy of your I-94 (front and back)
- Register for internship course and pay Wilson College tuition for the credit(s) you will earn on your internship
If you feel that you are eligible for OPT and would benefit from practical training in your field of study, request a recommendation from the I.S.S.S. Director. A Wilson College DSO has to recommend you for OPT in SEVIS and provide you with an updated I-20 showing the recommendation. You will submit the updated I-20 with the application for employment authorization. You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. However, the approval time for OPT may be months, and you must pay a fee to Department of Homeland Security when applying for authorization.
What do I need for OPT?
- A completed Wilson College OPT recommendation form available on the Wilson web site
- Copies of all your I-20's
- A completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, available online
- Photocopy of your I-94 (front and back)
- Photocopies of EAD (front and back), if you had prior EAD(s)
- Photocopies of passport (photo page, renewal page, amendments pages)
- Photocopy of visa page
- Two new passport photos with your I-94 number and your name written lightly on the back in pencil
- $380 as a check or money order made payable to U. S. Department of Homeland Security (check this amount because it may change)
Bring your completed packet to the International Student & Scholar Services office for review. A recommendation will be made in SEVIS and a new I-20 issued. You may then mail the application packet for processing. You may not participate in OPT until you receive authorization from USCIS. Again, this process can take months!
There are two types of training available to international students:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- CPT is required or an integral part of your curriculum in order to graduate.
- OPT is recommended by your major but not required.
All internships must be related to your major and in your field. For example, an equestrian studies student cannot work at a bank even if it is a great job offer at the bank.
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