During your time studying in the US, you may have heard about Curricular Practical Training, also known as CPT. In short, it’s a program that allows you to take on a paid internship and gain meaningful work experience while you’re studying in America. Beyond just being a source of income, CPT brings numerous long-term benefits and should prove to be a real boost to your future career.
What is CPT?
CPT is a special work-study program for international students in the US designed to offer opportunities to work on or off-campus in paid positions both part-time and full-time as part of their overall studies. The idea is to help equalize international students who can’t access government funding for internship positions in the same way that American students can for work-study programs.
The salaries for these positions come from the employer, not the government, with the chief goal of being able to use the experience gained to advance in your chosen field. It’s not just to provide a source of income, the work must be meaningfully connected to your studies.
Job positions can be offered both on and off-campus. If they are on campus, international students can work part-time (20 hours or less per week), and the program can begin from their very first semester after enrolling in classes. If the positions are off-campus, students can work for 40 hours a week.
In addition, CPT is available to graduate students off-campus in their first year in the US, as long as their school in the US proves that employment is a required part of their studies and that it’s necessary for the employment to begin immediately. There are a number of regulations and requirements that have to be met both by the student and by the school to participate.
Benefits: How CPT Can Help You Advance Your Career
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of this program that international students enjoy.
1. You Can Earn Money
Ok, it’s true that earning money while you’re studying doesn’t directly advance your career, but it does help you to support yourself and your life in the US. It can also lessen the burden of asking your family for financial support. With that extra peace of mind, you can focus on your new job and the wealth of knowledge and experience it offers you.
2. Relevant Work Experience
Perhaps the greatest work-related benefit is the experience that you can gain from the CPT program. Because the work you’re doing is directly connected to your studies and your chosen field, you’ll finish your studies with invaluable knowledge and insight under your belt. When students typically look for paid employment while studying, they typically settle for the type of work that doesn’t relate to their course of study: retail clerk, restaurant serving, etc.
Service jobs are good, honest work for American students, but it splits their focus and means that their working lives haven’t contributed as much to their overall career path as those who undertake CPT. The Curricular Practical Training program is beautifully tailored to create an ideal first entry on your resume as you later prepare to find work in your chosen field.
3. A Chance to Work on Your Language Skills
As an international student, if English is not your first language, you have likely been working hard to improve that while engaged in your studies. However, one problem is that your school environment can become too comfortable as you get used to talking to your friends, other classmates, and teachers. Taking part in CPT will place you in a new language environment that will challenge you to take your language skills to a new level.
A working environment is more formal and one where communication as a skill is extremely important. You won’t just improve your English language skills but also your general communication skills in the American workplace. Proficiency in cross-cultural communication is a skill that is valued around the world today.
4. Better Chance of Employment After Graduation
People nowadays like to joke about employers looking for “entry-level” applicants with plenty of existing work experience. It’s a cause of concern for some, but you will actually fit the bill as an international student who has completed the CPT program. Perhaps a few of the other applicants have work experience, but how many of them have work experience directly related to this field? In this way, CPT will help set you apart from others.
CPT – Grab the Bull by the Horns!
If you have a chance to participate in a CPT program, then it’s well worth the extra effort to take it on. It may be challenging, but there’s so much to gain that you’ll be glad that you did.
Contact CSI today to learn about CPT options with our programs.