Everyone faces the same chicken-and-egg situation when they move into the workforce.
Prospective employers want to hire people with experience, but the only way students can
gain experience is by getting that job. And so they find themselves between a rock and a
hard place. Or do they?

The truth is, there are actually some great ways that international students can gain
experience in their field of study while they are pursuing their education. We’ll run through
some of those options so you can get the experience you need!


An externship is not a term you hear often, but it’s the same idea as job shadowing. The objective here is to shadow someone in your field so you can get a feel for what the job is all about . The length of an externship can be one day or a few weeks – but the idea is that you’re just immersing yourself in the environment to soak up as much as you can.

You won’t have a job per se, so you’ll be able to focus all your time and attention on learning and networking in that environment – which will pay off for you later. Externships are also invaluable for checking that you’re on the right track when it comes to your studies. Because you never quite know what that job will look like until you see it in person.

During your externship, focus on making the most out of every opportunity. People are not going to hand you that experience on a silver platter. You need to ask questions, observe how things are done, and get clarity whenever you feel confused. The attitude you bring is going to dictate how much you get out of it.


Internships take things one step further and have you stepping into a real role in an organization . This role can be paid or unpaid. You essentially take on a short-term job in the field you’re interested in and have the opportunity to learn and experience what it’s like. You’ll have responsibilities and will be required to contribute meaningfully to the company. As a result, this can be an incredibly valuable experience for you.

You may believe that you can take on an internship during school breaks. But, Internships can be secured that are offered outside of regular school hours. Just make sure that you can manage your workload and that you don’t de-prioritize your studies as you do so.

It’s also important to understand that while you might feel pressure to deliver, people tend to give interns a little more leeway. The expectations aren’t as high. So, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Throw yourself into it and give it everything that you’ve got.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

One of the major benefits of being an international student at CSI is that you are also eligible for practical work training as regulated by the US Government. However, this job does have to be directly related to your field of study. Once you find an organization you’re interested in, reach out and ask them if they work with CPT candidates.

At CSI, we believe that this program is highly valuable for our students. We’ll ensure that it fits well into your studies and gives you the grounding that you’ll need to transition into the workforce. CPT can help you prepare for your future. It’s a wonderful benefit of studying with us.

Get Involved at CSI

There are also many opportunities on our various campuses to get some experience in your chosen field. More great ways to develop your skills include leading a community group – on or off-campus, volunteering for a specific cause, and more. With just a little out-of-the-box thinking, you might find that you can hone the relevant skills right where you are.

It’s the students that are proactive in seeking out these opportunities that succeed. So look for ways to help that are related to your field of interest, and you might be surprised at the experience you can gain.

So, there you have it. Those are just some of the ways that you gain work experience while you’re studying. And every little bit counts. Remember that you’re competing with others studying for a position in your chosen field, and you need to find ways to differentiate yourself.

If you can show a prospective employer that you took the initiative and got some valuable experience while you were studying, then you’ll put yourself in a league of your own.

We wish you all the best, and we can’t wait to see how you leverage this newfound experience to craft the career of your dreams!


1‘Externships: What They Are and Why They’re Important’ by Jacquelyn Smith.https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/05/30/externships-what-they-are-and-why-theyre-important/?sh=6c8d9d435100

2Everything You Need to Know About Internships–From What They Are to How to Get One’ by Lily Zhang.https://www.themuse.com/advice/what-is-an-internship-definition-advice