How to Recruit and Hire International Interns

Jul 4, 2013

suny global engagementWhen it comes to recruiting and hiring interns, the best candidates aren’t always located within a 25-mile radius — or even the United States. Sometimes the candidates with the most experience and fit for your company culture are located across the globe.

In a recent InternMatch survey, 56 percent of companies reported they don’t hire international interns. The initial challenge of expanding their intern recruiting and hiring to other countries may be what’s turning them away. But with only 10 percent of companies sharing that they feel their internship programs are highly diverse, taking on international interns could be hugely beneficial for increasing diversity and global perspective for your company.

Consider adding international interns to your internship program roster. It’s worth the work. Here are a few of the benefits and challenges of hiring international interns:

Benefit: Access to more talented students. Some of the best colleges and universities are overseas, like the University of Cambridge and the University of Hong Kong. Tapping into international networks of students will increase your ties with these universities and put you at the forefront of nabbing great talent before the competition.

Benefit: Gain a new perspective. Hiring interns from the countries where your company has already built a presence in or is looking to expand to will give you access to local knowledge and insights from that region. Your international intern could be a great stepping stone to improve your company’s ties with your customers or client.

Challenge: The overall hiring process. Bringing on an international intern is nothing short of tedious. It often takes a lot of time, money, and know-how to get the job done — I’ll get to this process in a bit. For some employers, they weigh the challenge of the hiring legwork greater than the benefits of an international intern.

Challenge: Recruiting methods. Engaging and recruiting international students for your internship program may seem challenging to some employers. But with a strong employer brand and effective recruiting methods, gaining the interest of international talent is worth your efforts. There are also many agencies available to help make your recruiting more effective.

How To Hire International Interns

International intern hiring may seem complicated. Fortunately there are a few organizations out there dedicated to helping employers bring on talented international students. If you’re interested in international hiring, the Council on International Educational Exchange will work with you and your potential intern hire to get the ball rolling. They lay this process out on their website, but breaking it down helps to generate a better understanding.

First, it’s your job to gain the interest of international intern candidates. This can be done through job board postings specific to the countries you’re interested in hiring in, generating contact with universities overseas, and engaging your online talent community to drum up interest.

When you’ve chosen your candidates or candidates, prompt these students to contact their country’s CIEE representative, who help them obtain their J-1 Visa and begin the hiring process.

Acting as a mediator, a CIEE representative helps the student prepare the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, also known as Form DS-2019. This document works to identify the student and the sponsor (your company), describes the internship activities and educational training, sets the program start and end dates, and calculates financial support provided to the student.

As the sponsor of an international intern, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate requires you to fill out Form DS-7002, a training/internship placement plan outlining the student’s responsibilities and educational opportunities in the role. This is your opportunity to set the tone for a successful internship by communicating with the student to set mutually beneficial goals, guidelines, and expectations. This portion of the hiring process is where the student will apply for their J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa.

Once all the documents are in the hands of the U.S. Embassy, it can take more than two weeks for the Visa to be granted. This process is lengthy and can take up to eight weeks to complete, but can sometimes run longer. Start early when recruiting and hiring international talent.

As for the fees, the CIEE charges an administration fee on top of the Visa fee. The total cost varies by country, but usually run around $1,000 (and can be as high as $3,000-5,000). Many employers choose to handle these costs when hiring their intern and also take care of airfare and other travel accommodations

If your company is looking for a boost in diversity and a global edge, hiring an international intern may be just what you need. A successful hire takes a lot of advanced planning, but is much easier with the help out an outside agency.

Have you ever hired an international intern? Share your experience below.

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