The two critical steps in securing an assignment are
- Locating the right firm and the right person in the firm who can make the decision to accept you.
- Convincing that person that you have something special to offer so that they will say “Yes,” they want you to welcome you as a member of their staff.
Following is a list of resources and search strategies to identify U.S. firms and some tips on resume writing and how to approach the U.S. firm.
We have prepared these tips to get you started in your search. Keep in mind that the internship or training must be in your field and can last for twelve months if you are an intern and eighteen months maximum as a trainee, after which you must return home. We offer these tips to help you gain the internship/training position that is right for you. The rest is up to you.
Locating U.S. Firms and Contacts
Some questions that will help you get targeted:
- What kind of company will help you gain the right American perspective in your field?
- Do you want to work at a small or large company? (Note: If the firm is new to the program and small (under 25 employees or under $3 million annual revenue, ASF must conduct a site visit.)
- hat kind of position is the right one for your practical experience?
- Where in the U.S do you want to train (state, city or region)?
Keeping the answers to these questions in mind, you will be able to use the resources suggested below to identify companies and individuals to contact.
Tip: It is best to start high up on the ladder when you are ready to contact the firm. The best way to do it is to address your request to the head of the company and/or to the person in charge of the department where you hope to train. Remember to get these names when you are researching companies.
The internet is a very useful resource for locating an assignment. You can access a huge amount of information on the web about companies, industries as well as resume writing and interview advice.
Most companies have their own sites. Some trade associations list all member addresses on their web site.
You should begin your search by asking everyone you know if they can suggest firms for you to contact in the U.S. to ask for a training position. Don’t be shy about it. This is called networking and it is a very common practice in the U.S. The larger your network, the better your chance of locating the right position.
Your network of potentially helpful contacts would obviously include family, friends, and current or past employers, but should also include professors and teachers, former host families in the U.S. if you were ever an exchange student, American business contacts, people you meet at professional conferences and international trade shows, alumni from your school, etc. Does your city have a sister city relationship with a U.S. city? That, too, is a possible area for networking.
Chambers of Commerce:
Another option is visiting the web sites of local chambers of commerce for a list of member businesses in their area.
All this information is available on the net.
List of Previous Host Firms:
Creating a Professional Looking Resume and Cover Letter
Now that you have found companies that you are interested in contacting for a training position,
it is time to prepare and send resumes and cover letters that will get their attention.
Your Resume (C.V.)
Your resume should show that you are special and “sell” the benefits that you can offer the trainer. Be positive and present yourself in the best possible way.
Try to fit your resume on one page; this is preferred.
Important sections of the resume:
- Objective (optional, but recommended) – Write one sentence stating what position you seek and what you can offer as a trainee.
- Experience – List positions held and the related responsibilities, achievements and successes. Make sure the information relates to the target position or company.
- Education – List type of degree, i.e. Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineer, etc. and name of school. Do not use abbreviations if there is any chance that they might not be understood by the reader. Only include more specific course information if it supports your objective and is relevant to the target position or company. List any other special courses, workshops etc. only if they are also relevant.
- Skills & Other Qualifications – Language skills, computer language and software skills, honors, awards, public recognition, extra curricular activities. Include anything that is relevant to the position you seek.
The Cover Letter
The cover letter has to be tailored to the specific position or company and be appropriate to the situation. The cover letter should always be addressed to a person (as mentioned earlier, it is a good idea to address the president or head of the department in which you want to train). Never send your resume with just a title or company name.
A standard cover letter format consists of three paragraphs:
State the objective, benefits you can provide, and the source of your lead.
Indicate why you are interested in the position, how you are qualified for it, and why the company interests you.
Request a specific form of response, and thank the reader for his/her consideration.
In certain creative fields you may get further if your resume is in a non-standard format which will get the recipient’s attention while showing off your particular talents. You can also send samples or pictures of your work (but not so many that you overwhelm your potential trainer and not any that you will miss.) Photographs of the applicant are not usually included on a U.S. resume, but can sometimes be used to your advantage – perhaps showing you at work. Use your imagination while keeping the guidelines in mind.
If you are a student with little or no work experience, you should put your education at the top of your resume, after the objective, and stress your relevant coursework and projects. Your objective may state that the training position is sought to enhance your education.
In most cases it would be to your benefit to mention, in your resume and/or cover letter, any other experiences you have had abroad – working, living, or going to school – this shows you can readily adjust to other cultures.
REMINDER: Before you send your resume and cover letter, be sure to check your spelling and grammar.
You may not have the advantage of interviewing in person, but you can follow up and arrange for an interview by web cam or phone. Many firms are impressed by the motivation and confidence of trainees who have pursued their dream of training in the U.S. by writing and calling them from Scandinavia. Always call within ten working days to make sure your application was received and to request a time when you can call to discuss your letter and resume.
Unless you happen to be traveling in the U.S. and can arrange for a personal interview, you should request a phone interview, or if the company has a Scandinavian subsidiary you could ask for an interview with a local representative. It may also be possible to interview by e-mail. If you are granted an interview, be sure to send a thank you letter to everyone you met or spoke with and reiterate your interest in the position.
Suggestions and Success stories
ASF offers these suggestions, in the hope that you can use some or all of these ideas to develop a training assignment in the U.S. that is right for you. Please send any suggestions and success stories – so that we might include your ideas in the next version of this page.
We wish you success in your search for the right position and we hope that we will be welcoming you to the U.S. soon as a participant in the Exchange Visitor Program for training or internship.