How do you find an academic or professional exchange program?
If you are currently a student in your home country, contact the office responsible for international programs at your institution to ask about exchange agreements with U.S. universities. If programs exist, find out how the exchange program operates and whether you can participate. Or, if you are still in the process of applying to study at colleges and universities in your home country and know you would like to spend time studying in the United States at some point during your studies, find out in advance whether those institutions administer any exchange programs with U.S. institutions.
A variety of short-term professional exchange programs in the United States are available. J-1/Professional Exchange Programs include:
Summer Work/Travel: Permits postsecondary students to work in the United States during summer vacations. Maximum program duration is four months.
Camp Counselor: Allows international participants to work at U.S. summer youth camps for up to four months.
Intern: Allows current university students and recent graduates to pursue an internship with a U.S. business or non-profit organization for periods of up to 12 months.
Trainee: Gives eligible participants the opportunity to develop professional skills by interning at a U.S. business or organization for periods as long as 18 months.
Teacher: Allows qualified, experienced teachers to teach full time in accredited U.S. primary or secondary schools for up to three years.
Au Pair: Provides and opportunity for participants ages 18-26 to live with a U.S. family and provide up to 45 hours per week of childcare in the home. The program includes a mandatory educational component for au pairs to study outside the home.
How do you find an internship?
Students who have studied or had a previous exchange experience in the United States often make contacts that will lead to an internship. In addition, U.S. companies working in your country may have interest in hosting interns in the United States. Some sponsors post available internships on their websites, and most give tips on how students can find their own placements. The J-1 Visitor's Exchange Program posts additional information on short-term programs and sponsoring organizations.
With the diverse range of short-term program options, it's important to define your priorities and goals for short-term program experience. Once you define your priorities, compare short-term study programs:
- Application deadlines
- Eligibility and admission requirements
- Accreditation of the program, if applicable
- Availability of and/or assistance finding housing
- Local environment (including geographic location, climate and access to public transportation)
- Other benefits (such as orientation programs and social activities)
Learn about the history of the program:
How long has the program existed?
Who are the typical participants?
What careers or jobs have past participants found after completing the program?