International Student Services

Division of Student Services

ISS Summer Guide

International Student Services has prepared this guide to assist students in finding internships and volunteer opportunities during the summer. If there are any broken links or if you have any opportunties to share, please feel free to send us an email.

List of Internships

Introduction

All the internships on this list accept international students. Seniors and graduating students are not eligible in most cases and should contact the Center for Life Beyond Reed for resources.

Students should know that most programs funded by the U.S. government are not open to international students. This includes all programs at NASA and most REUs, which are funded by the National Science Foundation. There are a few exceptions when it comes to REUs because some institutes will offer private funding or accept students and not pay them. There are, however, a number of programs funded by the U.S. Department of Energy that international students can apply for.

This list is not comprehensive. It deliberately excludes opportunities that require education in subjects not offered at Reed, like those in engineering or nursing. Business opportunities are included due to demand. Students should be warned, however, that companies often look for students who actually study business; they expect you to know how to use accounting and finance software. Furthermore, these internships are listed as corporate profiles as companies do not hire every year.

There are also many opportunities that are sporadic; companies hire people as they are needed. You should keep your ears open for these opportunities as they come along. The Career Services office continuously provides updates on these opportunities, and you should contact them for more information.

Many of the research opportunities that you find will be volunteer positions, in which case you may need funding of your own or from Reed. International students working on campus or volunteering (working without pay) do not need to register for OPT. Those who receive pay off campus, however, do. Freshmen should note that you can apply for OPT after staying in the US for one year or more. As a result, freshmen must find work on campus or volunteer off campus during their first year.

Hopefully you will find this guide useful in your search. If you have stories or internships that you would like share, please feel free to contact ISS at iss@reed.edu.

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What if I need funding?

Typically internships will come with pay or a small grant. But, of course, there are those that do not. For unpaid students, Reed provides funding. The Summer Experience Award provides funding to about four international students every year. There is also the Vollum Fund, the President’s Summer Fellowship, and many others. For more information on grants, go to http://www.reed.edu/academic/studentgrants. If you are working with a professor on campus, then he/she may have department funds to hire you for work. Also, there are many on-campus jobs that need to be filled during the summer through which you can support yourself. Remember to check on IRIS for on-campus employment listings, or visit offices directly as some do not use IRIS.

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Setting a Budget

You will find a budget for the summer helpful should you decide to stay in the U.S. The following is a method to project your living costs for three months. This method could also be used for the Summer Experience Award proposal. The budget should be focused around food, housing, and transportation. Additional costs such as phone bills or internet fees should be included, but not for the SEA proposal.

  1. Estimate how much money you will need for food. Try visiting www.bundle.com and look up the cost of living.
  2. Check rent postings for an idea as to how much you would have to pay for housing. Finding roommates will help reduce the cost.
  3. Think about transportation. Do you need to take a plane? Will you use public transportation or your car?
  4. Consider miscellaneous costs like utilities, etc.

Reed provides summer housing for returning students. Renting a place on Reed will cost about $400 a month, but note that Residence Life changes the rent every year. Commons will be open for lunch only, and you may not use board points. You can refer to the example below for living in Portland. Remember to account for air travel fees if you are traveling elsewhere.

Items Expected Expenses
Food $13 per day for 90 days = $1170
Housing $400 per month for 3 months = $1200
Travel $100 monthly bus passes for 3 months = $300
Total $2670

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OPT

Optional Practical Training, or OPT, is a program that authorizes international students to find employment in the U.S. without a work visa. On-campus employment does not require OPT registration. If you are working on or off campus without pay, then you do not need to apply for OPT. 

International students are provided with 12 months of OPT. Students can use this time during their studies or after graduating. You can work only part-time during the semester and must be employed in a field related to your studies. If you are majoring in the sciences or mathematics, you can get a 17 month extension if you are employed after graduating.

Remember that applications for OPT can take up to three months to process, so you need to apply early, preferably in February or early March. To apply for OPT, contact ISS.

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Summer Research at Reed

Professors teaching the sciences, mathematics, and psychology often hire students over the summer to conduct research. These are not “official” programs, and you need to ask a professor you are interested in working with personally. Ideally, you should be familiar with the professor’s research interests and have worked with the professor during the semester as an assistant. Departments will hire lab assistants during the semester, and these are great opportunities for you to get recognized. Even if you don’t know the professor personally, don’t be afraid to show your interest in working with them.

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When to Start Searching

The optimum time to look for internships is before winter break. Many internships have their application deadlines on January 1st or at the end of it, so ask your professors for recommendations before you leave for break. But you should search for programs during winter break as well. Typically, you want to apply for several internships. Other popular deadlines are February 1st and March 1st, but there are very few internships with the latter deadline.

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Where to Start Searching

This guide is a good start, but there are other resources you could refer to. Try visiting the employment listings on academic societies of the fields you are interested in, like the American Chemical Society or the American Physical Society. You could also ask the people you know, like your professors, and subscribe to BCOP. For more information on networking and BCOP, head over to http://www.reed.edu/career/students/How_To.html. You might find the following websites very helpful for finding internships at certain locations.

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How to Get Recommendations

Most internships will ask for two letters of recommendation. You should get them from professors with whom you have taken classes, and they should teach in fields related to the internship. You should have visited these professors frequently during office hours or have actively participated in their classes.

You may ask your academic advisors as well since they have access to your academic records. But make sure that you get to know them well personally. Try visiting them more than once a semester, but don’t become a nuisance by visiting too frequently. Some industrial employers do not require that letters come from professors, in which case you could ask former employers for one.

Remember to thank recommenders for their help. Even if you don’t get a single internship, send a brief letter of thanks.

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How to Write the Application

Career Services has an excellent guide on how to write resumes and statements of interest. You can find it at http://www.reed.edu/career/students/How_To.html . You should also contact them directly if you need help.

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