International students on F-1 visas are prohibited from working in the U.S. without permission. However, limited opportunities exist for on-the-job training during and after certificate programs.
- Most internships that occur during a certificate program are unpaid.
- Not all programs offer them; you will need to check with your program advisor.
- You do not have to complete 9 months in your program before taking an unpaid internship.
- If unpaid internships are available in your program, you must have the internship approved by your program advisor.
- You do not need International Student Office (ISO) approval for an unpaid internship.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT—paid internships)
- These paid internships occur during a certificate program.
- Not all programs offer them; check with your program advisor.
- These internships must be approved first by your program advisor.
- If your program advisor approves CPT, you also must report to the ISO for approval.
Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT—paid employment)
- You must first complete a program of 9 months or longer.
- You must work with the ISO to apply for OPT and pay a fee.
- If your application for OPT is approved, you are eligible for one year of paid employment in the professional area that you have studied in your certificate program.
Tips for Finding Internships and Post-Completion Jobs
- Establish an excellent record with your advisor and instructors for good references and recommendations.
- Consult with the academic advisor for your program and find out where other students have found internships.
- Network with classmates. Some will be working professionals who may provide references, recommendations, and referrals.
- Check if your program offers internships or has a list of organizations that accept interns. Find out if you are eligible to apply.
- Seek out internships in other, unlisted organizations and check if you can obtain approval.
- For post-completion and off-campus jobs, network with program participants, instructors, and your program advisor.