It’s Possible, but Not Easy for Foreign Nationals to Land Internships in U.S.; Graduate Degree Option

Last week, I met a number of aspiring public relations professionals during my visit to Brazil to speak at “Superminas 2012“, the big food show and conference in Belo Horizonte. Besides being impressed with their ability to speak English in light of my failed attempts to voice a complete sentence in Portuguese, the young Brazilians currently are in college or working in fields that will complement their PR career goals. They are well educated and have a global perspective on Brazil’s role in the world economy. Several indicated interest in work experiences in the United States, and they zeroed in on the following two questions:

Q.  Describe the internship application process and will non-U.S. applicants be considered?

A.   It is possible, but not easy for foreign students to obtain internships in the U.S. It is far more difficult for non-students to gain permission to work in the U.S.  In the latter case, I suggest seeking opportunities at Brazil agencies and corporations that have offices in the U.S.  Depending on the specific nature of client work, you might be able to get a temporary visa that permits you to work in the U.S. Unless a U.S. company has a need for someone with your specific experience, it won’t likely go through the time-consuming process and paperwork necessary to help obtain your temporary visa.  You can get specific details about the process of getting internships and U.S. work visas from

Q.  Is it a good idea to come to the U.S. to get a graduate degree?

A.  Admitting that my role at DePaul University creates a bias in favor of a graduate degree, I confirmed that many foreign students take this route as a way to spend two years in the U.S.  While here, you’ll not likely work in paid internships, but most graduate programs provide unpaid internships as part of the curriculum.  These internships will provide excellent insights into U.S. corporations and agencies.  As an example, DePaul now permits two internships–one required, one optional–for all graduate students.  A graduate degree in public relations/advertising is especially helpful for an individual wishing to make a transition from another, non-related job discipline. It also proves beneficial to the individual who realizes they need additional training in research, measurement and social media. Due to the wide cross section of cohorts, grad school also provides significant networking opportunities.

About Belo Horizonte:  Located in the southeastern region of Brazil, Belo (as locals call it) has a metropolitan area population of more than five million. Built in hills of varying heights and surrounded by mountains, the city’s winding streets are jammed with cars, and construction is evident everywhere as the local economy is booming. Belo will make its debut on the global stage when it hosts World Cup 2012. 




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