Why International Students Shouldn’t Give Up on Interning in New York City

Hi there. My name is Hoa [Hwaa] Do[doe]. I am an international student from Ha Noi, Vietnam, but I have lived in the Czech Republic for eight years and I studied in Seattle, WA for three years. Currently, I am living in NYC and interning at NBCUniversal and Human Rights Watch. Like many international students I thought getting an internship in the United States would be incredibly difficult. However, I hope that after hearing my story you will be more motivated to apply for your dream internship.

My First Time in the U.S.

I started at Seattle Central Community College (SCCC) in the Fall of 2008. At SCCC we had a large number of international students, so I didn’t feel that lonely and I had a lot of international friends.

My dance club at SCCC.


I then transferred to Seattle University as a Strategic Communications major with a minor in International Studies. Due to a financial situation, I had to overload classes every quarter and work part-time. It was a real challenge for me. Time at Seattle University passed by so fast that I didn’t realize I was five credits away from Graduation until I saw my classmates were applying for internships and jobs.

My First Internship

At first, I had difficulties finding an internship because I missed all of the deadlines for the major organizations. However, I didn’t give up. I designed an internship search plan with specific deadlines and goals for myself. I signed up for email notification for specific positions that I was interested in online with sites such as: indeed.com and simplehired.com. I also actively visited my school’s career center to ask for interview and networking advice. After two months of searching and applying, I got an offer from PBS in Seattle, KCTS9.

Moving To New York

I moved to New York City in June 2011 because I wanted to challenge myself and to find more internships that would look good on my resume. My first internship in New York was for an environmental non-profit organization called The Human Impacts Institute based in Brooklyn. Before I started at The Human Impacts Institute, I was concerned with my limited knowledge of the environment. Being in New York has taught me one very important lesson: the best way to learn something is by actually doing it. I took on every task with an open mind and enthusiastic attitude. As of September 2011, I am interning for both NBCUniversal and the Human Rights Watch. Lucky me! I got accepted into these two very amazing organizations that fit my major and minor perfectly.

What I Have Learned So Far

It is not easy for creative majors to find the right fit for their first or even second internship. I am a true believer that you can learn from every opportunity and you can make the best out of it if you are determined. It was a matter of being organized, focused, self-disciplined and believing in yourself.

So through this blog post I wanted to share my story. As you can see, there are many challenges in speaking English as my third language and being a foreigner in the American culture. However, I think its up to you to create your home away from home no matter where you are.

As for me now, living in NY, I am so happy to have a group of friends and professional colleagues at NY Creative Interns, who help me when I go through my emotional home-sick days (like I want nothing but Pho for the whole week) and who support me on my career path.


Laurel Touby, founder of Mediabistro, and I at NY Creative Interns Event:
Start Something: Why Every Creative Needs To Be An Entrepreneur

Good luck to all of you with your internship and job search. If you are an international student or you are an American student who will be studying abroad soon, please keep in touch and share your stories. You can email me at hoa@hoado.net, follow me on twitter, or visit my personal website.



PS: Get your job search on and come to Land an Internship or Job Using Social Media on Monday Oct. 17th. Register here.


About the Author

Hoa is a recent Strategic Communications grad from Seattle University. Coming from Vietnam, Hoa lived in the Czech Republic for 8 years. Hoa is passionate about advertising and broadcasting industry. Follow Hoa on twitter @Hoaska.

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