The Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program (BSMP) provides scholarships to undergraduate students from Brazil to study at colleges and universities in the United States. After completion of one academic year, as defined by J-1 exchange visitor regulations, students are allowed to look for opportunities to gain practical experience in respective major fields of study. Depending on your type of visa, you may also be able to intern during your time in the US.
Internships can be voluntary work or paid positions. But financial support is not the only benefit this experience can provide you:
- Searching for a position will test your perseverance, as it may take a few weeks (or months) before you receive a job offer.
- It will challenge you to face the real working world.
- It will force you to be organized and accomplish tasks.
- It will teach you important job-search skills.
- It will help you choose a major and inspire your career choice.
- It may open doors for graduate school.
How do you get started?
Put some thought into your search: what is the main area you are interested in? Would you rather work in a university lab or a private company? Think about your goals!
Plan in advance:
This is not supposed to be a last minute decision. Usually the best positions start being offered in late October, from the year before. By that time, you should have your resume and cover letters prepared.
Make connections in your classroom and outside of it!
Your professor is the first person that can offer you an opportunity or, at least, guide you to someone who might be interested in your work. When you have a letter of recommendation, the process is even easier.
- Show them your interest.
- Ask if they work in your area of interest or if they know someone who does.
- Study a lot so you can have good grades and, perhaps, receive an outstanding recommendation letter.
- Find out if family and friends know someone in a field that interests you.
- If there's a specific company or organization you'd like to work for, don't be afraid to contact someone there.
Google is your best friend! You are one click away from finding the internship of your dreams! The internet is a powerful tool to read about the places you're interviewing for, such as the staff and the projects they are working on. Get to know the opportunities very well so you can personalize your letters and show genuine interest.
Read the eligibility criteria!!
If you are planning to apply to summer programs you must read their policies and the eligibility criteria. Check if your place of interest accepts International Students, and specifically, your visa type. As far as I know, there are some differences between J-1 and F-1 visa that, eventually, make some students ineligible to participate in internships/work. It will save you some time if you check these regulations. Consult your MET International advisor!
Prepare yourself to send a lot of emails… and to receive no answer.
Cyberspace is a black hole. I know people that sent over 100 emails, and got only 3 responses. But the good thing is you only need ONE good response. So prepare yourself to send a lot of emails and to encounter a lot of closed doors. It’s just part of the game!
Be prepared for the interview:
If a company calls you for an interview, try to research a little deeper about their company, and show them the ways in which you can contribute or which skills you intend to acquire.
Over the spring I have worked as an intern at Boston Medical Center, in the Renal Pathology Department. I can’t put in words how much I have learned with this team! My mentor used to be my professor in one of the courses I took last fall and offered me the opportunity.
Next summer I will be part of the SUPERS@Program, a ten week summer research program hosted by the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (PSOM). I am really proud of myself and anxious for this opportunity!
Good luck everyone!