Expectations and the First Day
Have high expectations, and plan to succeed
A professional internship is a two-way relationship. Your host organization expects the same things from you as it does from anyone on its team – tasks done to the best of your ability, respect for colleagues, and adherence to workplace policies. At the same time, you should be satisfied that you’re receiving the level of professional development you were promised.
It’s very important to maintain good communication with your supervisor and colleagues. If you simply ask, your supervisor will be happy to let you know what goals you should be striving for. Not only that, he or she will appreciate your willingness to communicate about your program.
Before the program begins
You and your host organization should share expectations, recognizing that in some situations these expectations might be different. Share your thoughts, be flexible, and refer back to the DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan, which is the blueprint everyone should be following.
Expect more paperwork on the first day
The first day at your internship will include the completion of paperwork and an orientation. If anything seems confusing, feel free to ask questions.
On your first day, you should bring the following documents:
- Passport and J-1 Visa
- DS-2019 form
- DS-7002 Training/Internship Placement Plan
- Receipt showing that you have applied for a Social Security number, if you’ve already applied. (Note that it’s legal to begin training and get paid before the number is issued, provided an application has been submitted. Please call CIEE at 1-888-268-6245 if you have questions.)
In addition, you’ll need to complete these government forms:
- I-9 form: This confirms eligibility. The form asks for a Social Security number; your host organization can fill that in later, once the number is issued.
- Federal W-4 form: For paid positions, your host organization will automatically deduct money for federal taxes from your paycheck. This form tells the host organization how much to deduct, so that you won’t underpay or overpay (It’s important to recognize that since interns are non-resident aliens, the standard instructions on the form do not apply). Learn about filling out the W-4 form below.
How to fill out the federal W-4 form
- The Personal Allowances Worksheet at the top of the W-4 is for U.S. residents only. You don’t need to use it.
- Check only “Single” marital status on line 3, regardless of your actual marital status.
- Claim only one withholding allowance (enter “1” on line 5).
- Write “Nonresident Alien” or “NRA” above the dotted line on line 6.
- J-1 visitors cannot claim “Exempt” withholding status on line 7.
- State W-4 form: Most U.S. states require tax to be deducted from paychecks. The state tax form looks different from the federal form, but it asks for the same information and should be filled out the same way. If you have questions about the state W-4, check with your supervisor or the human resources contact at your host organization.