Blog post Brigitte Piip
San Francisco had never been my dream. But when the time came to find an internship, I was completely lost. I had no idea where I wanted to go. I had already come abroad to study in the Netherlands, so I knew how to adapt to a new environment. I was sure that I wanted to go abroad again, but where – I had no clue. So when my good friend suggested Silicon Valley, I didn't think much and just set it as my goal. Even though the school warned us that internship in the States are mostly unpaid, I was bull-headed – I was going to find a good internship in the US.
I started searching for an internship in October already. Somehow I was so lucky that I got accepted to the first, and only, company I applied for. I found Badger Maps from internships.com. I looked them up on Glassdoor and their social media platforms. Their reviews and company image made me instantly want to work with them. It’s a fairly young start-up with their main office in San Francisco Financial District. They’re a B2B business – a routing app that helps salespeople find the most efficient route to their meetings.
I applied for a marketing and PR internship. I sent them my CV and a cover letter. Being a European, I always thought that a resume and CV were the same thing – not exactly – CV has all your work history and skills, whereas resume is tailored just for the company and the position you’re applying for.
I then had 3 interviews with different people within the company. Because of the 9-hour time difference between California and the Netherlands, my first interview with the recruiter was at 8PM Rotterdam time, it went great. Because I like to get any nerve-wrecking experience over as fast as possible, I scheduled my next interview for the same evening at 11PM. That one was with the 2 people that I would be working with – heads of marketing and PR. Last interview, with the CEO, was about a week later. All the interviews were exceptionally casual – I didn’t feel like it being scary interview. It rather felt like a friendly chat. Our company knows that they get the best understanding of their applicants not by asking all the regular interrogation-like questions, but by talking about their personal interests and achievements. It puts the applicants in ease and they get to see if their character fits into the company culture.
I got my acceptance letter in December, now the next step was to apply for a visa. I was terrified of that process. I shouldn’t have been. That was one of the smoothest parts of my whole experience. I found my visa sponsor from J1 Visa website, where they have a list of all current sponsors in every country. I had a Skype-interview with the company and after that I was ready to head to the embassy. I would recommend doing this as soon as possible – I left it to almost last minute – I was to leave the Netherlands a week after the date that had the first available interview appointment.
Before the interview you have to fill out an online form that you later have to take to the embassy along with a pile of other documents. They send you a list of all the documents you must bring so you wouldn’t forget anything. I prepared myself for a huge, movie-like-dramatic, sitting-under-the-spotlight, interrogation. Turned out that there was no scary interrogation room – the interview was with an officer sitting behind a booth and the only questions I was asked were ‘What are you going to do in the US and where are you going?’ I answered that I have an internship in San Francisco and the reply I got was ‘Oh, be sure to wear flowers in your hair then.’ He put a stamp on my documents. I was out of the embassy in 15 minutes and 2 days later I received my passport, with the visa, in my mailbox. To be continued...