Moving to a new place for an internship can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a student’s life, but it comes with challenges. As the excitement fades and reality sets in, there are tons of questions that race through your mind: Where will I live for such a short period of time? Will I need visas and travel documents? How will I meet new people and network when I get there?
If you don’t figure out the answers to these questions, you could face some challenges once you arrive at your internship location. We’re counting down the top three mistakes we see students make when moving for an internship and offering some tried and true tips for moving as a student.
Mistake #1: Missing out on great housing options
Housing is probably the most challenging issue to tackle after accepting a short-term internship. Depending on where you are moving, you might have limited short-term rental options. But just because you have fewer choices than someone seeking a full-year lease doesn’t mean you have to end up somewhere unsafe or far from work.
Here are a few ways to find housing for your internship:
- Talk to your sponsor organizations, such as your school and your prospective employer. Many workplaces and educational institutions are familiar with the cities to which they send students, and may have recommendations for short-term housing options.
- Use online portals like PadPiper to find hosts and landlords advertising short-term housing. PadPiper is a website specifically designed for students looking for short-term rentals. They have verified listings in many major American and Canadian cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, Houston, and San Francisco. This website is a great place to start your search.
- Ask locals. Posting online ads, asking for leads on Reddit and other forums, posting on social media groups or reaching out to former interns through LinkedIn can be helpful steps.
Once you find a potential place to live, make sure you find out as much as possible about it before moving in. To start, you can jump on a video call with your potential roommates or the current occupants. To get a sense of space and cleanliness, ask them or your landlord for detailed images or a “tour” via video call of the location. The more information you can get about your new home and neighbourhood, the better equipped you will be!
Mistake #2: Getting stranded after not planning transportation to work
So you’ve found a place to live! Awesome. But how are you going to get to work from that location? Do you have a car or a bike? Are there public transit options?
Make sure you research not one, but two or more transportation options when you move for a new job. When I moved to the United States for my internship, I lived just a mile from my office and could walk or take the subway. Colleagues who lived further away had the option of biking, bussing, or carpooling to work. There are lots of ways to get around most major cities, but don’t leave it up to chance.
It’s also a good idea to do a “trial run” to get to know your route to work before your first day. If you move to the city a few days before your internship starts, take some time to get to know walking paths, public transit routes, and expected traffic in your area. You don’t want to be late on your first day!
Mistake #3: Staying at home on evenings and weekends without exploring the new city
Your new internship isn’t the only place you can learn and grow. Exploring a new city allows you to have new experiences — meeting new people, trying new foods, and visiting exciting landmarks and locations. It’s a chance to see how people live, what they do on the weekends, and learn more about the lifestyle you prefer as you decide where to build your career. Exploring your new city is a must.
For example, if you attend the University of Waterloo and move to San Francisco, you’ll want to take advantage of the thriving tech scene, startup events, and beautiful scenery. I interned in Washington D.C., so I spent weekends volunteering at museums and attending free symposiums. Use travel websites like TripAdvisor, student forums from nearby schools, and forums like Reddit to research the city you’re moving to and find out how you can make the most of your time there.
Plan ahead for a stress-free move
Remember, every city and country has its own set of laws, costs, housing prospects, and opportunities that a student should consider. While avoiding these three mistakes with proper preparation is vital, the way you should go about it might vary from place to place.
For those interning in the United States, this Guide to Internships in the U.S. helps answer your questions about things like cell phone plans, visas, and bank accounts. For advice on living in other countries, don’t be afraid to reach out to your school, employer, or people on online forums like Quora.
Preparation is key for anyone who wants to make the most of their internship. Doing your due diligence to set up housing, transportation, and activities will ensure you spend less time scrambling and more time enjoying your new city!
PadPiper for StuDocu