Dinesh Kumar Palanivelu is a CU Boulder graduate student studying Network Engineering who has gained internship experience while authorized for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), an off-campus work authorization for students in F-1 status.
This past summer, Dinesh interned with Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he worked on a project to automate network device deployment. He used agile software development lifecycle, CI/CD (a method to frequently deliver apps to customers by introducing automation into the stages of app development), and different coding languages to develop a complete solution. The internship experience helped Dinesh learn and develop AWS networking architecture. Dinesh says, “I used many technologies I learned in my courses like CI/CD and networking process.”
ISSS asked what the process of finding an internship was like for Dinesh. He says focusing on organizations and companies who have a direct link with universities and networking on LinkedIn were good sources of connection and opportunity. “Getting interviews from organizations is easy with referrals and direct links,” noted Dinesh. CU Boulder Career Services is a good resource for students to prepare for the internship application process, understand U.S. work culture, and make connections with potential internship employers.
Dinesh wants to share that he had a complete plan for the project he’d be working on before starting the internship. He encourages others to ask questions like, “Can I complete this project within the internship time frame?” If the answer is no, think about how to proceed. Dinesh suggests “assigning a project to another employee toward the end of the internship.” Dinesh asks: “If an extension of the internship period is needed, what documents are needed to request a CPT extension?” To answer this, students can and should take advantage of ISSS resources, workshops, and advising opportunities to understand the application process and requirements for students seeking CPT authorization.
To help ensure a smooth CPT Request process and internship experience, Dinesh recommends that other students:
- Make sure they get a CPT Offer Letter that meets the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Offer Letter Requirements.
- Speak with their academic advisor or graduate program advisor as soon as possible after getting the offer letter from the internship employer so that they can register for an internship class if eligible for CPT through enrollment in an internship class.
- Make sure they complete the your MyISSS portal to request the I-20 authorizing CPT from ISSS. You need to register for the internship course before you do this step. Plan ahead!
Dinesh reports the whole process took about 2 months for him to complete. He acknowledges that mistakes are sometimes made throughout the process and there needs to be time to rectify those mistakes.
Dinesh shares that based on his experience, “Being ready to learn new technologies and attitudes is equally important to the technical knowledge gained in coursework.”
Students in F-1 status are eligible to apply for CPT authorization after they have completed one academic year of continuous full-time enrollment in active nonimmigrant status. Students must meet one of the following requirements for CPT, which their Academic Advisor or Graduate Program Administrator must sign off on:
- Be enrolled in an internship course for credit that could count towards their degree. (Enrollment in the course must be concurrent with the training. For example, if the internship is in the summer, you must be enrolled in the internship course during the summer) or
- Your degree must require an internship and that requirement is clearly documented in the University Catalog.
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