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As an international student applying for internships abroad, how can I improve my chances at getting an interview?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Lilienthal, gnat, Dawny33, Jim G., David K Dec 18 '15 at 13:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    The resume is formatted very good for reading by human, but for automated systems it can be too fancy. Maybe you should not upload it as pdf. Use Word document, standard fonts, one column for the information, bullets instead of tables – vladiz Dec 18 '15 at 8:28
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    you are being victim of the most stupid invention of the world : a robot who evaluate programmer skills by parsing their resume. Make everything to have a real human you can send your resume to. – UmNyobe Dec 18 '15 at 8:36
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    This question can only answered by the companies (or automated systems) that are rejecting you and the Workplace isn't a resume review service. Most likely you should be applying to internship offers that allow international candidates rather than submitting a resume out of the blue. There are also several problems with your resume, have a look on this site or on the web for do's and don'ts. Bad Things that I immediately notice: overdesigned, too long, includes a picture (virtually always an automatic rejection in the US), listing an unexceptional percentage, no graduation date, ... – Lilienthal Dec 18 '15 at 8:46
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    @yask, I don't mean to be harsh, I just don't want you to set yourself up for disappointment. Don't expect that once you follow the advice from the answers and fix your resume, getting an internship will become easy. Not that you shoud give up, I encourage you to keep searching. Just don't bet your life on this, if you get a decent offer at a local company, go for it. – Dmitry Grigoryev Dec 18 '15 at 11:26
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    Are you eligible to work as a technical intern in a California company at all? From the CV it seems that you are not a citizen or resident of USA, it would be illegal to do this internship on a tourist visa, and the major work-visa types including H1B would not be available for internship positions. It doesn't make sense to interview or evaluate you if they can't hire you anyway. – Peteris Dec 18 '15 at 12:13
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Only the companies you applied to could tell you why you were not selected to go further in the process.

However, to improve your odds of being selected there are a few things you can do:

  1. Your resume is too long and not standard. As a student you should have a single page resume. It should focus on important skills, accomplishments and facts about you. Most companies/recruiters won't look past the first page anyway. Resume tips:

Tip #1: Do not put a picture of yourself on a resume unless your looks matter to getting the job.

Tip #2: Do not self-assess your skills. Communicate your skills by listing them and mentioning them when describing projects/experience. Beyond that an interview will allow the company to assess the skills. What if you discovered that you rated yourself worse than they would have?

Tip #3: Black and white. An "attention grabbing resume" can land you a job, but the odds are you will look too risky or never even be seen under normal circumstances. Any kind of automation may fail trying to decipher your creativity - and why would anyone go through the list of failed resumes looking for a "diamond in the rough" when they have a nice stack of resumes that didn't fail? And why try to figure out your resume when it's easy to read someone else's standard resume?

Tip #4: When listing experience, say what you did (an action) and the result (accomplishment). When you are on the job, your actions and results are what matter, so demonstrate your awareness on your resume.

Tip #5: Adapt your resume for the particular job for which you are applying. A generic resume is usually a weak resume. Each job and company is different. You should modify your resume to emphasize the skills that are appropriate for the particular job you are seeking, and remove everything else until it's 1 page.

There are lots of resources on how to write resumes. I'm not sure what resource you used to produce your resume, but I don't think the format and style you used are commonly accepted as successful.

  1. If you only apply to companies with a lot of competition then your odds of success are low in general. If these companies get 100 resumes for each position, then expect to send out 100 resumes at least. Regardless of whether you are a top candidate, expect that all applicants are as equally qualified as you. The website you reference doesn't indicate the supply/demand for the internships, but given the area nearly all of them are going to have a lot of candidates.

  2. As a student from India, if you want to work in the US, the odds are slim with most companies. Not that they don't want to recruit from abroad or that they don't, but it's much easier and less risky to select candidates that already are in the country in which they need employees, or to select experienced candidates.

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    +1 for the single page. I ended up with 2 resumes : One 1-pager to get attention, and one full with all details. That is after years of experience & consulting. The single page as a first contact still is very efficient(but always have the "true" one in your bag). – gazzz0x2z Dec 18 '15 at 9:21
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    Regarding the tips, anyone whose only listed development experience is < 1 year and puts "advanced" in multiple programming technologies is... probably going to be less than convincing and immediately cause concern for someone reviewing the resume. – enderland Dec 18 '15 at 12:57
  • @enderland Agreed, its relative, I'll get rid of those. But..I have been doing java since 9th grade from my school days, and had semester courses on "Advanced Java, C++ and C" in college. That's all I wanted to convey. Also, i may not have internship experience to show that, but I have been doing multiple self taken projects: iyask.me/#projects , and contributing to open source softwares. – yask Dec 18 '15 at 19:50
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    @enderland One of my self taken trended at #1 spot on HackerNews for more than a day and recieved over 900 stars on Github. github.com/yask123/Instant-Music-Downloader – yask Dec 18 '15 at 20:29
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    @Eric , regardless of the no. of lines of projects, I still think its cool to have a self taken project trended at #1 on HN and received tons of Pull Requests. It felt great that so many people were/ are using it. – yask Dec 19 '15 at 3:12
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At a quick look, I saw two issues.

One, that you mention, is work authorization. You are applying for jobs in California giving a non-US location with no indication that you are authorized to work in the US. That means additional work for HR compared to other applicants. Why California, rather than India, for an internship? Have you tried e.g. through your school, to identify companies that do hire interns internationally?

Another issue is resume format - this may affect applications even in India. I don't know how smart the automated resume processing programs are now, but will they be able to easily determine your skills etc? It may be better to try a simpler, more linear, more text-orientated format.

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It doesn't look like you have a degree. There will be many candidates applying for these high profile .coms that do have one so you will be immediately ruled out if that is not immediately clear. Also are the percentages grades or % complete?

The best way to get a job is through networking to make industry contacts and get a recommendation, try and speak to people through conferences, webinars, programs like summer of code. Also you may need to target less well known companies where the competition isn't so large.

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There is a single reason:

You weren't able to make it through their automated gauging system. The interviews, etc would start after that.

So, there is a very high probability that the company/recruiter has not even seen your resume.

  • The reason why I couldn't make it through their automated gauging system ? – yask Dec 18 '15 at 7:59
  • There'd be several custom-defined parameters by the companies. For example, your CGPA, intern exp. (yes/no), etc. This might be helpful :) – Dawny33 Dec 18 '15 at 8:02
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It seems I can't see what the exactly the process is for applying through this website without registering, which I won't do. So I can't say if they ask for a cover letter. Often the CV has to be accompanied by a cover letter explaining why you're interested in working the job in question for this company. If the cover letter is too generic, or has obvious grammatical or spelling errors, the CV goes directly into the trash.

The CV looks pretty, but for a student I would expect a much more complete entry in "education", to get an idea of how old you are and if you skipped some years. There should be a standard form of the title you earn on graduation, and the expected date of graduation. "Education" should not be split into 2 parts on 2 pages. Additionally, the dates are some of the most important information, but they are somewhat hard to find - To make them easier to find for human and other readers, consider putting them on the same line as the event they belong to.

Being a foreign student from the other side of the world with presumably unknown work status also puts you at a severe disadvantage, because if you were to make it to later rounds, flying you in for a face to face interview is going to be expensive. And you also need a permit, so you will be held to higher standards. To make things worse, Indian CVs are very well known to often be hugely exaggerated, so even if yours is not, you will suffer by the actions of your peers.

As always, the best chance to land a hard to get job is through personal contacts, not some website. The world is smaller than you think. Maybe a professor at your university knows a guy who knows a guy? Or one of the code reviewers of the open source projects you worked on is a PM at Mozilla?

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