Gearing up to spend part of your year interning in the U.S. with a J-1 visa from Canada? We’re betting you’ve got questions. Good news: we’ve got answers.

Below, you’ll find an in-depth guide full of practical advice, covering everything from the intricacies of applying for a J-1 visa in Canada to tips on how to make the most out of your experience in the United States.

man sitting on concrete brick with opened laptop on his lap
Image source:

Looking for Internships

Before you can travel to the U.S. as a J-1 visa Canada participant, you have to get hired. But don’t worry–there are many resources to get you started.

How to get an internship depends on the type of position you are seeking out. However, job boards are generally a great place to begin your search. You can get started at our internship database.

We work with many amazing customers that could be a great host company match for you. A few include:

  • Equilar
  • Omnium
  • memSQL
  • Ripple
  • Robinhood
  • Tatari
  • University of Toronto
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Waterloo

Leveraging your network is another great way to find opportunities. Consider connecting with a friend or acquaintance who previously completed a J-1 visa Canada program. They may be able to put you in contact with a company that is hiring. 

If you are attending university, use your school’s alumni network to your advantage. On LinkedIn, you can search for alumni from your school and filter through them by location. If you see an alumnus working somewhere in the U.S. that you’d like to go, send them a message. 

Whether or not someone can connect you with an opportunity, they are still likely to provide you with helpful insight.

Your school’s career office is also a great place to go for support. In all likelihood, the staff in this office have extensive experience placing students at internships in the U.S. They can share this expertise with you. They can also help you by looking over resumes and cover letters, and by doing mock interviews.

For example, the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Career Action can help you with everything from career planning to grad school prep to co-op support. Similarly, the University of British Columbia is home to the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers. This office can also connect you with many resources to find your next opportunity.

Selecting a J-1 Internship

J-1 internships are not restricted to any one field. You can choose a host company in any industry. 

For example, search internships on our database, and you’ll find:

  • A 12-month pastry program at a desert resort in Palm Springs, California
  • An accounting/human resources Training program in L.A.
  • A business development training program in New Hyde Park, New York
  • A food and beverage internship program at a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • A financial technology internship at Robinhood, located in California 

As you decide which positions to apply for, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What industry do I need experience in to meet my future career goals?
  • Do I prefer working within small, collaborative teams or larger, hierarchical structures?
  • Where in the U.S. do I want to live as an exchange visitor?
  • Does this company sponsor exchange visitors?

While interning at a well-known company may look good on your resume, there will likely be more opportunities to take on extra responsibilities and learn from team members at a smaller organization. Keep both realities in mind, and spend some time considering what environments you would be most likely to thrive in. 

Your internship will be most rewarding if it’s a good match for you.

“I would recommend this program because of the variety of opportunities and experiences it opens you up to for your field. As an aspiring software engineer, there is no place better than Silicon Valley for learning about the job and the industry. It's awesome to have the opportunity to try this out for a few months with the support of a program like the Intrax internship program.” -Global Internships J-1 Intern

For more information about securing a J-1 internship, check out these articles:


woman in gray knit sweater using Surface computer
Image source:

J-1 Visa Canada: Application & Documents

Receiving a J-1 visa is just as important as finding an internship. You won’t be able to live and work in the U.S. without one.

Before you start the process, remember that bureaucracy can be hard to navigate even at the best of times. You are likely to face some bumps in the road and minor inconveniences. However, at Global Internships, we have the expertise to help you navigate this with ease.

The main steps you need to complete to secure a J-1 visa include:

  • Finding a visa sponsor
  • Filling out the DS-2019 online application
  • Submitting required documents to your sponsor
  • Paying program fees
  • Receiving internship placement verification
  • Attending pre-departure orientation
  • Receiving your DS-2019
  • Completing your local embassy or consulate interview (if you are not a Canadian citizen)
  • Receiving your J-1 visa!

First things first: what is a J-1 visa sponsor?

Sponsors are a required component of the Exchange Visitor Program. Essentially, they are government-approved entities that screen prospective exchange visitors to ensure they’re prepared for a program in the United States. Sponsors also aid applicants in the application process and issue them the DS-2019 (the Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange).

“While the visa process seems daunting, Intrax made it easy to acquire a visa and work temporarily in the US. There were only a few hurdles, all of which were solved with prompt responses.” -Global Internships J-1 Intern

The DS-2019 and DS-7002

The application to receive a DS-2019 requires you to fill in basic information about your placement. To speed up the process, have the following information handy:

  • The start and end date of your program
  • Your exchange visitor category (example: intern, trainee)
  • The industry or field you will be working in
  • The total estimated financial support you will provide during your program 

Along with this application, sponsors will ask for additional documentation. They need this information before they can issue the DS-2019. 

One of these necessary documents is called form DS-7002. This is the Training/Internship Placement Plan. To fill it out, you’ll need:

  • Your information (including field of study and expected graduation date)
  • Site of activity information (including your projected hours, plus the company’s workers’ compensation policy, number of full-time employees, and annual revenue)
  • Information on what your responsibilities will be in this role
  • Information on how managers will supervise you

Other documents you should submit to your sponsor include:

  • English proficiency test results (you can use TOEFL or any other credible evaluator)
  • Diploma or proof of enrollment
  • Resume or CV
  • A copy of your passport’s biographical page 

At this point, you will also need to pay your sponsor program fees that cover application, administrative, and pre-departure services. Pricing will depend on your sponsor and destination. J-1 visa applicants from Canada can expect to pay between $1,200 and $2,700 USD. 

If you plan to work with us as your sponsor, you can check our pricing calculator for a more exact estimate.

Note that the money you pay to your sponsor does not cover the $160 USD visa fee, nor airfare and living expenses.

For further reading on proper documentation and the J-1 visa application process, check out these articles:

two women sitting on chair
Image source:

Before the J-1 Visa Interview 

If you are not a Canadian citizen, you will need to complete a J-1 visa interview. Schedule this as soon as you’ve received confirmation from Intrax that your form DS-2019 has shipped. 

While you wait to receive your DS-2019 (and–in some cases–to complete your interview), your sponsor will verify your co-op placement. Let your host company know to expect a call. They will need to confirm that you were accepted to their internship program.

After your host company confirms your placement, it’s time for pre-departure orientation. At Global Internships, we share information ranging from entering the country, to adjusting to the culture, to health & safety resources.

Acing the J-1 Visa Interview

If you are required to complete a J-1 visa interview, we’ve got you covered with advice.

Your interview will take place at your local embassy or consulate. There are several U.S. Embassy and Consulate offices in Canada. You can find the one nearest to you here. 

You need to bring a few items to the interview. These include:

  • Your passport
  • The confirmation page of the DS-160 (the nonimmigrant visa application)
  • $160 dollars to pay for your visa (or a payment receipt)
  • The photo you submitted with your DS-160 (this is precautionary)
  • Your DS-2019 
  • Your DS-7002 

If you are concerned about having to reschedule your interview because of missing documentation, then err on the side of caution. You can bring your interview appointment confirmation, your transcript or diploma, your resume, pertinent financial documents, or any other form you worry you might need. 

Whether or not your interviewer asks for these forms, it will be worthwhile to have peace of mind when you arrive. This way, you can focus your energy on answering the questions.

Be sure to prepare for the interview. You need to be able to articulate the details of your program, the experience you have that qualifies you for the internship, and what you plan to do afterwards. 

Remember that the purpose of any J-1 interviews is to ensure that participants are prepared for their internship (including financially) and that they plan to leave the U.S. upon the program’s end date.

To demonstrate this, be ready to show that you have in-depth knowledge of your internship plan, as well as your host company. Be prepared to explain how this opportunity connects with your studies and future career goals. 

It’s also important to demonstrate the ties you hold to Canada (or another country outside the U.S.). This will be different for every person, but can include:

  • Family (especially very young or very old family members)
  • Academic or career prospects 
  • Property or other financial assets

Finally, make sure to dress professionally for your visit to the consulate. It’s hard to go wrong with a button down and work pants. Add a blazer if you still feel too casual.

Once you’ve completed your interview, you will either receive your visa immediately, or be told you will receive it in the mail later.

For more information about the J-1 visa interview, check out these articles:

brown short coated dog on brown wooden parquet floor
Image source:

Meeting Your Basic Needs 

“Being able to travel and experience another culture from the context of holding a job within it opened up my worldview. It was also a good way for a young person with limited resources to be able to travel. Most of all, it was informative talking with other people about their culture, opinions and skillset to better understand a new part of the world.” -Global Internships J-1 Intern

Now that you’ve got the paper logistics ironed out, are you prepared for adjusting from life in Canada to life in the U.S.? If not, we’re here to help. 


Once you arrive in the U.S., you will need to find a place to stay. There are many types of accommodations to choose from. These include:

  • Campus housing
  • Apartments (for rent or sublet)
  • Lodging in a family’s house
  • Hostels
  • Airbnbs

Some interns choose to stay in a hostel or AirBnB temporarily after they arrive in the U.S. This way, they can spend a week or two visiting local housing options. This tends to be more reliable than conducting a search completely online. 

Some interns connect with local universities to find affordable housing. If you’re going this route, visit the housing office and ask about apartments they recommend to students. 

Additionally, some colleges have physical boards where students post ads for roommates and subletters. These can be a good place to find housing with other young adults (read: potential friends). 


Many students in the U.S. look for people to live in their apartment during the summer or winter holidays. This allows them to honor their lease without losing money. 

If you are considering signing a sublease, be sure to have a transparent conversation with the former resident. Does their landlord allow subletting? How many of their belongings will they leave in the space? Are they charging you more than their rent? If so, how much more? What are their roommates like? Will roommates live in the apartment simultaneously?

If the university near you does not have a physical bulletin board with housing ads, you can try joining Facebook groups built around local student housing. You can also join Facebook housing pages that are not specific to university students. 

Other websites you can use to find places for rent or sublet include:

  • Airbnb
  • Craigslist
  • Padmapper
  • Trulia
  • Zillow

While searching these sites, be aware that you will encounter scams. Red flags to look out for include: 

  • Unrealistically low rent
  • Property owners who refuse to meet face to face
  • Poor grammar in listings
  • Few details in listings
  • No pictures in listings

When you find a listing you like that seems reliable, spend some time researching the neighborhood where it’s located. It is important that you feel comfortable accessing a potential living area on your own (whether via public transit, walking, or car). 

It’s also good practice to set up a Zoom or Facetime call with potential roommates or landlords before visiting in person. This has become a common practice throughout the pandemic. If the person you are communicating with resists setting up a call, this may be a sign that the listing is a scam.

During a call or in-person tour, ask questions. Lots of them. They can include:

  • Are utilities (electricity, gas, and water) included in the rent? If not, how much are these bills?
  • If there was a problem in the apartment (example: clogged drain), whose responsibility is it to fix it?
  • Is there a washing machine and dryer in the unit or in the building? If so, how much does it cost?
  • Are there working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the space?
  • How are the neighbors? What is the neighborhood like?

During a tour, don’t be afraid to turn on faucets, open cabinets, test door locks, and generally ensure the apartment is up to your standards. It can also be helpful to take quick notes so that multiple tours don’t blur together.

After a tour, take some time to debrief and ask yourself a few questions. Consider the following aspects of any potential housing situation:

  • Do you feel safe and comfortable in this building? In this neighborhood?
  • Is the rent reasonable for the area and affordable for you?
  • Will it be easy to commute to your university or workplace from here?
  • Are there grocery stores and other necessities nearby?
  • Do you think you will get along with potential roommates?

As you likely know from past experiences, your housing situation can greatly affect how much you enjoy your daily life. 

It can sometimes be worth it to skip out on an awesome apartment if you fear you won’t get along with the roommates. On the flip side, be cautious about stretching your housing budget to live with specific roommates. It’s important that you feel financially secure while abroad. 

There is no perfect housing situation, but leveraging your connections and putting some effort into your search can lead to positive accommodations. 

selective focus photography of smiling woman using smartphone
Image source:

Getting Phone Service 

Ensuring you can communicate with colleagues and friends in Canada and the U.S. is an important to-do list item once you land.

The two main options include: 

  • Upgrading your current plan to one that covers the U.S.
  • Opening a new plan in the U.S.

There are also many finer details within these two routes. For example, if you know that other international students will complete internships in the same city as you, you may consider opening a family plan with them. These bills will often be lower than individual plans. 

Well-known U.S. cell phone providers include:

  • AT&T
  • Boost Mobile
  • Cricket Wireless
  • Google Fi
  • Mint Mobile
  • T-Mobile 
  • Verizon
  • Visible

If you choose to stick with your current cell provider, carefully read the fine print of your updated service. How much data does the contract allow you to use in the U.S. before you get charged for overages? Will this number work for you? 

A third option you may choose is to buy a prepaid plan for the duration of your stay. You can purchase these online or at retailers like Target and Walmart. This can be a very good option if you will not need much data.

Transportation: Getting Around U.S. Cities

In most U.S. cities, walking will not get you everywhere you need to go. It’s up to you to choose a viable means of transport based on your location, budget, and preferences.


woman in brown coat standing on train station
Image source:

First Up: Public Transportation

Public transit is a cost-effective, low-risk way to travel in the United States. Locations like New York, Boston, D.C., Chicago, and Miami are home to strong public transit networks that include both buses and trains. 

However, be aware that delays are extremely common on U.S. public transit. If you want to get anywhere on time, leave at least 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to.

If you decide to rely on public transit for your regular commute, do some research on the prices of monthly passes or discounts for students. You may save quite a bit. 

For example, CTA train fare in Chicago is $2.50. If you commute back and forth to your J-1 internship (with no transfers) 21 days out of the month, this will cost you $105 dollars monthly.

That number does not include the fare you will pay to travel for errands, entertainment, and more. However, Ventra (Chicago’s fare service) offers 30-day unlimited ride passes for $75 dollars. This means buying a pass would save you money, even if you only commuted via train or bus to and from work.

This program is not unique to Chicago. You can find similar programs in many cities. Additionally, you may be eligible for student fares or reduced rates. Spend some time on your local transit website to figure this out. 

Doing some research will ensure you spend as little on transportation as possible. 

Safety and Transit Culture: 

  • If another passenger ever makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, move closer to the front of the bus. If things escalate, tell the driver. If you are on the train, exit the car and board another, or wait for the next train. 
  • To avoid theft, make sure you are holding on to your belongings at all times. If you are wearing a backpack, it’s a good idea to take it off and set it between your feet while standing. Keep track of your phone. If you leave something on a train or bus, it’s unlikely you will get it back.
  • Be aware that it’s common for people to ask for money on trains in the U.S. If you would like to give someone a few dollars, feel free to do so. If not, politely decline. These riders are not a threat to your safety.
  • If you ever encounter an urgent threat or witness a crime, you can dial 911 for help. 


Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft are popular in many locations around the U.S. If you are staying in a major city, you should have no problem connecting with a driver at most times of the day and night. 

The most popular rideshare services are Uber and Lyft.

This mode of travel is definitely faster than public transit, but costs increase along with speed. 

As with any other mode of transit, use common sense to stay safe. Wait for drivers to state the name of whoever booked your ride before you enter their car. Stay alert and make sure drivers are going in the direction of your destination. Travel with a friend when possible. If you feel unsafe, ask to exit the car in a busy area.


Hailing a taxi isn’t impossible, but it can take more effort than calling a ride through an app. Successfully hailing a taxi depends on the area of a city you are in. You’ll have luck in a busy commercial district, but probably won’t in a residential area. 

If taxis are your preferred method of travel, it can be worthwhile to save the number of local taxi services to your phone.  That way, you can call when you need a ride. This may be faster than wandering around looking for a yellow car. 

Car Rental

Rules around renting a car are quite strict in the U.S. 

In many cases, renters must be at least 25 years old. In some cases, drivers under 25 can still rent a car, but will need to pay a “young driver’s fee.”

If you decide to rent a car, you will need to bring your license and a credit or debit card. 

If your valid driver’s license is not in English, it’s a good idea to obtain an International Driver’s Permit. This is a translation of your license. For providers like Enterprise, this document is required to rent a car if your license does not include Latin-based letters.

However, the specifics of car rental fees and requirements will vary by provider. Common brands include:

  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Enterprise
  • Hertz
  • SmartLease
  • Zipcar

You can also use websites like Kayak, Expedia, and Priceline to compare rental prices and ensure you get the most economic option. 

If you plan to travel by car daily, consider securing a long-term rental. Otherwise, a short-term rental can be an excellent choice for a weekend trip.

poeple crossing the street
Image source:


There is a strong cycling culture in many U.S. cities. However, this does not mean that streets are designed to accommodate bikers, nor that local drivers are good at sharing the road.

If you will be interning during the warmer months and plan to commute via bicycle, make sure you are aware of the associated risks. 

Bike Rental

Many cities (including New York and Chicago) offer bike rental programs. You can pick up bikes and drop them off at various ports around the city. These programs are inexpensive and easy-to-use, but they do not provide helmets. If you decide to rely on them as a regular mode of transportation, consider investing in a helmet.

A good rule of thumb for cyclists is to stick to side streets, inner boulevards, or roads with very clearly marked bike lanes. Keep an eye out for people opening doors to exit parked cars, vehicles turning left and right, and drivers who don’t have their eyes on the road.

Many cities also have trails and parks where residents can bike. These are a great option for safer, shorter rides. 

More Paper Logistics: Insurance, Taxes, and Social Security

The paperwork isn’t over after receiving your J-1 visa in Canada. More items to check off your list include:

  • Getting health insurance before leaving for the U.S.
  • Applying for and obtaining a social security number while in the U.S.
  • Filing a tax return after leaving the U.S.

The good news is that these application processes are quicker than getting a J-1 visa. We’ll walk you through the necessary steps below. 

man in red jacket wearing white mask
Image source:

Do J-1 Interns Need Health Insurance?


You can purchase insurance through your sponsor, or do so independently. (Intrax provides J-1 emergency medical & travel insurance for all our participants.)  However, you can’t skip this step. It is a requirement of the Exchange Visitor Program. Plus, in the U.S., healthcare bills without insurance are astronomical. Getting coverage during your stay will work in your favor.

Intrax Global Internships participants are covered by Envisage Global Insurance. With this plan, you will pay a copay of $100 USD for most medical visits, and $250 USD for emergency room visits. 

No matter what insurance you hold, print out your insurance card so that you’ll have it when you need it.

Keep in mind that the emergency room is NOT the first place you should go for medical attention during your program, unless you are in critical condition. If your injury is not life-threatening, you will face long wait times.

When dealing with an illness or medical concern that is not life-threatening, but still requires a physician’s care, schedule a doctor’s appointment.  You should be able to find many clinics and health centers with a quick online search. You can also ask for recommendations from your local network.

For more time-sensitive requests, go to an urgent care center. 

If you are dealing with a cold or similar routine malady, a pharmacy is your best bet. Stores like Walgreens and CVS have many over-the-counter remedies to get you through a short sickness.

Social Security for J-1 Interns

After arriving in the U.S., getting a social security number (SSN) will be one of your top priorities. This will help you later, when you file taxes.

If you already received an SSN on a previous exchange visitor stay in the U.S., you should continue to use that number. Once the U.S. government issues you a social security number, it will be valid for the rest of your life.

If you don’t already have an SSN, wait two to three days after you successfully check in with your sponsor following arrival. During this time, you can fill out the social security application. Once the wait time is up, visit your nearest Social Security office. You can find the most convenient location here.

When you go to the office, bring your:

  • Social security application
  • DS-2019
  • Passport with J-1 visa
  • I-94 card (proof of visitor status) which you can print here
  • A copy of the DS-7002 (training plan)

If your passport is under a year old, you should also bring additional identification documents.

At the office, you will speak with a staff member who will let you know if you are currently eligible for an SSN. If they are unable to verify your status, ask them for an official letter explaining that you applied for an SSN. You can show this letter to your host company so they understand the situation.

If your status is verified at the social security office, you will get an SSN, but have to wait 4-6 weeks to receive the actual card. As soon as you know your SSN, report it to your employer. This will ensure you don’t run into issues when filing your tax return.

Navigating Taxes During Your J-1 Internship

Students on a J-1 visa from Canada will be liable for some taxes during their stay in the U.S. These include:

  • Federal income tax
  • State income tax
  • City income tax

Generally, employers will deduct taxes from your paycheck throughout the year. This should make filing easier. However, it can get confusing if your employer does not know that you are exempt from certain taxes as an exchange visitor. Communicate exemptions to your Host Company to ensure that you are not paying money that you do not owe. 

Taxes that J-1 interns are not liable for include:

  • Social security tax
  • Medicare
  • Federal unemployment

After completing your program, you must file J-1 visa tax returns. Yes, this is a bit of extra paperwork. However, most J-1 participants receive money back from the U.S. in refunds after filing taxes. 

To complete your tax return, you will need to file a 1040-NR. You can find the information you need to complete this form on the W-2 your host company issues you.

Many J-1 participants choose to work with tax professionals when it comes time to file. Sprintax is a great option, since they specialize in filing for non-residents. 

If you want to learn more about filing taxes as a non-resident, check out the following articles:

man wearing camouflage dress shirt and sunglasses
Image source:

Money & Banking

Your time in the U.S. will be much more enjoyable if you aren’t worried about money. Selecting a convenient bank, saving money before you travel, and budgeting in the U.S. are all surefire ways to reduce potential stress. 

Plus, if you have the basics down, you may even have the bandwidth to make smart financial decisions for your future self, like beginning to build credit in the U.S.

Calculating J-1 Intern Pay

Before you go abroad, take some time to figure out how much money you will earn as a J-1 intern.

You can easily find this number with our intern pay calculator. This tool does all the math for you. Simply select your hourly pay, number of hours you will intern each week, and the duration of your program. Then, voilá, you’ll have an estimate of your complete internship earnings.

For example, at the end of a 20 week program, an intern who works 32 hours a week and earns $20/hour will have made:

  • $640.00 weekly (gross pay)
  • $524.80 weekly (net pay)
  • $10,496.00 in total estimated wages

This tool is very helpful for designing a budget.

Budgeting Wisely

Money stress is real and can be amplified by an unfamiliar environment. Take some time to budget using the estimated pay you previously calculated. Additionally, set aside an emergency fund before you arrive in the country.

As a precaution, we recommend bringing at least $1,500 USD with you to the States. This is roughly the monthly cost of living. If there are unforeseen circumstances that prevent you from completing your paid internship, these savings will get you through the weeks before returning home.

Most likely, you will have an awesome internship experience and won’t need to rely on the savings you brought with you. However, it’s still great to have a budget to guide your spending. You can use a template or create a spreadsheet that outlines costs of:

  • Housing 
  • Groceries
  • Personal Expenses (toiletries, etc.)
  • Transportation
  • Entertainment
  • Travel

Depending on your lifestyle, you may need to add more sections. The crux of this budget is that your monthly expenses do not exceed your monthly paycheck. Unless you have a large amount of savings specifically dedicated to your internship program, it’s important that you can live within the constraints of your internship stipend.

Selecting a Bank

The easiest way to receive your internship stipend while in the U.S. is through direct deposit. To do this, we recommend opening a U.S. bank account. 

When choosing a bank, take your location into account. You can select a bank based on popularity in a certain area, or based on customer satisfaction. 

Forbes created a tool that allows readers to see their bank's ratings. Results are organized by state. This is a useful resource if you prefer the quality of an institution over an abundance of locations.

Alternatively, you can check out Bankrate’s synthesis of research on which banks have the most locations in each state. This resource is useful if you plan to regularly withdraw and deposit cash into your account and need a bank with ATMs everywhere.

Once you choose a bank and open an account, you will need to share your routing number with your employer, so they can directly deposit money into your account. Make sure to communicate with your manager to ensure your company has all the information they need to compensate you for your work.

photo of five people walking down on pathway
Image source:

Making Friends and Having Fun in the U.S.

“I think the J1 program is amazing to experience American culture and expand your network beyond people in an individual's home country.” -Global Internships J-1 Intern

During your internship, the easiest place to form friendships will be at your workplace. If you’re skeptical of this option, listen to these numbers: in a survey by Olivet Nazarene University, 82% of respondents answered “yes” to the question “do you work with anyone you consider a friend?”

This makes sense, considering that research from the University of Kansas shows it takes about 90 hours to consider someone a friend, and 200 to consider them a close friend. Since you’ll be spending 40 hours a week at your internship, you’re bound to form at least a few strong connections. 

But what if you want to form connections outside of work? How can you put the hours in somewhere else?

There are tons of options!

A good place to start is to scope out libraries in your area. Many branches host book clubs and other meetings (example: knitting groups). If you are interested in their offerings, start going to weekly meetings. Joining others around a shared interest is great, because it ensures you’ll have a conversational starting point. And you’ll see them regularly, so you’ll be able to put in the hours it takes to make a friendship.

Connection Online

You can also find special interest groups through Facebook. If you are struggling to find these groups, start by joining community pages for your city. You can write your own post crowd sourcing advice, or simply watch the page for others’ posts about local clubs and groups.

If you play a sport, look for local club teams in your area. You should be able to find informal soccer, baseball, and basketball leagues in most U.S. cities. Running and cycling groups are also incredibly common.

Are you not a team athlete, but still want to stay active and learn something? Then consider trying something like group climbing or dancing lessons. 

Finally, reach out to any connections you have in the area where you will be living. Have a music-loving friend who studied abroad in New York? Get her intel on the best concert venues. Know an artist who did a co-op in Austin, Texas? Ask for his input on finding local workshop days.

Not only will pulling on your network for support help you find opportunities specific to your new city, but it will also help you feel socially connected as you work on building new friendships.


two woman sitting on top of white vehicle under blue sky during daytime
Image source:

Local Travel

“Everyone should seek international experience at least once in their life. At a young age, it's the most viable option with the least associated risk. I've learned to become much more independent, adapt quickly in new situations, explore while learning socially and in my career, and find love in adventure.” -Global Internships J-1 Intern

Beyond broadening your work experience and social circle, internships are a great time to see the world. 

Before venturing beyond your new city’s borders, explore what it has to offer. 

You can check out parks in your area, as well as farmers’ markets, flea markets, and fairs.

If the weather’s bad, head inside. There are more than 35,000 museums in the United States. No matter where you are interning, there’s bound to be one nearby. Here are lists of museums organized by state.

Make sure to check online for free and reduced price days if you want to save some money.

Other events you can attend to explore U.S. culture include:

  • Sporting events: go to a local game!
  • Theater: watch a play or musical
  • Performances: attend a local orchestra or dance company show
  • Music: go to a concert

If you’re ready to venture outside of your internship location, there are plenty of other places to explore. There are cross-country train lines throughout the U.S. that can get you to many cities and sites of interest. 

For camping or more out-of-the-way trips, you can rent a car.

If you’re itching to explore the vast terrain of the U.S., there are 423 national park sites to choose from.

Find a complete list of national parks here and state parks here.

The U.S. is also home to a couple dozen UNESCO world heritage sites. You can find a list of them here.

The bottom line is that there is no shortage of opportunities for adventure, no matter where you are located in the U.S. With a bit of research, you’ll find plenty to explore.

Final Thoughts

“This program was extremely beneficial to me. Learning about the U.S., its culture and work ethics has made me more aware of its people and bridged the gap between Canadians and Americans from my perspective.” -Global Internships J-1 Intern

We’re excited that you’re traveling to the U.S. for a J-1 internship. Undoubtedly, you’ll learn a ton and return to Canada with new skills, a wider network, and a clearer sense of self.

Before you go, we’d love to work with you! 

At Global Internships, we prioritize connecting bright minds to rewarding international experiences. Our customers enjoy working with us because we simplify a confusing process and prioritize global connections. 

If you’d like to connect with us for internship placement support or visa sponsorship, you can contact us here.

Until then, refer back to this guide whenever you need it. Happy reading!

For more information about interning in the U.S. with a J-1 visa from Canada, check out these articles:

Jan 5, 2022
Internship Success

More from 

Internship Success


View All