How to Find an Internship Abroad

Unlike a domestic internship, interning abroad allows you to gain global experiences and work skills while immersing yourself in a foreign culture. However, with so many resources available to find an internship in the US, it might seem more convenient to intern in the states. But that’s not true! Lucky for you, Her Campus has spoken to collegiettes who have already been accepted to internships abroad as well as career advisers who can help you decide if interning abroad is right for you.

Pros of Interning Abroad

Before you learn the secrets of applying to an international internship, it’s important to decide if this is the best way for you to intern while in college. Her Campus asked Vicki Salemi, founder of the Career Boot Camp for College Grads, author of Big Career in the Big City: Land a Job and Get a Life in New York and host of Score That Job, a TV series on MediabistroTV. “Every college student should have at least one internship on her résumé,” says Salemi. “Simply stated, an international internship appears worldly. It puts you on another level in terms of experience.”

Another advantage to interning abroad is the guaranteed exposure to the business culture of a different country. “I've already seen a significant difference between the American and British workplace,” says Ryann Whelan, a junior at Loyola Marymount University who is currently participating in her university’s combined study and internship program in London, England. “I'm a lot less intimidated by my boss here than at the major TV network I interned for in the States simply because there is less of a divide between superiors and subordinates. The environment is much more laid back and chatty than the efficiency-obsessed American workplace.” Ryann never would have been aware of these informal aspects of the British workplace without an internship there.

Interning abroad also allows you to network and make contacts if you decide you are interested in pursuing a career in a foreign country after graduation. By getting to know your co-workers, you’ll have valuable connections when you start looking for a permanent position in that country after graduation.

Cons of Interning Abroad

If this is your only opportunity to go abroad in college, keep in mind that an internship leaves you with limited time for traveling. “Interning abroad is quite a time commitment,” says Ryann. “It doesn't leave much time for exploring and experiencing the city, as well as traveling outside the country.”

The complications of visa regulations and cultural differences that may affect whether or not you will be paid are another challenge of interning abroad. If your internship is paid, most countries require you to obtain a work visa to receive payment as an American citizen working abroad. The eligibility and application requirements are determined by the country you plan to intern in, and it is often difficult to obtain a work visa for a short amount of time. You will also eventually need a letter from your future employer, as well as a passport, to enter the country.

Interning across the globe isn’t the key to guaranteed employment; your actual internship duties matter as well.  If an internship in the US will offer you better experience than a particular internship abroad, take the domestic internship. “The type of internship is important, too,” says Salemi. “The internship responsibilities ultimately mean more than the location itself. I'd rather see that you assisted a VP in running a major PR campaign than fetched morning doughnuts and coffee as a mailroom clerk in Paris.” 

If you’ve decided to pursue an international internship, continue reading to learn how to find one!

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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How to Find an International Internship

Step 1: Meet with a study abroad adviser.   

There are a few different ways to approach the internship search, but the first step should always be to meet with a study abroad adviser at your university. Even if you are looking for a summer opportunity, your adviser can direct you toward application methods recommended by your school. If you want to participate in a semester internship, your adviser can tell you if it will fit into your academic plan and allow you to graduate on time. Otherwise, a summer opportunity may be preferred. Your adviser will also be able to tell you if your university has its own international internship program and can recommend alternative programs if it does not. If you choose to participate in an alternative program, you can also discuss whether you should seek a paid position or one providing academic credit.

Step 2: Research international internship programs and decide which one is right for you.

Option 1: Apply to your university’s international internship program

Hundreds of overseas internships are sponsored by American universities, and they’re often the easiest option for undergraduates because of university financial aid and in-person guidance from the college’s study abroad office. University abroad programs also commonly include housing accommodations, but vary between solely internship programs and those that combine coursework with an internship. Both options generally allow students to complete their internship for academic credit.

“I wanted to intern abroad because I had always planned to study abroad, but also didn't want to miss out on interning for a semester,” says Ryann. “Interning is such a valuable experience that we only have access to for a limited amount of time, so the fact that LMU’s program to London included an internship was ideal.”

When applying through their university’s programs, students apply to a specific location and, once accepted, the university utilizes their indicated fields of interest to search for a match. Ryann, an English major, is currently interning at Purple Flame Media, a media company that makes videos for charities and humanitarian efforts. “I indicated ‘Film and Television’ as my top field of interest,” says Ryann. “I also mentioned in my CV that I had gone on outreach trips to Africa, so it was a pretty great fit.”

Similar to a study abroad program, admission to a university’s intern abroad program requires excellent academic standing as well as certain language requirements, depending on the specific university and program location. For example, Boston University’s Paris Internship Program, a combined internship and French-language study program, requires a minimum of four semesters of French courses to apply. However, there are also opportunities to intern abroad if you don’t speak a foreign language. BU, for example, has an extensive list of programs in non-English speaking countries without a language requirement, such as programs in Rome, Italy, and Tokyo, Japan.

Option 2: Apply to an international internship placement program

Rather than searching for international internship positions on your own, there are a variety of companies that specialize in placing college students in internships abroad. These organizations match you with guaranteed internships in your field and location of interest. Most program applications consist of a résumé, your transcript, and a personal essay. Once accepted, a personal consultant will match you with internships in your field and location of interest, as well as help you polish any internship application materials, such as your résumé and cover letter.

Start your international internship search by checking out StudyAbroad.com and  GoAbroad.com.

Although these sites feature hundreds of opportunities to intern abroad, the better-known programs are listed below. These programs do not require interns to be fluent in a language, but several of them offer optional language courses to encourage immersion into the country’s culture. All of the listed programs offer a customized international internship placement in every field, housing accommodations, an orientation to help you adapt to the culture, and the opportunity to receive academic credit.

CISabroad

Program Locations: Argentina, Australia, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, USA-Hawaii, Vietnam
Internship Fields: A complete list is located here.
How to apply: The application can be found here.

Global Experiences

Program Locations: Barcelona (Spain), Dublin (Ireland), Florence (Italy), London (England), Milan (Italy), New York City (USA), Paris (France), San Jose (Costa Rica), Shanghai (China), Stockholm (Sweden), Sydney (Australia), Washington DC (USA) 
Internship Fields: A complete list is located here.
How to apply: The application instructions are here.
Application: Apply here.

International Internships

Program Locations: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain
Internship Fields: A complete list is located here.
How to apply: The application instructions are here and here

World Endeavors

Program Locations: Argentina, Australia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Thailand
Internship Fields: A complete list is located here.
How to apply: The application instructions and application can be found here.

Although the similarity of programs can make it difficult to choose just one, student reviews of the programs can provide unbiased evaluations of their quality. Abroad101 and Go Overseas feature thousands of reviews that can help you decide.

Study abroad advisers may also be able to provide advice on which program is right for you. Alex Puzzolo, a junior at Central Michigan University, was directed to apply to Global Experiences by her study abroad adviser. A few days after submitting the program’s online application form along with her résumé and cover letter, she was notified of her acceptance. “I chose Global Experiences because they offer a variety of countries with internship placements,” says Alex. “They also provide internship placements for several majors and areas of study.” After working with Global Experiences’ consultants through the application process, Alex was accepted to a summer PR internship in Dublin, Ireland. “Global Experiences has been awesome to work with,” says Alex. “They provide career building services such as résumé and cover letter tips, and helped me receive academic credit from my internship.”

If you choose to intern abroad, remember that no matter where you go, what industry you work in, or which program you go through to get there, the ultimate key to a successful internship abroad is encouraging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. Use this guide to find your dream international internship, and then make the most of your experience. Good luck, globetrotting collegiette, and share your experiences from interning abroad in the comments below!