The Benefits of an International Internship

It is ingrained in our heads that we must do at least one internship during our college careers and even multiple at time, if possible. Some majors are more competitive than others and the more you can make yourself stand out, the better. Colleges also try to push students to study abroad. It is an opportunity worth taking when you’re young and have the time and it exposes you to a new culture as well. Studying abroad is one of those once in a lifetime experiences that you’ll definitely regret if you don’t do it. But what would happen if you had the chance to do both at the same time?

This past summer, I was able to achieve my dreams of studying abroad while doing an internship at the same time. I went to Belize for six weeks and worked with a non-government organization that focused on Belizean tourism. While I was down in Belize, I was able to live with an amazing host family. This was a decision I didn’t expect to make right away, but I am so happy I did it. I had such a positive experience studying abroad, so here are some reasons why I think it is beneficial to do an internship abroad.

1. All the benefits of studying abroad

Since you’ll be traveling outside of your home country, you’ll get the chance to become immersed in a different country’s culture. You’ll get to meet new people, understand their customs and create new memories for yourself. Be sure to take as many chances to see your new country outside of work as well. Go on an adventure for the weekend, enjoy the nightlife, eat at the local restaurants. Pick up some of the  phrases the locals say. By the end of your time, you’ll be fighting back tears and saying that you never want to leave; I know I did! Plus, your Insta will look hella good. (You can thank me later).

2. Gain a new perspective of the working world

A huge benefit from studying abroad is getting to see cross-culture comparisons between countries. One of the biggest differences countries have between each other is  their work environment and not every country goes about work the same way the United States does. When I was in Belize, I found myself in a very slow-paced environment. My coworkers were taking their time with their assignments and the office had a very lax ambience. I realized that if I finished my work for the day too fast, I’d be sitting at my desk killing more time than being productive. In the United States, we believe in a ‘time is money’ philosophy. We work ourselves to exhaustion and stress out because of the workload we put on. Traveling to a new place can show you there are different versions of a workplace that can be better suited for your individual goals.

3. A great resumé builder

Since you are working and gaining experience in the process, this would be essential to include in your resumé. Employers are always looking for workers who have strong working qualities and something original that’s worth remembering. Not many people can say they obtained an international internship and got professional contacts from there. Remember, networking is your best friend. Be sure you keep in contact with your coworkers after your internship is done!

4. It could fulfill major/minor requirements

Depending on your degree, having an internship is imperative to graduate. Colleges want to make sure their students are ready for the real world and having them get internships is the best way for this to happen. Most internships will not pay you, so be sure you are getting academic credit for it. This is why maintaining contact with your academic advisor is really important during this process. The worst thing could be getting no credit for your major.

5.  Programs can be tailored to your needs

This part requires a lot of searching based on what you want to get out of the experience. I did some digging to find the internship I wanted. I knew that I didn’t want to go during the school year. I wasn’t interested in going to Europe or Australia but I didn’t want to spend my entire summer there. You might even get the option of staying with a host family as opposed to staying at a college campus with other international students. There is nothing wrong with being picky here! After all, you will be the one paying and doing the internship. Pick the best program that highlights all the things you want out of your international experience. It’s best to be committed to something you know you will like as opposed to being stuck somewhere and hating it.

6. Scholarships and Grants can help lower the costs

Whether the program is being offered by your college or at another institution, there are always scholarships available for students. Colleges know how expensive these trips can be, so they try and help out where they can! Don’t limit it to just the host college either; go search online for scholarships. Plus, financial aid can be helpful here as well. Don’t let the cost discourage you!

I hope this list helps you reconsider your thoughts on getting an international internship. It very well might be the best decision of your life. Remember, college is all about making memories and challenging yourself and what better way to do that than going abroad!