Internships are valuable opportunities to gain experience, professional insight, and practical skills for the workplace. Many students do not realize they can apply for internships abroad, but as long as you have the time to spare with your courses, there’s no reason to!
What will you get from an international internship?
- Practical, hands-on experience
- Enhanced resume or CV
- Networking opportunities
- Experienced mentors in your field
- University credit or stipend (in some cases)
Oftentimes, internships can also directly lead to employment opportunities that you may not have known existed before. If the internship provider doesn’t have an open position for you, they can usually point you in the right direction and provide you with a great recommendation. Otherwise, with an international internship on your resume, employers around the world are impressed and eager to book you for an interview.
Aside from the professional opportunities, an internship abroad can provide valuable insight into the workplace culture and customs of the country in which you are living and studying. For example, there is a huge difference between a workplace in Sweden compared to the United States, and you’ll only be able to experience them firsthand if you join the workforce yourself! After your internship is complete, you will then have a much better sense of the values and work ethic expected of employees in your host country.
Are you excited to start an internship abroad yet? First, there are still some things to consider! Read on to get a better understanding of all the internships available to you as an international student studying abroad and how they work.
There are many different types of internships available for you to choose from depending on your area of study or personal interests.
INTERNATIONAL INTERNSHIPS FOR CREDIT
Universities and colleges work collaboratively with companies to offer students internships for academic credits. These credits provide you with hands-on experience while fulfilling your academic requirements. Internships for credits are a great way to accomplish two goals at once.
Academic internships can be arranged through your academic adviser and may last 1-2 semesters in duration. To receive credit, students may be asked to keep a journal, write an essay, or make a presentation about the experience.
SUMMER INTERNSHIPS ABROAD
Summer internship programs are normally shorter in duration and can last from a few weeks to an entire summer. These internships provide academic credits or experience in your field.
Most commonly, summer internships are arranged with your school, but independent internship opportunities can be found in fields such as tourism and hospitality.
There are many types of summer internships offered to students. You may choose from paid summer internship programs, high school summer internships, or internships based on location.
Non-profit internships are normally for organizations such as charities, schools, government agencies, religious organizations, or hospitals. Non-profit internships aim to provide a public service for the community. Internships at non-profit organizations are typically unpaid but look impressive on a resume or CV.
Browse non-profit internships:
With this unique type of internship, you work for an organized community organization such as a library, a shelter, or a community center. Service-learning programs are structured in a three-step process which requires participants to:
- Define the objectives and goals of the project
- Perform the service work
- Present their experiences in a presentation or a paper
Examples of service-learning projects could be taking part in a reading assistance program at a library, working with veterinarians at an animal shelter, or designing a playground at a community center. Through service-learning, you receive transferable skills while benefiting the community.
Job shadowing is also known as an “externship” and is similar to an internship but shorter, only lasting from a few days to several weeks. Job shadowing is used as an activity for high school or university students to explore different career options.
Students taking part in job shadowing will spend time observing their mentor while working together with other professionals. Job shadowing is a great way to gain insight and experience while helping you decide the direction of your career.
Whichever type of internship you choose, you’ll have the chance to transfer your academic knowledge to real-life experience.
Depending on the company or the organization, compensation may be offered. Internships without financial benefits still offer many rewards to candidates.
PAID INTERNSHIPS ABROAD
Paid internships provide you with the opportunity to gain experience while getting paid to work! Companies offering paid internships are usually in the private sector.
Paid internships are offered in specific fields such as engineering, law, or IT internships. Therefore, a great way to gain the practical experience you need to find a job in your industry after you graduate is to find an internship within your chosen field. That way you get the most out of your international internship!
For obvious reasons, paid internships are the most sought after and companies often use them to recruit new employees. Compensation paid during these internships is not comparable to a full-time salary but is similar to a stipend to cover basic living or traveling expenses. This also means that getting accepted for the internship is more competitive.
Therefore, it’s important to demonstrate to the company that you’re the best candidate for the position. Highlight the fact that you are studying abroad and carry with your valuable critical thinking, problem-solving, and cross-cultural communication skills. In today’s globalized world, language skills are in particularly high demand, so don’t forget to mention any language you speak as well!
UNPAID INTERNSHIPS ABROAD
Unpaid internships are a great way for students who do not have permission to work in their host country to still gain the work experience necessary to successfully find a job after graduation. Before moving abroad, students should consult with the government agency that approved their visa to see which work opportunities they can take part in while living and studying abroad.
Although you are not compensated financially for your time, you can reap many other benefits, such as the experience you can put on a resume. Experience aside, you can also expect to make a lot of friends and professional contacts that you will have long after your study abroad experience is over. This is especially important considering many students begin their studies knowing no one.
Although your time is unpaid, it also means your schedule is often more flexible. This is great for students studying abroad because it gives you the flexibility to gain experience at their international internship, attend lectures, and still enjoy their new city with all of their new friends they’ve met.
WORK PLACEMENTS ABROAD
Work placements are normally shorter than internships. These types of placements are offered to those still enrolled in school. Work placements are usually part of your program or can be completed in place of a course.
In comparison, internships normally are longer, typically lasting up to a year. Internships are not only completed by students but are also for recent graduates and those looking to change careers.
Overall, paid internships, unpaid internships, and work placements allow you to apply your academic knowledge in the workplace. This experience undoubtedly gives you an advantage when entering the job market and building your resume.