Internship programs have become an integral part of academic and professional development, allowing students to gain practical experience, expand their networks, and explore different cultures. For international students, the prospect of an internship abroad offers even more exciting possibilities. Read further to learn about the benefits of undertaking an internship abroad, the challenges involved, and where and how international students can make the most of this transformative experience.
Read also our ranking of the best countries to study abroad.
The benefits of undertaking an internship abroad
In today’s interconnected world, the value of international experience cannot be overstated. As the boundaries between nations continue to blur, the demand for individuals with a global mindset is on the rise. And one of the most effective ways to gain this invaluable perspective is by undertaking an internship abroad. Here are some of the ways how pursuing an internship abroad can open doors to endless possibilities for international students.
You’ll gain an invaluable international experience
The world as we know it today becomes increasingly interconnected. And the value of international experience cannot be overstated, especially for students embarking on an internship abroad. They can gain a unique perspective on global business practices, cultural diversity, and professional skills.
And this enhanced viewpoint fosters creativity, critical thinking, and the ability to approach problems from multiple angles. Students then become more well-rounded and insightful individuals.
You’ll develop a global professional network
Another one of the most significant advantages of internship abroad is the opportunity to expand your professional network on a global scale. Working alongside professionals from different countries exposes students to new ideas, different work styles, and potential mentors who can guide them in their career paths.
These connections can prove invaluable when seeking future employment opportunities, both locally and internationally. Nurturing these relationships can lead to long-lasting connections that go across continents, providing you with a strong support system in your professional life.
You’ll enhance your language skills
An internship abroad presents a unique opportunity to sharpen your language skills. Whether you opt for a destination where English is the primary language or venture into a country with a different linguistic background, you will for sure be exposed to an immersive language environment. Engaging with locals and colleagues in their native tongue enhances your fluency. This also sharpen your communication abilities, improves vocabulary and your confidence in expressing yourself effectively.
You’ll stand out in a competitive job market
In today’s job market, employers are often impressed by candidates who have taken the initiative to step outside their comfort zones and explore new environments. Undertaking an internship abroad distinguishes international students from their peers, showcasing their ability to navigate unfamiliar territories and thrive in multicultural settings.
The experiences and skills gained during an international internship can make a significant impact on a student’s resume. This sets them apart from other candidates and showcases adaptability and willingness to embrace challenges. In other words, this improves their overall employability.
How to get an internship abroad?
Finding internships as an international student can be exciting yet challenging. It usually requires proactive research, networking, and utilizing various resources available to you. Here are the steps you can follow to find your way through as you embark on this exciting journey.
Identify your goals and do your research accordingly
The first step in finding internship programs as an international student is to identify your goals. You should then determine the industry or field you wish to gain professional experience in. Along, you should also list the specific skills you want to develop. Then research countries or regions known for their expertise in your chosen field. This will help you narrow down your options and single out internships that align with your career goals.
Take advantage of your university career services
This might be the best place to start your research when looking for internships or any job opportunity. These services are dedicated to assisting students and often have connections with companies and organizations that offer internships to international students. This is also why the university you choose to study in is important. The right institution should be able to provide you with the best resources in this matter. So, reach out to your career services office, and explore the available resources and guidance they provide.
Attend career fairs and seize every networking opportunity
Networking is a crucial aspect of finding internships as an international student. Attend career fairs, industry conferences, and networking events both on and off-campus. These events provide an excellent opportunity to connect with professionals in your field of interest. And of course, you can learn about potential internship openings. Build relationships, exchange contact information, and follow up with individuals you meet to expand your network. This will greatly increase your chances of finding internships.
Check online job portals, internship databases and global companies’ websites
There are numerous online job portals and internship databases specifically designed for students and young professionals. Websites like LinkedIn or InternHQ provide internship opportunities in various industries and locations. Don’t hesitate to use the search filters to narrow down your options. Moreover, you can also directly go to the source and research global companies or organization’s websites. You can explore their career sections or internship programs as many of them often have structured internship programs that provide valuable learning experiences for international students.
Consider Government Programs and Exchanges, Professional associations and Chambers of Commerce
Research government-sponsored initiatives in your home country or the host country you wish to intern in. These programs often provide financial support, visa assistance, and professional development opportunities. Examples include the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program in the United States or the Erasmus+ program in Europe. Professional associations and chambers of commerce are also excellent resources for finding internships abroad. And they usually have membership directories and job boards that connect students with industry-specific opportunities. Join relevant professional associations in your field and explore the resources they offer.
Get yourself informed about visa regulations
Before you go to study abroad as well as before applying for internship abroad, you need to familiarize yourself with the visa regulation of the host country. Make sure then to understand the necessary documentation and legal processes to avoid any complications during your internship application and stay. Also, keep in mind that each country has specific requirements for international students seeking internships. So make sure to learn about visa types, duration limits, and work permits in the country you plan to go to.
Prepare your applications
Once you have identified potential internships, the next step is to prepare a “bulletproof” application package. For that, you have to customize your resume, cover letter and any materials you can use to highlight your skills, education and cultural adaptability. When writing your cover letter, clearly articulate your motivation for pursuing the specific internship program abroad. Also, emphasize the unique contributions and perspectives you can bring as an international student.
Some of the best internship abroad programs
A good internship program offers relevant work experiences, provides mentorship, promotes inclusivity and diversity, encourages communication and networking, and prioritizes interns’ well-being, preparing them for future success. It’s a place where you learn and work in a safe and healthy environment and do more than just photocopies and coffee runs. The programs below represent some of the best options available, offering high-quality placements, comprehensive support, and cultural immersion.
International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE)
IAESTE is a world leader organization that facilitates paid internships in STEM fields for students worldwide. Established in 1948, and with more than 80 member countries, IAESTE offers a vast network of opportunities to gain hands-on experience through technical internships. And each year, the association sends students to complete internships at universities, research centers, and companies all over the world. The US division of the association is administered by Cultural Vistas, a non-profit organization which fosters cultural exchange and professional development, since 1950.
Find out more about IAESTE, about their member countries, their particularity and the services and internship opportunities they offer.
The Intern Group
Another organization worth checking is the Intern Group which lists internship programs in 30+ destinations around the world and in all major career fields. They collaborate with 3000+ high-profile partner hosts, whether universities, NGOs, startups or global companies. Moreover, the program aims for students willing to travel outside their comfort zone while getting meaningful experience in their field of specialization. For that, they offer affordable package programs along with financial aid in the form of need-based grant. Furthermore, several university partners of The Intern Group include the program into their degrees, allowing students to earn course credit and scholarships.
Find out more by visiting The Intern Group’s website. Learn how it works, the destinations they offer, and other relevant details.
AIESEC (Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce)
AIESEC is the world’s largest youth-run organization, offering internships, teaching and volunteer experiences. Established in 1948 in 7 countries in Europe, the organization is now present in over 120 countries. AIESEC’s internship programs focus on developing leadership qualities and cross-cultural understanding. With a diverse range of opportunities in fields like education, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and social impact, AIESEC provides a platform for students to make a positive difference while gaining valuable professional experience. What makes this organization stand out is that it is entirely run by students and recent graduates from institutions of higher education, with more than 5,000 partner organizations around the world.
Find out more by visiting AIESEC’s website.
Global Experiences specializes in providing customized internship programs such as fall, spring, summer and even virtual internships. Founded by world travelers who have lived, worked or studied overseas, the organization now provides internships in a variety of industries through 30+ locations worldwide. Global Experiences also places a strong emphasis on cultural immersion, providing local support, language classes, and networking opportunities to enhance the overall experience. They offer internships in fields such as accounting, communication, finance, computer science and more, tailored to each participant’s specific career goals. Their programs provide students with an overseas adventure while gaining a professional edge in their field of study.
To find out more, check out the website of Global Experiences.
Intern HQ is a division of International Volunteer HQ, the world’s biggest volunteer travel organization. And this internship division offers students, graduates and young professionals the opportunity to advance their career through a work experience overseas or virtually. They stand out with a quality service where they take care of everything. This goes from sourcing and customizing your placement to make arrangements for your airport pick up, accommodation, food, etc. InternHQ also guarantees a real life professional experience that will weight on your resume and will attract the attention of employers. Their program collection includes more than 240 placement opportunities through 22 host countries, at hundreds of host organizations.
Learn more about InternHQ, their service packages and other relevant details.
Absolute Internship stands apart for their abroad internship offerings that take place in top global cities such as Barcelona, Hong-Kong, London, Madrid, New York, Paris, Shanghai or Tokyo. They partner with more than 800 world-leading companies to ensure high-quality, life-changing placements for university students and graduates. Absolute Internship’s programs focus on professional development, cultural immersion, and building a global network. They stand out with their non-discrimination commitment in their programs. Also, the organization is committed to providing overseas placement opportunities that would be difficult to impossible to find otherwise.
To find out more, visit the official website of Absolute Internship, the programs they offer and the industries where you can find the best internship.
Another name that comes up often when it comes to internship abroad is CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange). And since 1947, the organization is committed to build bridges for international students looking for valuable work experience abroad. This goes through internship, working in the US, study abroad and teach abroad programs. Moreover, with CIEE International’s internship program, individuals can embark on a transformative journey, expanding their horizons, and preparing themselves for success in the global workforce. They have an extensive work of partner organizations, offering a diverse range of internship placements across 20+ destinations abroad. You have the choice between 4 options: summer, semester, part-time and virtual global internships.
Visit the website of CIEE for more details.
Undertaking an internship abroad is a transformative experience that opens doors to endless possibilities for international students. From gaining global perspectives and expanding networks to enhancing language skills and adaptability, interning abroad provides a competitive edge in today’s hyperconnected world. While challenges may arise, with careful preparation and a positive mindset, international students can navigate these difficulties. But those who take the leap would emerge with invaluable skills, memories, and a newfound sense of confidence.