An international internship, or one with an international focus, can be a valuable experience. It is an opportunity to better understand international business culture, gain a new perspective of a country or culture, make contacts and connections that will be helpful throughout your academic and professional career, and gain valuable real-world experience. As you might expect, an international internship will require some advance planning and additional effort on your part, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
The information below provides advice on some of the options for finding an internship abroad. The Office of International Programs can assist you in selecting a program and advise you on the logistics. Remember that if you want to receive academic credit for this internship, you will need to work closely with your academic advisor and follow the procedures recommended by your department for the content of the internship. The Office of Career Services has additional resources on internships and can provide helpful advice on your internship search, including help with resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills.
Many study abroad programs offer internships as part of an academic study abroad experience. In general, finding a substantive internship is easier in a country where you speak the language fluently. If an internship is a crucial part of your study abroad program, investigate the options carefully. Inquire within your study abroad program as to the level of support provided for the internship component.
Important questions to consider:
- How many companies do they normally work with?
- If you have specific needs, will they seek out new companies to meet these needs?
- If your first internship does not work out, can you be reassigned?
- Will the provider give you an orientation to business/work life in the host country and provide support?
- Can they assist with any forms or evaluations you might need for your department?
Several study abroad programs specialize in internship/volunteer activities overseas. The provider will help arrange the internship and assist with living arrangements. Some of these programs are based in developing countries and internships may have a volunteer or social justice component. Some programs may offer academic credit, but many do not. Inquire carefully as to the level of support provided for the internship component.
Important questions to consider:
How many companies do they normally work with?
If you have specific needs, will they seek out new companies to meet these needs?
If your first internship does not work out, can you be reassigned?
Will the provider give you an orientation to business/work life in the host country and provide support?
Can they assist with any forms or evaluations you might need for your department?
What support is provided in the event of problems or emergencies?
Many U.S. government and international organizations offer internships in the U.S. or overseas. Many of these internships are competitive, but may offer substantive work and opportunities to develop professional networks. Most are unpaid, although a few government agencies (e.g., National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency) offer paid internships and may even pay travel expenses for you to go to Washington. You may want to look into local opportunities or smaller organizations.
While not easy to arrange, self-arranged internships abroad can be very rewarding, especially if you have existing professional or personal contacts. This kind of internship would have less structure and support than other internships, and will require a great deal of advance planning and careful research on your part. Not only will you need to come negotiate the internship, but you will need to work out housing and other logistical information. You will need to carefully work out visa requirements. Even unpaid internships may require a special visa or work permit.
For additional background information on internships, the following websites have useful information: