Are international internships a possibility?
- Strategies for finding internships
What really works?
- Preparing to live abroad
Resources to help you prepare for your time abroad
- Work permits
If you'll be paid, you'll have to get a work permit
- Alternatives to internships
Some great opportunities may not be labeled "internships"
- Studying Abroad: What To Do Before You Go
How to line up a U.S internship for the summer after you return.
- Boston College's Global Proficiency Program
Assists students in documenting and certifying their outstanding achievements in gaining a broad global awareness through both academics and extracurricular activities. This certification is then added as an accomplishment to a student's resume.
First, ask yourself this question: is it more important for you to spend a summer abroad and experience the adventure of working and living in another country? Or is your primary objective to land a pre-professional internship that will further your career goals? If you need to be paid for your time abroad, consider a short-term paid work experience.
- Finding short-term paying jobs is relatively easy in a select number of foreign countries.
- Finding a pre-professional internship abroad will be much more difficult, UNLESS you are willing to pay to participate in a program arranged through a U.S. educational or exchange program. Some students do find internships abroad on their own, but you will need both persistence and long-range planning.
- Finding an internship abroad that also offers a salary is extremely rare.
REMEMBER THIS FACT -- internships are not nearly as common abroad as they are in the United States, and those that do exist are usually offered to students from that country. This means that you can't just open a directory or a database, find a long list of internship options and just send off a few resumes and cover letters.
If you are unable to find an appropriate internship abroad, there are alternatives.
Don't despair! Here are some strategies for finding internships abroad.
If you are intent on finding a pre-professional internship experience abroad, you can probably do that, if you start early and are persistent. Here are the most common strategies students use to find internships abroad:
1) "VOLUNTEER" ABROAD
If you are interested in doing an internship in a developing country, take a look at our Volunteering Abroad page. Understand that "volunteer" positions often include room and board. Often these positions offer just as much challenge and responsibility as an internship in the US Generally, the opportunities are with nonprofit or governmental agencies.
2) USE LISTINGS OF FREE AND FEE-BASED INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS
NO-FEE PROGRAMS: There are a few internship programs abroad that are open to anyone and do not involve a fee. Most of these are unpaid, and most are offered by government agencies or nonprofit organizations. SEE BELOW FOR LINKS.
FEE-BASED PROGRAMS: In addition, there are a number of fee-based programs run by an American organizations. If you have the financial resources to afford one of these programs, they can provide tremendous work opportunities not available elsewhere. These programs come in two forms:
- summer study abroad programs (usually run by an American university) that includes an internship component.
BC Office of International Programs
Information on a variety of international internship opportunities, including four programs run by the BC Office of International Programs.
Best Bets for Internships Abroad
An excellent set of links to organizations offering internships abroad, from The University of California at Irvine. Most of these internships are through colleges and placement organizations in the US, and most require a fee.
Building Global Skills
International Internships, Coops and Study in Rising Demand as Employers Seek Workers with Foreign Experience
CampusCareerCenter - Major Internship Organizations and Programs
A list of businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions that offer a variety of internship experience throughout the world.
Multifaceted site with jobs and internships nationally and internationally. Choose your location and select "internship" as a search parameter.
Excellent database of international internships
Intern in France
Sponsored by the French embassy and the French-American Chamber of Commerce.
International Internship Directory
Opportunities offered by two- and four-year colleges and universities, governmental agencies, non-profit groups, private organizations, and corporations; from Michigan State University.
Internship exchange organizations:
The International Association of Students in Economics and Business Management
Association for International Practical Training (Hospitality/tourism positions through Student Exchanges; also career development programs for recent graduates in many fields)
Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals
One-year program that includes language study and other classes, a five-month internship and residence with a German family.
International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience
Internship Placement Organizations:
Full-time, unpaid internships in Dublin, Ireland. There is a fee for this program.
Intrax Intern Abroad
Professional Career Development Program offers placements in London, Paris, Barcelona, Tokyo, and Costa Rica. Fee required, fully refunded if student is not placed.
3) SET UP YOUR OWN INTERNSHIP
Either through contacts you have made while studying or traveling abroad, through inventive networking (professors, friends of your family, family of your friends, fellow students from your target country), or by directly contacting companies in your target country. The University of Michigan's International Center provides some excellent advice on setting up your own internship.
Preparing for your time abroad
- Ideally, you will have been learning a foreign language.
- In addition, learn everything you can about the country in which you hope to spend your time. You will save yourself a lot of trouble, and you will be much better prepared to be of service to your hosts
- The Career Resource Library has some books on intercultural differences and adapting to a new culture.
- If you can, speak to people who have previously interned or volunteered with the organization, or with current interns and volunteers.
In order to be paid for work or an internship abroad, you will need to procure a work permit for that country. There are two ways to do that, both of which qualify as work "exchanges," as your participation allows a student from another country to work in the US:
- If you are headed for one of the five countries that BUNAC works with (Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada), you can pay them a fee to provide you with a work permit. This permit is good for any job you can find in that country (that is, you don't have to get your job through one of the BUNAC offices).
- If you are participating in a U.S.-based work exchange program, they will place you in an overseas job and handle all the work permit details.
- There is a third option, but it is so difficult to arrange that it is rarely done. If you are headed for a country other than the nine listed above, a work permit may be very difficult to obtain. In most countries, the company that wishes to hire you must apply to their government, making the case that they could not find a qualified applicant in their country. Very few companies are willing to go through this process, especially for a summer hire.
- Internships in the US with an international organization or company
- Short-term volunteer opportunities
- Short-term paid work abroad (This is a link to a University of Michigan Web page.)