Employment Abroad

Your step-by-step guide to finding an internship abroad

Updated on: Jun 12, 2024
Your step-by-step guide to finding an internship abroad
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Completing an internship makes you 85% more likely to land a job after graduation.

Far from just an exercise in coffee-fetching, internships can be your fast-track ticket to a prosperous career. 

What if you could take that pivotal internship experience and dial it up by going global? Interning abroad offers a wealth of additional benefits:

  • Cultural immersion 
  • Language skills 
  • Expanded professional network
  • Exposure to international job opportunities
  • Enhanced soft skills like cross-cultural communication and teamwork
  • Opportunities for personal growth and increased self-confidence

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore:

  • The increasing importance of internships in a globalised job market
  • The unique advantages (and a few challenges) of international internships
  • Proven methods for securing the perfect overseas internship
  • Essential factors to consider before taking the leap, such as visas and adapting to a new work culture
  • Actionable tips to maximise your experience and convert it into long-term career success

But before the internship, you're thinking you'd like to study abroad first? We've got you. 

Click here and start browsing universities and courses abroad now!

Ready to exponentially enhance your career prospects and global network? Let's dive in.

What is an internship?

An internship is a structured work experience program that varies in duration, from as short as a week to as long as a full year. These programs are typically aimed at students or recent graduates looking to gain practical skills in their field of interest.

Why companies offer internships:

  • To evaluate potential future employees
  • To bring in fresh perspectives
  • To develop a talent pipeline

Companies often find it more convenient to hire from their pool of interns rather than searching externally. Therefore, selecting an internship that aligns well with your career aspirations is highly beneficial.

Alternatives to traditional internships

For those who may have missed out on traditional internships, perhaps due to the pandemic or other circumstances, there are alternative avenues for gaining experience

Options include:

  • Virtual internships: Offers flexibility and a remote working environment
  • Online volunteer work: Contributes to social causes while building skills
  • Part-time jobs: Provides a different, yet still valuable, kind of work experience

By considering these alternatives, you keep your options open and continue building relevant skills, regardless of the situation.

Also read: Sandwich programs in the UK

Everything you need to study abroad
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Why choose an international internship?

  • Fine-tune your intercultural work skills 

Global businesses are seeking adaptable staff.

In our ever-globalising world, cultural awareness isn't just a nice-to-have; it's often a job requirement. Whether it's communication with a remote team or understanding cultural nuances in marketing strategies, intercultural skills are paramount.

Example: A marketing campaign that works in the UK might not resonate in India. An understanding of cultural differences can make the difference between success and failure.

Tip: Attend local events and interact with colleagues and community members during your internship to gain a hands-on understanding of cultural norms and values.

  • Develop a global network 

Networking across different countries can lead to unique opportunities.

Building connections with professionals around the world not only broadens your horizons but opens doors to opportunities you might never have considered.

Example: A contact you meet in New York could lead to a partnership or job offer years down the line.

Tip: Always follow up with new connections; a simple email or LinkedIn message can help to solidify the relationship.

  • Jumpstart your future career 

An international internship can directly impact your career readiness.

Employers value relevant work experience, and an internship abroad provides a unique blend of professional and cultural experience.

Example: A marketing student who interns in Paris with a global advertising firm would gain exposure to European marketing strategies, making them stand out in job interviews and potentially leading to sought-after positions in top agencies.

Tip: Choose an internship that aligns with your long-term career goals to ensure that the experience will be particularly relevant to your future employers.

  • Increase your confidence 

Challenging experiences like international internships can lead to personal growth.

Confidence is a valuable soft skill in the workplace, and facing new challenges abroad can be a catalyst for self-improvement.

Example: Successfully navigating work in a new country can lead to increased self-assurance in tackling new projects back home.

Tip: Practice public speaking by offering to lead a meeting or present a project update; it's a valuable skill that can greatly enhance your self-confidence.

  • Understand global business practices 

Understanding how different markets function can be a significant advantage.

In a world where businesses often operate across borders, knowledge of international practices is invaluable.

Example: Researching how consumer behavior varies in different markets can help in crafting globally successful strategies.

Tip: Join local industry-related groups or forums online; engaging with professionals in the area can expose you to different viewpoints and practices in the region's market.

How to find internships abroad

Finding the perfect international internship is a journey that requires careful planning and consideration of various options. Here's a guide to help you navigate through the process:

Program providers

  • What it is: Collaborating with agencies or educational institutions that facilitate internships.
  • Pros: Structured pathways, additional support, connections in your industry.
  • Cons: Costs, potential lack of customisation.
  • Tip: Investigate various providers, considering both benefits and potential downsides.

Utilising study abroad offices

  • What it is: Utilising the resources and connections of your university's study abroad office.
  • Pros: Access to exclusive opportunities, university support.
  • Cons: Limited options, potential alignment with only specific majors.
  • Tip: Engage with an advisor early to explore and plan.

Targeting global companies

  • What it is: Pursuing internships with large multinational companies that have presence abroad.
  • Pros: Access to cutting-edge environments, potential for high-profile experience.
  • Cons: Highly competitive, may require specific skill sets.
  • Tip: Utilise professional networks like LinkedIn, and approach HR departments directly.

Going it alone:

  • What it is: Conducting an independent search without the help of an intermediary.
  • Pros: Flexibility, potential for unique opportunities.
  • Cons: More time-consuming, potential legal hurdles.
  • Tip: Network, use country-specific job portals, tailor applications, and be mindful of legalities.

Whether you opt for a structured program or an independent approach, understanding the pros and cons of each option will guide you in your pursuit of an international internship that aligns with your career goals and personal interests.

Also read: Working while studying in the UK

Application process

Finding the right international internship is just the beginning. 

The application process requires careful attention to detail and an understanding of international standards. Here's what you need to know:

How to apply:

  • Research: Investigate the company culture, values, and specific requirements for the internship. Look for insights from previous interns if possible.
  • Prepare documents: Tailor your CV and cover letter to the role. Consider the country's specific formatting standards and highlight relevant skills and experiences.
  • Online platforms: Utilise platforms like LinkedIn, company websites, or country-specific job portals. Ensure your online profiles are professional and up-to-date.
  • Follow up: If you haven't heard back within the expected timeframe, send a polite follow-up email expressing continued interest.

What to expect:

  • Interviews: Prepare for multiple rounds of interviews, including phone or video calls. Research common interview questions in your industry and practice your answers.
  • Assessment: Be ready for skills assessments, tests, or portfolio reviews. Understand what might be expected and prepare accordingly.
  • Timeline: International applications may take longer. Keep track of all deadlines and stay patient.

Importance of tailoring your resume and cover letter:

  • Relevance: Align your CV and cover letter with the specific role. Use keywords from the job description and provide concrete examples of your relevant experience.
  • Cultural nuances: Research and adapt to cultural differences in resume formatting, language use, or communication style.
  • Professionalism: Show that you've put effort into understanding the company and role. A well-tailored application demonstrates your genuine interest and professionalism.

Also read: Guide to resumes and interviews with ChatGPT

Additional tips:

  • Language skills: If applying in a non-native language, consider having a native speaker review your application.
  • Legal considerations: Research visa requirements or work permits if applicable.
  • Networking: Utilise your network or seek informational interviews to gain insights into the company or industry.

The application process for an international internship may seem daunting, but with careful preparation and an understanding of what to expect, you can present yourself in the best possible light. 

Remember, a tailored application isn't just about fitting a role; it's about showcasing how you align with the company's culture and goals. Make it count!

Everything you need to study abroad
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Getting the most out of your internship

An international internship is more than just a line on your CV; it's a chance to grow both personally and professionally. 

Here's how to maximise the learning, experience, and long-term benefits for your career:

Set clear goals:

  • Understanding your objectives: Know what you want to achieve. Whether it's mastering a specific skill or building a network, having clear goals will guide your efforts.
  • Regular check-ins: Assess your progress regularly and adjust as needed.

Engage actively:

  • Take initiative: Volunteer for projects, ask questions, and show enthusiasm.
  • Network: Build relationships with colleagues, attend industry events, and connect with professionals in your field.
  • Seek feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from supervisors and peers to continue improving.

Adapt to the local Culture:

  • Understand cultural norms: Research and observe local customs and business etiquette.
  • Embrace differences: Be open to new ways of thinking and working.

Reflect and document your experience:

  • Keep a journal: Documenting your experiences, challenges, and achievements can provide valuable insights.
  • Reflect on learning: Regular reflection helps you understand what you've learned and how it applies to your future career.

Plan for the future:

  • Leverage the experience: Highlight specific skills and experiences in your CV and interviews.
  • Maintain connections: Stay in touch with colleagues and mentors; they could be valuable contacts in the future.
  • Consider next steps: Use the insights gained to guide your next career moves, whether further education or job applications.

Additional tips:

Stay healthy: Take care of yourself physically and mentally to perform your best.

Embrace challenges: View challenges as opportunities for growth.

Enjoy the experience: Make time to explore and enjoy the local culture and community.

An international internship offers unparalleled opportunities for growth. By approaching it with intention, engagement, and reflection, you can transform this experience into a significant stepping stone in your career. Make the most of it, and let it shape your professional journey.

Key takeaways

  • Unmatched opportunities: International internships offer a wealth of benefits, including cultural immersion, professional growth, and personal development.
  • Strategic planning required: Finding the right internship requires careful consideration of various options, including program providers, university connections, global companies, or independent searches.
  • Tailored applications: The application process demands attention to detail, understanding international standards, and tailoring your CV and cover letter to the specific role.
  • Challenges to overcome: Be prepared for challenges such as visa requirements, language barriers, and adjusting to different workplace cultures, and have strategies in place to overcome them.
  • Maximise the experience: Set clear goals, engage actively, adapt to local culture, reflect on your experiences, and plan for your future to get the most out of your internship.
  • Long-term career impact: An international internship is more than a line on your CV; it's a stepping stone in your career, providing skills and connections that can shape your professional journey.
  • Embrace the journey: View challenges as opportunities for growth, enjoy the local culture, and let the experience shape your path as a global citizen.

Get ready for your global education journey

Inspired by the potential of international internships and ready to enrich your study abroad experience? Our platform can help you turn aspirations into a global education journey.

With comprehensive guidance, we'll assist with:

  • Finding the ideal study abroad program that includes internship opportunities
  • Selecting universities with strong connections to global industries
  • Navigating the application process for both studies and internships
  • Overcoming challenges like visa requirements and language barriers
  • Maximising the learning, cultural immersion, and long-term career benefits

Don't just dream about studying abroad with an international internship, make it happen! With our passion and expertise, a world of academic growth and professional development is within reach.

The world is waiting - take the first step with us.

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Say hello to Chris, the Content Manager at Edvoy, based in Manchester. He enjoys running, reading, walking his dog, and ...Read More

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