Interning abroad is growing in popularity – and for a good reason. Early on in your career, earning relevant international work experience will help expand your network, gain experience in global markets, and help become adaptable to various work environments.
Working or interning overseas may be a realm you’re unfamiliar with, so we're here to help you every step of the way. Your first big decision is to choose a destination that fits your goals and circumstances.
The benefits of interning abroad
Interning abroad is a fantastic alternative to studying abroad or taking a gap year for career-minded young adults looking to pursue a global experience while also gaining valuable work experience. Employers are taking notice of the many lessons learned through a global experience, and completing an internship abroad will set your resume apart from the crowds by showing your ability to adapt to new and challenging circumstances. The Insitute of International Education of Students conducted an alumnus survey that found that 93% of students with an international internship found work within 6 months of graduating and 84% reported better job skills from their experience interning abroad.
No matter where you go, interning abroad will present you with the opportunity for cultural immersion, and you will grow both your personal and professional network. The real-world work experience will also better prepare you for your future career while also allowing you to try out living abroad.
To maximize the professional benefits of your international internship, be sure to put it on your resume.
Popular destinations for interning abroad
Throughout 2021, Go Overseas community members wish listed internship programs across the globe. We closely follow these trends and what destinations providers are offering internship programs.
Note: The wish list feature allows the Go Overseas community to save their favorite programs for the future.
This last year, China, England, and Spain were the most wish listed countries for internships abroad. These countries, and the rest of the list, are all highly desirable internship destinations, but for very different reasons. To go deeper, we have also highlighted the best cities to intern in based on popular categories.
Just because the city of your dreams didn't make the list in 2022, that shouldn't discourage you. Here at Go Overseas, we encourage you to pursue travel in the destinations that are best for you, and you can find program listings and reviews in cities spanning the globe using the search feature on the internship abroad page.
How to choose where to intern abroad?
The most important decision about your international internship is deciding where to go. This is an experience that will begin to shape your professional skillset, global network, and region of focus, so it’s a critical investment of your time and energy.
Select somewhere accessible to international workers, especially those with relatively little work experience. You don’t want to get your heart set on a location that doesn't accept interns with your passport (or makes the visa process extremely difficult). You also want to narrow your internship search to a country where your industry and job type are needed and where you won't experience a language barrier that will derail your productivity.
How did we pick these locations?
To determine the locations for this article, we looked at various factors, such as the location’s history, cost of living/average salaries, and things to do. We also considered the number of programs offered in that specific country or city.
Lastly, we determined the list based on our own industry knowledge. We want to make sure we're recommending locations that are vetted both by you, the community members, and us, the experts, so that we feel confident the locations included are the best of the best!
Here are 10 cities that make for great internship destinations in 2022. Each will expand your cross-cultural skill set, enhance your language skills, provide relevant regional exposure, and bolster your resume.
Best for finance: London, England
London is a leading global city in arts, education, entertainment, finance, media, tourism, and transportation. During 2021, England had the second most wish listed internship programs here at Go Overseas. Additionally, London is also the world’s most visited city in terms of international arrivals and is the most highly concentrated destination for higher education in Europe.
As one of the most culturally diverse cities on the planet with an estimated 270 nationalities and 300 languages spoken, London is a perfect destination for a prospective intern with wanderlust. Although you’ll be based in England, you’ll readily make friends from around the world and work in a truly global setting, bolstering your multicultural skill set.
The London metropolitan area is the largest in Europe and is a true economic epicenter. With a GDP of nearly $1 trillion, the opportunity for career advancement with companies large and small is nearly infinite. Additionally, English speakers won't have to navigate a language barrier, making it easier to integrate into a job. To legally intern in London, most passport holders from outside the UK or EU will need a Temporary Work (tier-5) visa.
Additional reading: 8 Tips to Land a Paid Internship in London
Get inspired by these internships in London:
Best for tourism: Shanghai, China
One of the fastest developing cities in the world and China’s largest city, Shanghai is ideal for prospective interns who want to fling themselves into the modern heart of one of the richest cultures in the world.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Shanghai consistently has the best-performing tourism industry globally. It’s a top finance destination, with the Shanghai Stock Exchange ranking third among worldwide stock exchanges for trading volume and sixth for capitalization. Shanghai is also the most expensive city in Mainland China and one of the more expensive destinations in Asia. If you're interested in interning in the tourism or hospitality industries, Shanghai should be a strong consideration.
Shanghai is the world's most populous city, with over 35 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. With its size comes an incredible opportunity to experience one of the most internationally relevant and economically booming cities on earth. The city combines a futuristic skyline in the Pudong district with culturally historical landmarks and has one of the most innovative transportation systems on the planet.
While there is a language barrier for those who don't speak Chinese, many international organizations have headquarters in Shanghai and offer English-speaking internships. Additionally, adapting to a bilingual business environment will help set you apart even further in the eyes of many employers. Those interested in pursuing an internship in China will need a Business Visa (F-visa). Apply for the visa on the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China website.
Additional reading: How Much Does it Cost to Intern Abroad in China?
Get inspired by these internships in Shanghai:
Best for Spanish immersion: Madrid, Spain
Madrid, Spains capital city, is home to expansive boulevards, elegant architecture, and masterful works of art. Additionally, Madrid is one of the finance and education centers of Europe, home to 17 universities and 30 research centers.
Those interested in interning in Spain will have plenty of options, as the country has the second most intern programs offered by providers here at Go Overseas. Additionally, Spain was the third most popular destination for wish listed programs in 2021 among Go Overseas users. This data isn't surprising, as Spain is a leader in expat workers, with nearly 15% of its workforce being international, according to Expatica. Spain attracts expats and digital nomads through very friendly visa and taxation laws, making it a great place to find employment after the internship ends.
For prospective interns who are also learning Spanish, the relatively low prevalence of English across Spain makes it a great destination if you want to be required to work in your second language (although there are plenty of opportunities for English speakers). Although the language barrier presents additional challenges in the work environment, being immersed in the language and culture will enhance the benefits of your internship.
There are different types of visas you may need to legally intern in Spain, depending on your circumstances. Non-EU citizens will either need a Student Visa or an Authorization of Residence for professional Internships. Learn what visa fits your circumstances and apply on the Consulate General of Spain's website.
Additional reading: All You Need to Know About Work Culture as a Teacher in Spain
Get inspired by these internships in Madrid:
Best for tech: Sydney, Australia
Australia is one of the most desirable destinations for international travel, with hundreds of thousands of expats living and working in its many beautiful cities. Home to many of the largest Australian companies, Sydney is the country's business center. It hosts around 60% of Australia's tech companies and over 75% of Australia's banking headquarters, making it the best city in Australia to pursue an internship.
The work culture in Australia is another desirable aspect of interning there. Workplaces are typically casual, with humor being an important aspect of communication both on and off the clock. That said, don't mistake a fun-loving culture with a lack of productivity. Australians work very hard and tend to have a team-oriented approach.
Additionally, Australia is a primarily English-speaking country, meaning you won't encounter a language barrier. The working holiday visa scheme provides travelers with a straightforward path to legally work in Australia for at least a year. That said, it's critical to note that you can only work for a single employer for up to 6-months, so pursuing shorter-term internships is required when traveling on a working holiday visa in Australia.
Additional reading: What You Need to Know About the Australia Working Holiday Visa
Get inspired by these internships in Sydney:
Best for fashion: New York, USA
While New York is renowned for being the world's finance capital, the city has far more diversity in terms of industry. With a vibrant art and theater scene, those pursuing an internship in the arts or fashion will find countless opportunities with global leaders.
Successfully completing an internship in New York is bound to make any resume stand out. The fast-paced and highly competitive business environment and multicultural populous will make your professional experience in New York challenging and highly rewarding. Additionally, during an internship in New York, the networking opportunities you'll have will be second to none.
Non-Americans pursuing an internship in New York will need an internship visa, known as a J-1 visa. Since internships are considered a job in the US, this visa does require employer sponsorship, even if the position is unpaid.
Additional reading: The Complete Guide to Internships Abroad in the United States
Get inspired by these internships in New York:
Best for manufacturing: Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is a massive cultural destination in one of the world's most influential countries. Japan is one of the most important global economic forces – especially in automobile manufacturing, electronic goods, and high-tech industries.
While your work experience will be world-class, an internship in Tokyo will certainly challenge you. The work culture in Japan is taken very seriously, and no matter the industry, there will be high expectations for your quality of work.
There are many international companies and diplomatic missions headquartered in Tokyo. Expats commonly live in the central areas of Minato-ku and Shibuya-ku. While knowing Japanese is a huge benefit for internship seekers, Tokyo is a genuinely international city, and there are opportunities for English-only speakers, often centered in these areas. Whether you find an English-speaking or Japanese-speaking internship, expect to be immersed, delighted, and challenged while interning in Tokyo.
You will need a general visa to intern in Japan, valid for one or two years.
Additional reading: How to Get a Job in Japan
Get inspired by these internships in Tokyo:
Best for the arts: Paris, France
Paris, the capital of France, has been one of Europe’s leading centers of fashion, the arts, and science since the 17th century and still makes up a third of the GDP of France, and second in all of Europe, only to London.
The Paris economy is principally driven by commerce and services, but its heart is driven by the arts and fashion. Ideally, for students of French and lovers of culture, Paris is not only an economic powerhouse but a romantic backdrop for personal exploration and creative expansion.
Finding an internship in France can be highly competitive, although speaking French is a significant advantage. Citizens outside the EU will need a visa, although France does offer specific visas like the Student Trainee visa that allows students to find a professional work placement in France. Learn more on France's official visa site.
Additional reading: All You Need to Know About Internships Abroad in France
Get inspired by these internships in Paris:
Best for architecture and design: Florence, Italy
With a low cost of living and bustling culture, Florence is a fantastic city for an internship abroad. As a small, walkable city, travelers can easily navigate throughout the city center quickly and safely. While Rome is considered the economic center of Italy, Florence is the capital of culture.
Florence has a long history of economic development spanning throughout the medieval and Renaissance periods and still going on to this day. While historic workshops still produce leather goods, jewelry, and art, Florence is now also home to many large, multinational corporations. With many historic buildings, there is significant architectural restoration in Florence, attracting those interested in architecture and design.
Most visitors will need an entry visa for an internship in Italy. The study or internship training visa allows students currently enrolled in university to do vocational or internship training in Italy. Review the visa requirements and apply on the PAeSI website.
Additional reading: What to Know Before Learning Italian in Italy
Get inspired by these internships in Florence:
Best for hospitality: Dublin, Ireland
The Irish give hospitality a good name, with Dublin garnering a reputation for its friendliness and welcoming nature. Between its reputation as an economic hub, rich history, and engaging nightlife, interns will join millions of yearly tourists in falling for Ireland.
The hospitality sector in Ireland benefits from a special reduced tax rate to support the thriving industry. This provides even more opportunities for companies in Dublin to expand, also increasing access to internships. With no language barrier for English speakers, working in the hospitality industry in Dublin is a great way to form an international community and gain global work experience.
The Republic of Ireland offers an unpaid internship visa (short-stay C visa) valid for up to 90 days for students currently enrolled in college-level courses. In Ireland, an unpaid internship can only last up to 90 days. However, you can get a paid internship for more than 90 days. For a paid internship, you will need an Internship Employment Permit. Find the right visa for your internship and apply on the Irish Immigration website.
Additional reading: Where in the World to Intern in Social Work
Get inspired by these internships in Dublin:
Best for government-sponsored programs: Seoul, South Korea
As one of the world's largest cities and a cultural and business powerhouse globally, Seoul is an incredible city to pursue an internship abroad. Home to companies like Hyundai and Samsung, Korea has a thriving economy relevant on the world stage. Additionally, Korea is a powerful player in the geopolitical landscape and a close ally to the US.
The US embassy, UN, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government all have internship programs in Seoul designed to provide young adults with highly relevant professional and public service experience.
Visitors interning in South Korea will need a D-4 visa for professional training, which will require an organization to sponsor you. If you're an American, you will first need a C-4 visa to enter the country and then convert that to a D-4. Learn more about the Korean visa process on the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea website.
Additional reading: 10 Cheapest Countries to Live in and Work
Get inspired by these internships in Seoul:separator_solid
Next steps towards your internship abroad
Regardless of whether or not you pursue an internship abroad in any of our top recommended cities, it's important that your search takes into consideration the match between a location's particular industries and your professional goals, your practical language abilities, and your desired region of focus.
Once you've decided on a city, its time to start preparing to ace your internship interview.