When I was in university about five years ago, most of my classmates took summer internships in finance, consulting, or marketing back in their hometowns or perhaps New York or Washington D.C. A few of my more ambitious peers were looking overseas for opportunities, but usually wound up in the same places: London, Beijing, or Madrid.
These international internship experiences certainly set them apart from the crowd, but there were others of us who took our overseas experiences to the next level. We found roles in companies and NGOs in Nairobi, Mexico City, Johannesburg, or Jakarta. I found a marketing role in Cairo for three months and then worked in business development for a non-profit organization in Guatemala during another summer.
When it came to applying for jobs after graduation, these experiences helped me stand out from my peers as an independent and forward-thinking risk-taker who offered a different perspective on business due to her off-the-beaten-path experiences.
The experience I gained by interning in unconventional locations was richer not only by virtue of the challenges I encountered living in such a drastically different part of the world, working alongside the locals, and learning Arabic and Spanish, but also because I was tasked with a lot of responsibility. So few foreigners were looking for internships in Egypt when I was there that I was a scarce resource. In my consulting interviews, managing large-scale regional marketing initiatives for a well-known organization in the Middle East stood out and helped me get hired, later launching my international career that's since spanned six continents.
Here are a few recommendations of unconventional locations that offer unique opportunities for the ambitious risk-takers willing to search off the well-trodden path.