Internships Abroad

How to Get a Paid Summer Internship Abroad in 2024

Learn how to spend your summer combining experiential learning with life-changing travel through a paid internship abroad.

Pursuing an internship abroad is one of the best ways to gain skills in the field of your choice, and international placements make it easy for you to gain experience from world-class organizations. You’ll also have the opportunity to experience work culture in another country, which will encourage you to step outside your comfort zone, take on new challenges, and pick up transferable skills that will be valuable for your career.

If you’re interested in combining travel with on-the-job experience this summer, read on for a comprehensive guide to finding the international internship of your dreams in 2024.

1. Establish goals

People in the office look at sticky notes on a wall.

Before diving into your search, you'll need to lay out your goals and the things you want to achieve. You can start by asking yourself the following:

  • Where do I want to go?
  • How long do I want to intern?
  • What type of work do I want to do?
  • What do I want to have achieved by the end of my internship?
  • How much support do I want or need through the application and visa process?
  • Do I want to work independently or with a team during my internship?

Knowing what you want out of your experience will help guide your search and will help ensure you find it both fun and useful for your future career.

2. Pick a location

Choosing the country that best fits your professional and personal internship goals can be challenging. There are many fantastic options, and the right fit for you will depend on various factors, like the language you seek to work in, the type of work you are pursuing, and the work culture that best suits you. Some popular countries to intern abroad include:

While these destinations may be the most desirable for most prospective interns, that doesn't mean they're the best for you. We encourage candidates to take on new challenges and find the program that best fits their goals.

Read more: The Best Cities to Find an Internship Abroad

3. Update your resume

Even if you don’t have any job experience yet, having a resume that showcases your achievements will help you stand out to employers offering internships. Some things to include are:

  • Work experience (if applicable)
  • Volunteer experience
  • Classes you’ve taken and grades earned
  • Extracurricular activities and clubs

As intense as it sounds, you should tailor your resume and cover letter to each internship you apply to. Paid internships tend to be highly competitive and employers are unlikely to be impressed by generic application materials. Mirror language in the job posting and be sure to include hard AND soft skills.

4. Begin your search

There are two general paths to finding a paid summer internship abroad. The first is to go through a program provider, who will assist you through the entire process, from placing you with an organization to helping navigate the visa application. The second is to search for and apply to opportunities directly on your own.

Program providers generally charge a fee and many place participants in unpaid internships. It can be rare to land a paid internship through a provider but it is possible. For example, providers like Beyond Academy can't guarantee that interns are paid, however, they do work with companies that have provided everything from stipends to full paychecks. This depends largely on the country's labor laws and individual employers but it doesn't hurt to ask.

If you decide to forgo a program provider, you can search for and apply to internships abroad online. Job search websites like LinkedIn or Indeed are a good way to cast a wide net. You may also want to look at the career pages of companies you like. While interning for a big multinational corporation might be your dream, there will also be more competition. Try to identify some smaller companies that may be willing to sponsor a visa.

5. Start applying

Once you’ve identified your top options, you’ll need to start applying. Since the application process can take some time, it’s important to get started early. You should start your research four to six months before the start date and begin applying for open positions two to three months beforehand. Expect to spend time during the spring participating in interviews.

With your application, you may be asked to include:

  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Proof of enrollment in a degree program
  • Transcripts

Once you have an offer, begin gathering your travel documents!

6. Prepare your travel documents

A passport and boarding pass sit on a backpack.

Before you jet off to your internship destination, there are a few documents you’ll need to secure.

  • Passport: If you don’t already have your passport, you’ll need to apply for one. New passports must be applied for in person.
  • Visa: Paid internships may or may not require you to apply for a visa depending on whether you are paid via a stipend or as a worker. Some countries have specific visas for internships that allow you to legally be paid. You can consult with your employer or internship provider to learn the specifics.
  • Plane tickets: You may want to wait until your visa is approved to purchase your plane tickets unless your visa application requires proof of roundtrip tickets. Be on the lookout for tips and tricks to book cheap flight deals.

To avoid stress, you’ll want to plan to secure your documents well in advance of your departure date. Keep in mind passport and visa processing times can vary and may be slower as it gets closer to summer.

Alternatives to consider

Getting a paid internship can be tricky but there are alternatives to consider if you aren’t successful your first time around. You can look into the following:

  • Internships for school credit: Although you’ll likely be paying for an internship that grants school credit, you’re still getting bang for your buck by knocking out credits while beefing up your resume.
  • Volunteering: This can be a great way to give back and gain experience at the same time. By volunteering abroad in your field, you’ll receive guidance and support as a volunteer and can meet people your age who share similar goals and values.
  • Scholarships: Luckily, scholarships aren’t just for studying abroad. You can find funding to help pay for an internship program and other associated costs should you be unable to get a paid internship.

Land your dream paid internship abroad

International internships give you the chance to see your field from a global perspective, learn from experts, and enjoy new and exciting experiences as you adapt to life abroad and immerse yourself in another culture. Put summer 2024 to work this year and gain skills that will stay with you no matter where you go.

Take the next step in planning your 2024 internship experience: