- Doing an internship alongside your studies can have many benefits, including improved language skills, a global network of connections, and real-world professional experience.
- Similar to finding the perfect study abroad program, there are various ways to look for an internship abroad, like finding providers that offer both study and intern programs, browsing job boards, or contacting your host university.
- Knowing how to balance your internship with your studies will be essential during your time abroad. Being flexible with your schedule, open to new experiences, and tracking your progress will be key to being successful.
Wondering if you should study abroad or intern abroad? Why not do both, at the same time?
Pursuing an internship abroad is a great way to gain practical international experience and set yourself apart from other students who have gone abroad. But for many students, the idea of sacrificing an entire semester to go abroad only for an internship (that may not earn them enough college credit to equal a semester’s worth of classes) does not sound like an ideal scenario.
Which is why interning while studying abroad can be a great opportunity! You’ll have the chance to earn real-world professional experience and fill your resume, while you’re already abroad taking college classes.
Though it may seem nearly impossible or far too much work to take on, with the right tools, mindset, and resources, you’re sure to have a successful time studying and interning abroad.
What are some of the benefits of doing an internship, while studying abroad?
Although doing an internship alongside your studies may be a lot of hard work and require strong time management skills, it’ll definitely pay off in the long run. From gaining confidence and professional skills, to connecting you with industry experts from around the world, here are some of the top benefits of doing an internship, while studying abroad.
Benefits of interning, while studying abroad
- Gain confidence and professional skills: Interning even in a country you're familiar with can be challenging, but overcoming barriers thousands of miles away is even tougher. After your internship experience, you'll be sure to gain unique, transferrable skills like strong communication, adaptability, independence, and more.
- Opportunity to earn even more credits: Chances are, your internship will allow you to earn credit towards your classes back home. That'll definitely make your time abroad feel all the more worth it! Just double check with your university advisor.
- Improve your language skills: While working directly in the field as an intern, it's likely that you'll have even more of a hands-on opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and converse in the country's language. Plus, learning a foreign language can increase your chances of getting hired!
- Form a global network of connections: As you study abroad, you're sure to form lifelong friendships. But if you intern too, you'll gain an even bigger network on top of the people you've met studying abroad, and meet professionals in your industry of interest.
Where can I find an internship while studying abroad?
Similar to finding the perfect study abroad program, there are various ways to look for an internship abroad.
Find a program provider that offers both
As international internships become more popular and in-demand, many program providers have taken notice and built additional internship options into their programs. You can now do an internship in conjunction with your studies with barely any extra effort on your part.
While this is by far the easiest option, it may not always work out for you. This option may not be available from any program providers in the country or city you want to go to. Or, they may not be able to find an internship that fits your interests. Of course, there is also the cost factor - most program providers will probably charge a premium for this extra service. CIEE, and SAI are examples of program providers that offer both.
Consult your HOST university
If you are doing a direct exchange or studying abroad at an established local university, there’s a good chance they already have internship programs in place for their local students.
If you’re proficient in the native language, there’s no reason you can’t also make use of these services. When you’re signing up for classes, contact your advisor and see whether there is an internship class available, or try to see if the university can help you arrange an internship for class credit.
Talk with your HOME university
You may be surprised by how much your university back home can help you during your time abroad. Many universities organize international internships through their study abroad office, or work with organizations that do.
Even if they aren’t able to offer direct help, they might be able to at least point you in the right direction! You never know, maybe there’s an alumnus of your university living in your host city who can arrange an internship for you, or a known company that has a history of hosting interns in the past.
Browse job boards
If you’ve contacted both your host university and your university back home and still haven’t landed upon your dream internship, maybe it’s time to turn to the internet!
New internships are posted daily on the job boards here at Go Overseas. You never know what amazing opportunities may pop up!
Change your focus
If the internship is the most important aspect for you, you may want to focus more on finding that internship and then work out the study part around your internship schedule. Maybe you'll take language classes, or sign up for classes at a local university once you know your work schedule. Many internships are only four days a week, so you could easily fit in classes on the free day, in the evenings, or on the weekend.
Still no luck? Consider doing them back-to-back instead.
If you really want to get the most out of both experiences, you might not be able to do them at once. Some internships will be the most beneficial if you work full time, and some classes are rigorous and deserve all of your attention.
If you don’t feel like you can split your time between both, or you just really can’t work out a schedule, consider back-to-backing them. Do an internship in the summer before or after your study abroad experience, or do one semester of each! You’re already there, so why not get the most out of it? You’ll get to maximize your time in the country and get both a study abroad and intern abroad experience on one flight ticket.
How do I balance an internship and studying abroad?
Now that you know it’s possible to do both at the same time and where to find an internship, you may be wondering now, “well, how do I actually do an internship while studying abroad?”
We’ve got you covered! Knowing how to balance your internship with your studies will be essential during your time abroad.
Tips for interning while studying abroad:
- Be flexible: Studying and interning abroad could cause some major scheduling conflicts, especially if you end up finding the internship on your own. To make it work, you may have to give up a class you really wanted to take, or do some tricky negotiating with your internship host.
- Follow legal protocols: There’s a fine line between interning and working abroad. In some countries, if you are getting paid you might be breaking the law. (But in some countries if you are doing the work without getting paid, you could also be breaking the law!) Make sure you are following the rules and not overstepping your visa.
- Don’t just settle. Of course, internships are not always going to be glorious and awe-inspiring, but you also shouldn’t be getting taken advantage of. Make sure you’re gaining some actual value from the experience.
- Immerse yourself: Part of the beauty of an international internship is working in another culture. Really delve into your workplace and form connections with people. One of the great things about an internship abroad is that it will probably be an even better opportunity for you to really glimpse into the local culture and experience real local customs. Make the most of it!
- Track your progress. When all is said and done, your international internship experience is only as good as you can sell it! You need to be able to understand what you learned and how you developed. From soft skills to solid accomplishments, track how you progressed and be able to say it in your resume, in interviews, etc.
Ready to study and intern abroad?
So whether you think of it as "studying while interning abroad" or "interning while studying abroad" (take your pick!), there are many ways to work it out so you can rock both at the same time.
The important thing to remember is that it can be done, so don't be afraid of putting yourself out there and doing both. Be flexible and go with the flow, whether that means shifting your class schedule or accepting slightly-odd internship hours. As long as you do your best at both efforts, others will be impressed by your ambition, and you're guaranteed to have a rewarding and productive time abroad.
Good luck with your internship search!