Students often ask me about the benefits of an internship abroad. They’re weighing their options carefully because they know internship experience will make a difference in their future job searches, and they want to make the right choice.
The major benefit of an internship abroad is that it will stand out to future employers. Interning abroad signals willingness to take positive risks, comfort in new situations, and status as someone who can earn a position in an international field of applicants. Plus, it will often pique a recruiter’s interest, and you definitely want employers to be curious about you.
I am fifteen years into my career, and when my internship in Dublin as an undergraduate comes up in professional contexts, people are still curious about it. I can’t say the same for my internships in the United States.
Plus, there are different lessons to be learned in a foreign city. Working in a different country will teach you more than hard skills. You will also learn to navigate ambiguity and to communicate effectively across lines of difference. Employers value those skills and if you have examples of how you picked them up, you will surely stand out.
At the same time, choose wisely! Internships abroad aren’t all created equal. Students should seek opportunities where 1) they will earn academic credit, 2) they will have something to show for their work (e.g., a research paper related to the experience or a portfolio of assigned projects), and 3) they will have a local contact besides their supervisor.
The academic credit ensures that the program has a formal structure to facilitate getting the most out of the experience. The tangible result both serves as a support piece for future job and graduate school searches and also gives the student a touchstone when they want to look back on what they contributed and learned. The local support can offer guidance about how to manage any challenges at the placement and help with adjustment to the new environment so that as much energy as possible is focused on excelling in the workplace.
Another benefit of an internship through Arcadia is that we find the placement for you. This eliminates the job search process and gets you straight to the interview. We guarantee every student accepted to our internship programs a quality placement. That comfort goes a long way.
Above all, interning abroad can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Employers will take notice of such outstanding experience on your resume, and you’ll have an experience you will never forget.