ISA Internships & Service-Learning

ISA Internships & Service-Learning


ISA Internships & Service-Learning provides participants unique experiential learning programs abroad. ISA Internships focuses on finding participants high-quality, customized professional work experiences in a wide variety of career fields. Through our support and professional development resources, participants are able to apply their classroom education in real-world work environments while building their soft skills making them stronger candidates when entering their careers. ISA Service-Learning is designed to engage civically-minded individuals by connecting them with host organizations that provide community support and development. By following a reflection-based curriculum and taking part in projects that contribute to the overall goals of the organization, participants will develop intercultural and leadership skills in an immersive, real-world context.


1112 W Ben White Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
United States


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I decided to spend my summer (winter) in Wellington, New Zealand interning in the Clinical Trials Unit at the Regional Hospital.

I came into this internship with an open mind, because that's basically what all of the reviews I read clearly stated one should do when traveling to a totally different country on the other side of the world. I chose New Zealand because it isn't the typical study abroad spot where I'm from.
I've attached a few photos to this review, mainly of the sky or landscape because I’m continuously amazed each day. Literally, one day you wake up and it’s bright/sunny and feels like summer - then the next it can be dark and gloomy as if the sun never existed. My favourite times of day are when the sun comes up and when it decides to go down especially when it’s not raining.

One of the photos attached is a picture of what looks like an orange/blue lake with smoke rising from it. This is located in a place called Wai-O-Tapu or sacred waters, which is part of a Scenic Reserve that has been administered by the Department of Conservation. I didn’t expect to find such rich Maori culture/history or such diversity when I was planning this trip. I can say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Aside from the obviously beautiful landscape and sky, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing and wonderfully friendly kiwis during my 8 weeks.

As part of the internships BCP, I’ve been in Auckland and Rotorua prior to starting my internship in Wellington and I can say by far, Wellington is a home away from home. In my opinion Auckland reminded me of New York where it’s busy, hectic, crowded, and big. Rotorua was just pleasantly small, but smelled like sulfur everywhere. Last, but certainly not least – Wellington by far is my absolute favorite. It has the small town feel, yet the big city vibe, the downtown life, the crowded traffic, the obvious animosity between strangers, and of course the good-more so than bad weather habits.

I definitely plan on coming back to Wellington, whether it be for a holiday or to work. If ever presented with the opportunity to intern abroad – take it. It won’t be a poor decision. I’ve studied abroad and I’ve also interned abroad. The key difference is having the confidence to be able to venture out without the “supervision” that comes with studying abroad. As an intern, you learn the “ins and outs” of the local life of the country you’re visiting without presenting yourself as a tourist. And of course, you can also do all of the touristy things as a local.

How can this program be improved?
To include excursions especially for the non-Auckland based interns during the time of the internship rather than just during the BCP.
Yes, I recommend this program

Through participating in ISA's Service Learning Program in Valparaiso, Chile, I gained concrete job experience and immersed myself in Chilean culture. ISA providing ample support, introducing me to Chilean workplace culture, answering any questions I had, and helping me market my overseas experience to potential employers. By being able to teach English in Chile, I gained tangible job experience from my time abroad that I have been able to take home with me and apply to my undergraduate degree through getting involved in English language programs in the United States. I would highly recommend ISA Service Learning to anyone looking to have a meaningful and immersive experience overseas!

Yes, I recommend this program
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The summer before doing my semester in Chile, I worked at a day camp. One day, I made "water bottle lava lamps" with my campers. They are simple to make (all you need is oil, mostly-empty water bottles, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer or a similar medicine), but they were a hit. During my semester, I participated in the Service Learning program, and spent several hours a week at a school for children with various special needs. Through helping the teachers with daily tasks and working with students, I got to practice skills from both of my majors (Psychology and Spanish) and familiarize myself in a unique way with another aspect of Chilean culture.

Toward the end of my program, I asked my ISA program staff, and later one of the teachers at the school where I was doing Service Learning, if I could do the project with one of the classes I helped in. Everyone approved. After I found all of the supplies (the Alka-Seltzer the morning of due to a couple of miscommunications), I lugged it all to the school on the bus. Even though they had autism, the kids in this particular class were older than my campers, so I wasn't sure how they'd react. The teacher had told me that they had done the experiment before without the medicine, so I was hoping that the medicine would be enough to hold their interest.

Thankfully, it was. I think it actually made it better that they had done a form of the experiment before, because then they were surprised when they saw how the medicine made it even more exciting. The teacher enjoyed it too, so much so that she asked if I'd be okay with using the extra oil to do it with the kids in the afternoon class as well. (She had some extra water bottles, but the kids in the first class were so into the experiment that they used all of the medicine, so the teacher would go get more during our lunch break.) Although I was skeptical if the younger kids could handle it, I agreed.

As it turned out, the younger kids loved it even more than the older ones. We only had three bottles, so they had to share and take turns, but it still went better than I had anticipated. It was more fun to watch as well, because they were amazed by every step of the experiment, and not only by the medicine like the older kids were.

I'm really thankful that I got to do Service Learning with ISA, and days like the day I did this experiment are part of the reason why. Even though it was a little harder than I thought to prepare for the activity and it didn't go exactly as I had planned in my head, everyone still really enjoyed it. I also appreciated having the opportunity to take initiative and use my previous knowledge and improving language skills to share an appropriate activity that they could also use in the future.

How can this program be improved?
I think having more concrete information before leaving would have been helpful, but I know part of that is a cultural difference in terms of "need to know now" versus "it'll happen."
Yes, I recommend this program

The throughout the internship and my adventures I kept a journal of everything I had done so that weeks from then, I would be able to reread what I had wrote and remember in full detail what had happened. I had a lot of great experiences and lasting impressions. I met some amazing people through my internship that I was lucky enough to work with. One of the stories I have to share was even more important to me by the time I got back to the US. I had the opportunity to hold the boom mic to Maisie Williams interview about a project we were working on (the BFG Dream Jar Trail). At the time, I knew that she was in the Game of Thrones, but I had never actually seen it. The way she conducted herself in the interview and the way she spoke was actually a whole different experience than I ever had before. I knew that I had to watch the Game of Thrones as soon as I got back to the US (considering I didn't have access to previous seasons in London). When I got back to the US, I binged the Game of Thrones in under a weeks time. Every time I saw Maisie Williams' character, Arya, on the screen, I was a bit upset with myself for not watching the show sooner. Then again, I would have been fangirling over how much of a bad ass she is so it's for the best that I didn't. During the interview, I could tell my coworkers were trying to keep their composure as well.

How can this program be improved?
Have more people in the office, or at least there when we get off work so we could pick up mail or discuss problems or even something else with them.
Yes, I recommend this program
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The ISA service learning program in Heredia was disappointing in many ways. The communication isn't clear, I was told I was going to have a roommate, then I was placed alone with a bad host family who was hours late to pick me up and wasn't welcoming, and then once my parents called the company and complained, they switched me to another host family with a girl I had originally asked to be placed with (because she didn't have a roommate either)....
They make it seem like excursions are included, but they're not.
They oversell the volunteer placements, we don't get to do what they tell us we will (we spent a lot of time sitting around) and I also was made to feel very uncomfortable by one of the male workers in the hospital (obviously this isn't the program's fault). One of my friends was placed in a clinic in which she wasn't allowed to do anything. She was obviously upset about this and talked to her placement coordinator and they told her that they constantly tell ISA that the students won't be allowed to observe medical procedures yet ISA doesn't change their descriptions on their website...
The ISA staff (specifically the head of the program at the time) wasn't very helpful or concerned when real issues with placement arose. They're nice people but they're all young and unable to create any real change if there's a problem. They also don't respect you as much unless parents get involved because we're young students.

I enjoyed Costa Rica but the program sucked and I still don't know what half the money went towards.

No, I don't recommend this program


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