Whether you are still a student and preparing applications for work, or you are a graduate looking to begin your career, you don’t need anyone to tell you that trying to land that first job can be the stuff of nightmares. For a start, you are in competition with the thousands of other university students who have also just graduated from universities around the United Kingdom in specialisms similar to your own. They are also looking to land that first dream job, too.
Aside from the sheer competition, you could also be finding that another barrier preventing you from getting the break you are looking for is the fact that you haven’t got the work experience under your belt that your potential future employers are looking for. Student jobs such as summer jobs or part time work at evenings and weekends are certainly going to give your CV a boost because you will have developed transferable skills and it shows you have been proactive.
But what about if you really want to stand out from the crowd and go into your interview full of confidence, knowing that you have relevant experience behind you? These days, more and more employers are looking to see if students and graduates have taken the time to do internships, and, whilst they do come in for criticism at times, they can also be very useful for your future graduate career.
UK internships are, of course, competitive yet useful and we have already given you some ideas to consider for UK internships. But what about if you want to spread your wings even further and not only stand out from the rest of the competition but really shine? Well, this is where you might want to consider the idea of being an intern abroad. When it comes to percentages of students graduating from university each year, there are not many of you out there who can add international internships to a CV, and, aside from quite possibly landing your dream job, internships abroad - be they paid internships abroad or unpaid - can also give you the experience of a lifetime.
Overseas internships are an investment in your future and there are all sort of exciting destinations you could consider - abroad internships that can take you to some of the most up-and-coming cities in the world. Perhaps you could consider internships in China, for example. Depending on your field of study, for some internships, USA cities might have the best companies to suit you. Whatever the country, internships abroad can have a whole host of advantages for you...but there are also some things you need to look out for, too.
Summer internships abroad - or internships abroad that last for a longer spell - will certainly mean you will acquire skills and experience that just cannot be found in your lecture theatre, workshops and seminar rooms. We are talking practical work experience and life lessons all thrown into one. Whether it is law internships abroad, fashion internships abroad or any number of specialist fields, some internships will be free of charge and others will require you to have some funds to pay for it in the first place. And some will be paid internships abroad whilst others will be all about the experience.
The basic fact is that some internships abroad are going to be more suitable than others and not all of this suitability is to do with money...
A Few Points To Consider Before Embarking On Internships Abroad
Okay, so let’s say you love the idea of leaving British shores and you are really thinking hard about doing internships abroad. Before you take yourself off to some internships in India or embark on some China internships, for example, let’s first of all consider a few factors before you jet off to pastures new to take on international internships:
Is it something you really want to do? Seriously, before you become an intern abroad, sit down and have a think. Is this something you really want to do? Abroad internships are not for everyone - and don’t worry, that’s fine. You just need to be realistic with yourself.
For example, if you are still a student and you are thinking about summer internships abroad, ask yourself first of all:
Am I likely to be homesick? Where’s your head at during term time? If your weekends at uni are centred around heading off home to see friends and enjoy the home comforts of mum’s cooking and washing machine, then you might want to have a rethink about taking off abroad.
Can you handle immersion in a new language and culture? Student and graduate internships abroad are not just about picking up some work experience. Internships in China or internships in India, for example, will involve a whole cultural behaviour that you are perhaps not familiar with. Even international internships in a country where the English language is the main language (such as internships in USA) will require some level of immersion into an unfamiliar world. Graduate internships abroad mean a whole new set of professional and cultural challenges are coming your way and you need to consult your feelings to see if that idea fills you with dread or excitement.
How To Prepare For Internships Abroad
Okay, let’s assume now that you are really keen to do this. Internships abroad, either paid or unpaid, mean you could eventually be an invaluable asset to companies that employ you in the future - but you also need to make sure the actual international international internships are right for you. So before you launch straight in there with your application:
Do your homework.Whatever your field - engineering internships abroad, law internships abroad, for example - you must do your homework on the country you are thinking of going to.
Ask questions to people who have either been to the country previously or, even better, any lecturers or former students who are familiar with the company (perhaps they did the same overseas internships as you, previously).
Daily life What is the cost of living in that country? Whether it is summer internships abroad or international internships over a longer period, can you afford it? With USA internships, for example, you might be in the heart of the business districts of some of the top cities in the US. Can you afford it, financially? You might need to consider practicalities such as transport costs to and from your place of work, for example.
What do these overseas internships offer? There are many companies out there offering extras (or not) for those who want to intern abroad. Check to see what’s on offer on top of the work experience that is being promised. For example, if it’s internships in China, do you get language training? And whether it is paid internships abroad or unpaid, is there any sort of living allowance? Do you need any visas before you leave the UK or is all this arranged for you? Unfortunately, there are some scams out there. This is your internship and you are investing a lot into this. Make sure it works for you by choosing a reputable company.
Is it all work and no play? Internships abroad are as much about experiencing life in another country as the daily work. Check to see if there is spare time - perhaps even organised social and travel activities, too - where you have time to play as well as work. You want to experience the country, too, not just an office or workplace.
Is there a fee? Are they free internships abroad or will you be required to pay a fee before you even set off? If you do need to pay a fee, what are you paying for? Some reputable companies offering internships abroad will guarantee your placements, set you up with accommodation and organise social events and transport you to and from your place of work - so fees are not necessarily a bad thing. And while paid internships abroad are out there, if possible, try not to let the financial side affect your decision too much. Choose the best internship that suits you the most.
Will you get a mentor? You will be assigned a mentor for some international internships so that you can monitor your progress. If you do get a mentor, building up a good relationship with them could help you get employment in the future, either with the same company or in other companies by way of references and recommendations.
Find other interns. Research and try to hook up with other interns living in the country where you want to intern abroad. If they’ve been there longer than you, they’ll probably know good daily survival tips and they can warn you of any pitfalls, too. And don’t forget those who have previously done international internships. You can perhaps find these people either at your university - those who have done student internships abroad in the past or lecturers who have advised students about international internships. Check out Facebook, Google +, Linkedin and Twitter to see if there are any communities or groups that focus on overseas internships and people who either have or want to intern abroad.
Don’t just jump into the first international internships you seeLet’s say you are really keen on the idea of international internships in India because you want to travel around the country, too.
First of all, find out which internships are on offer and what the requirements are for getting a place on that internship. Do your qualifications or interests match?
Does that internship really match your needs for what you want to do in the future? There’s no point going off to do marketing internships abroad if you are not interested in marketing and have no desire to continue along that path in the future. Being an intern abroad must benefit you whilst you are actually doing the internship and in the future, too.
Extend your research on the country you want to go toTravel is one thing but student and graduate internships abroad are so much more than that.
Do research on the key facts of the country - the population, the main cities, languages spoken, standard dress codes and expected behaviours. Look up the key laws that could affect your daily life. This is especially true if you are hoping to do internships abroad in more conservative countries where - particularly females - will need to be aware of accepted dress codes.
Read national and local newspapers from the country you hope to intern abroad in. For international internships, USA newspapers, for example are going to be easier to read than perhaps the Chinese press - but there are lots of English language sources online that you could access. If you already have some knowledge of the language, you could use newspapers and magazines from the country to hone your language skills, too.
How different is the culture of the country you are going to work in? Try to research the customs and ask people about them, too. Internships in India are going to be a lot different to other international internships. USA internships, for example, might not be as much out of your comfort zone. Obviously, actually being in the country will help you to learn more, but it is also good to have an idea about what might be expected of you so the culture shock isn’t so great when you arrive.
International Internships Abroad - Research Tips Immersing yourself into the culture of any foreign country is always going to be a culture shock but some basic points you could research for any internships abroad points such as:
What to wear to work All companies have their own dress code, wherever they are in the world.
How to greet colleagues in work China internships and internships in India, for example, are going to have a whole different workplace culture than what you might already be familiar with in the UK. A few basic ideas about how to greet colleagues - both above and below you - in the workplace will help you along the road to feeling more confident on arrival.
Are there no-gos with regards to conversation topics at work? Ranting about the politics or human rights records of your host country to your work colleagues, for example, is perhaps not the best route to take. Try to keep work conversation professional with both colleagues from that country and your fellow interns from around the world who might have a completely different outlook on life than your own.
How do people address colleagues outside of work? For internationalinternships, USA could be a lot more relaxed in informal situations than if you were doing law internships abroad in countries like China, for example.
All of these points to watch out for before doing international internships abroad are just a few tips for preparing yourself before you embark on a whole new journey that could change your life. Although it might seem daunting, once you have chosen the country where would like to do international internships and the company that will best suit you, there are countless benefits to being an intern abroad, both whilst you are doing the overseas internships and afterwards, too. So, now you’ve done all your homework and research, let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of international internships.
What Are The Benefits Of Internships Abroad?
International internships abroad are great for your CV. As we said above, more and more employers are looking for quality, relevant work experience from graduates, and internships abroad can make you stand out even further as only a small percentage of students will do overseas internships. If you do decide to enrol on student or graduate internships abroad, paid or unpaid, as well as gaining useful knowledge, potential future employers will also know you have an adventurous side and you’re willing to step into the unknown and give something a shot. The ability to accept new challenges whilst developing a broader, international perspective on your industry are all qualities you will be able to demonstrate when you have done abroad internships. Being an intern abroad allows you to experience a different country and culture. Whether it’s USA internships or international internships in India, whatever the country, you are going to be immersed into a completely different culture. Some of these differences will be more marked than others. Internships in China, for example, will open up a whole new world and immerse you in an unfamiliar culture both in the workplace and outside, in social situations. Internships abroad mean you will get to experience aspects of a country that foreign tourists and traveller would never see. Research and sightseeing is one thing but living in a foreign country is a whole different situation. To get the most from international internships, it might be tough sometimes - but always trying to be open to the new and unfamiliar and embracing what is going on around you will lead to you getting more from both your internship and the country you are staying in.
Longer term and summer internships abroad can offer you the opportunity to learn another language. You don’t need us to tell you that a sound knowledge of a foreign language is increasingly valuable as the world shrinks increasingly smaller and businesses work on a global level. Obviously, for abroad internships, USA, Australia and countries where English is the first language won’t provide this opportunity - but internships in China, for instance, can give you a knowledge of Mandarin and this could prove extremely useful to future employers. Your knowledge of the foreign language will be in depth and you should improve in both social and business situations. Imagine being able to add that to your CV when applying for graduate jobs.
Internships abroad will improve communication skills Many employers look for this quality in applicants and they say they find lots of new graduates lack the relevant interpersonal skills needed for the workplace. International internships will force you to learn quickly how to communicate - both verbally and non-verbally - with foreign staff and also fellow interns. Even if you don’t consciously realise you are developing your communication skills, your potential future employers will, and you will be able to transfer them to future graduate jobs. International internships abroad will help you to learn about yourselfSpeak to anyone who has been an intern abroad and they will tell you that you will return from overseas internships a different person.
During internships abroad, there will be times you will have to make decisions and deal with difficult situations.
You will learn about yourself and perhaps become a stronger and more mature person by having to deal with different and perhaps unfamiliar situations.
Overseas internships will be hard work...but you will probably amaze yourself with what you are capable of doing both in the workplace and outside. Day to day living in a foreign country can be a fun challenge and you will be forced to communicate with all sorts of different people.
Ask for help from fellow interns, from your mentors and from staff in the workplace, too. This will help you get the most from your internship and you could learn above and beyond what was outlined for you during your programme. Show people how keen you are to learn and you’ll surprise yourself with how much extra you do learn.
Be ready to accept that you might feel lonely sometimes, even with all that work, travel and making new friends. This is all part and parcel of internships abroad and it all helps to make you a stronger person.
Abroad internships allow for more advanced networking Think about it. As an intern abroad, you could well be working for some of the world’s top companies. Fashion internships abroad or engineering internships abroad, for example, can open many doors and you should be receiving advice and support from some of the best people in your chosen field Networking with people from your host country and with people within your industry can mean you build up valuable contacts for landing a dream graduate career in the future.
Internships abroad mean opportunities for travel - Use your time off to travel around different areas of the country you are staying in. Weekends and spare time can be used to get to know the country further - and don’t forget, you will also be able to communicate more effectively in your foreign language because you are more immersed in it on a daily basis. Again, this helps in broadening your perspectives on your host country. International internships abroad will leave you with memories you’ll never forget Not everyone wants to, or manages to, intern abroad. Abroad internships are a unique experience and it is an experience you can keep with you and use for the rest of your life. Even the days where you might have felt lonely or something went horribly wrong, you will be able to look back at those fondly because they were all a part of your time. Internships abroad will pass by quicker than you think, so, whilst you are in your host country, live it, love it and make sure you go home with no regrets and knowing you made the most of every moment because you are one of only a few people who made the leap to do this. Once you have been accepted onto internships abroad, dive straight in there and make the most of it. Internships abroad mean you could get a graduate job that doesn’t see you start at entry level Yes, being an intern abroad does offer all types of opportunities for learning about yourself and the country you are living in but they are also a future career move for you, too. Completion of overseas internships mean that when you do land yourself a graduate job, you should enter company in a higher spot and on a higher salary. And of course, should you want to go this route, you might even get a job abroad where you can further expand your horizons. There could be lots of competition at home for jobs in your field, so why not go elsewhere where your skills are needed. All that networking while you were doing your internship could pay off in cases like this.
Apply For Internships Abroad
There are lots of companies who offer opportunities for student and graduate internships abroad. At E4S, we advertise some of these. Take a look to see what’s on offer and, if there is anything to suit you, don’t forget to make a note of the recruitment dates so that you don’t miss out.