Whether you’re a recent graduate, current student, or a young professional with the New Year’s Resolution to travel more, I highly encourage an internship abroad. Why not make your travel dreams a reality, while also gaining new professional skills and helping your resume stand out?
You may be asking yourself why an internship abroad is so valuable. While it’s true, an internship in the States can be of great significance, why limit yourself to opportunities only within your own country? Not only is interning and living abroad attractive for new employment, but the sheer experience will stay with you for the rest of your life.
As someone who recently came back from this life changing three-months, I’m a definite advocate for packing up and taking your resume global. The reasons to intern abroad are endless, so I’ve narrowed it down to my top 10 reasons why you should go abroad for an international internship.
No. 1: Set yourself apart on your resume
One of the biggest professional benefits of interning abroad is to increase your marketability and help you stand out to future employers. Having a meaningful experience abroad, both personally and professional, will automatically set you apart from others applying to the same position. Not to mention, it will add a global layer to your resume, and could even lead to a job offer working in another country.
No. 2: Fine tune your intercultural skill set
Because working abroad in a foreign country means working with local employees, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the culture directly from those who live there. You will gain first-hand experience and develop your intercultural skill set and global sensitivity, that is key in any field.
No. 3: Develop a global network
Any positive internship provides worthwhile connections to help you build your network. Through an international internship, you’ll be able to expand your contacts globally, and use those to help you land a job in your host country. At the very least, your boss could be a recommendation for future jobs.
No. 4: Trial run your career field
An internship, regardless of the location, is a great opportunity to test run your career path. Going to school and learning about your field is one thing, but gaining practical experience and seeing what the job is like first-hand is another. Why not test run your experience in another country so you can build your resume, see what the field is like, and also have some fun living somewhere new? Remember, even if you don’t like your internship, it is beneficial because at least you can cross off what you don’t like and help you narrow down your ideal working environment. Also, if you don’t like it, at least you’ll be exploring the country at the same time so it won’t be so bad!
No. 5: Increased or new language skills
Even if you’ve studied a language for years in a classroom, interning abroad in another country enables you to learn a new set of vocabulary. Whether its learning how to communicate more efficiently or politely with customers, discussing specific work related topics with colleagues, or learning and using technical foreign vocabulary related to your industry, this real-world practice will increase your proficiency. Not to mention, it will look great to employers!
No. 6: Independence
Much like first going to college or studying abroad, interning abroad requires a certain level of independence. Depending on how you find your internship, there will be things to arrange before you leave the country such as a passport, visa, housing, etc. World Internships was helpful with creating a checklist of what I would need to go abroad, but other organizations may not provide that same luxury. Not to mention that navigating your host country is up to you entirely and you will have to rely on yourself to resolve difficulties that arise in your professional development and throughout your every-day travels.
No. 7: Adaptability
Bottom line, when you live in another country, you will need to learn how to adapt. You will have to familiarize yourself with their currency, transportation, food, language, and more. Additionally, being in an international office will be entirely different from the typical American office environment. Moving to a new country forces you to learn how to acclimate, and doing so shows new flexibility on your part and a willingness to learn to future employers.
No. 8: Travel
This one is pretty self-explanatory and is a main motivator for people choosing to go abroad. You should do an internship abroad because you want to see the world, immerse yourself in new cultures, and meet new people. Check places off your bucket list and gain experience all at the same time; truly a win-win.
No. 9: Confidence
Moving to a new city, never mind a new country, is a big challenge. It is intimidating to pack your bags, temporarily live in a new place where you don’t know anyone and then try your hand in a real office for the first time. All the frustrations and challenges you will face throughout your time abroad, both within your work environment and during your travels, will help you gain confidence in your own abilities. Trust me when I say, it is an incredible feeling to be confident in knowing that you can move to a new place, create new relationships, get around and make the most of a travel experience, all the while still making a great impression to your employers! My internship experience was my first time out of the country alone, and now I know that I can start over anywhere and find my way.
No. 10: Step outside your comfort zone
Last, but not least, interning abroad is one of the best ways to step outside of your comfort zone. Going beyond your typical every-day and focusing on new professional challenges in a foreign country is an incredible opportunity for personal growth. Living abroad is an unbelievable way to develop qualities you can use throughout your life that make you more adventurous, intuitive, and patient. When you learn to go outside your comfort zone, you can benefit by being more open to new experiences, learn to make the most of what you have, and becoming more adaptable overall. Being uncomfortable is a good thing because it usually means you are in the process of something that will make you better.
If you still aren’t on board to intern abroad, try to look at what is holding you back. Are those reasons based off of fear or finances, and will you look back later and wish you had gone?