Go Abroad With Your Internship
One of the most exciting types of internships you can consider is the international internship. Most international internships are only available to college students, but some high school students can also get involved with international programs. Not only will you be gaining valuable experience (and in some cases, earning a bit of money), but you'll also have the chance to explore the world.
Internships versus Volunteer Positions
If you want to see the world as you work in an industry that interests you, internships and volunteer programs (like the Peace Corps) are probably both options you're considering.
There's a lot of overlap between these two types of programs. In most cases, internships are much shorter programs, requiring only one semester of work (so, about three months), while volunteer programs require a much longer commitment. The length of time you'll be required to participate in the program, though, really depends on the specific program that interests you.
College credit is also a major difference. Almost all colleges offer credit for internships, but not all offer credit for volunteer positions. If the opportunity is related to your major (for example, if you're majoring in religious studies and are considering volunteering as a missionary), your college may offer credit. Every situation is different.
Volunteer positions, however, are usually less expensive for students. As an international intern, you may have to pay for your own travel expenses, and most colleges require you to pay tuition if you want to receive credit toward a degree. Volunteer opportunities certainly don't require you to pay to be involved, and many organizations cover your travel costs. Some even offer free room and board and a (very) small monthly stipend to help cover your necessary living expenses. Also important to keep in mind: if you take a volunteer position, you are probably able to defer your student loans for the duration.
Benefits to Becoming an International Intern
As an international intern, you'll get all the same benefits as a typical intern, as well as some others:
- The Opportunity to Travel: International interns get to see another part of the world, often for little out-of-pocket costs (thought it depends on your program).
- Transition to an International Job: If you want to live and work in a foreign country, there can sometimes be hoops to jump through as an immigrant. An internship program that's already federally approved is your foot in the door to moving into a full-time position with the company and thus, being legally allowed to live in your country of choice.
- Learning Another Language: Working in a foreign internship gives you the chance to hone language skills, which is impressive on your resume.
International internships are often offered at college-run programs, so when you travel to a foreign country for your internship, you'll be able to do so with other students in the same situation. It's a lot less scary to take a short-term position in a foreign country if there are others in the same boat as well as an on-site director to help guide you through the process.
Where are International Internships Available?
International internships are offered throughout the world. They're most prevalent in Westernized countries and the exact locations available to you depend on your desired field.
"International" internships are also offered at locations in the United States, especially Washington, D.C. While these internship options don't truly having you traveling to another country, they do give you the chance to work in an international business setting. This is a great option if you want to explore opportunities outside of the traditional internship but aren't ready to leave the country. Since you'll be staying in the United States, these "international" internships are also more affordable in terms of travel expenses.
Where can you find international internship opportunities? Start by seeing if your college offers any internship exchange programs - many do. From there, you can explore options with the government, non-government organizations (like charities and non-profits), private companies with international headquarters or offices, international organizations (like the United Nations), and religious organizations.
International Internship Timeline
While many internship programs accept students on a rolling basis or don't have an application deadline (they just close their doors when the position is field), if you want an internship in a foreign country, the timeline to make it happen is much stricter. Most international internship programs have deadlines six to nine months in advance, since you need time to not only apply for the position and a passport, but also to get your paperwork in order.
Quick Fact: It normally takes four to six weeks to receive your passport, but it could take much longer if your local office is overwhelmed with requests, so apply at least three months in advance.
- International internships and international volunteer opportunities both have pros and cons. Consider both if you want to see the world while also gaining work experience.
- You can find international internships through your college, as well as through outsides sources.
- Most international interns are part of a program with multiple students participating, which makes it easier to travel abroad for an internship.
- International internships are available throughout the Westernized world, as well as in the United States in Washington, D.C.
- Apply for international internships early. It takes time for the paperwork to process.