Doing an internship while studying abroad can be challenging, but it is absolutely worth it. Many students think doing an internship and studying at the same time means saying goodbye to a social life. With the right internship, you could have fun while doing both! Wondering how to start? Read some advice written by educations.com writers who have done an internship abroad.
Finding an internship abroad
You’ll need a resume or CV and a LinkedIn profile including your study and work experience. Let your international and local friends know that you’re looking for an internship, they might be able to help you find one. Search for internship on LinkedIn and join your school’s career center. You can also ask your classmates or previous students where they did their internships so you can apply to those companies if there are positions.
Another tactic is to make a list of international companies in your study abroad city and call and email their HR department asking about internships. Limiting your search to international companies can be quite helpful if you’re not a fluent speaker of your study abroad destination’s language. If you have a good relationship with your professors, asking them for ideas of where to apply can also be helpful.
Beware of placement services where you will need to pay money to intern at a company abroad. Taking an unpaid internship is one thing, but paying to intern is another!
Applying and interviewing for an internship abroad
Research typical formatting of a CV or resume in your study abroad country. For example, in some countries, it’s unheard of to place a photo of yourself on a resume, while in others it is mandatory. Similarly, some countries expect lengthy paragraphs about your studies and work while others prefer bullet-pointed achievements.
Send your CV with a cover letter or motivation letter. Prepare a persuasive cover letter in which you briefly explain why you want to do the internship, what you hope to learn and bring to the organization how your study or work experiences relate to the internship. Some organizations might also ask for a letter of recommendation.
Send your documents and usually you’ll hear back from them within a couple of weeks. If you’re a good candidate, they will invite you for an interview. Whether you do your interview over Skype or in person, be confident and honest. Research the interview style of your study abroad country. While in Scandinavia it’s typical to be realistic and modest about your abilities, in the U.S. it’s expected that you will project more confidence in what you can do. Every country is different, so be prepared to follow cultural expectations.
Whether paid or unpaid, it is valuable experience
Many companies offer unpaid internships and that might be a bit challenging for the students because they can’t afford living expenses without an income. If doing an internship abroad is important to you but you’re worried about losing out on the income, you can try working a summer job before arriving to to build up savings.
Interning in a different country with a different culture will give you valuable experience and broaden your horizons in addition to building a network and strengthening your CV. Most importantly, you can see what it feels like to work in your field of study and decide whether you want to continue on that path, studying internationally shouldn’t limit you from that valuable experience.
Take your responsibilities seriously
As an intern, you’re supposed to work while learning. Therefore, your tasks probably won’t be too complicated. You should definitely take it as you go and not stress out, but keep in mind that even if you are assigned a simple task, you are responsible for completing it.
So don’t take excessive breaks at work for lame excuses. Instead, try to be helpful to the company you’ve chosen for your internship. You never know, you might get offered a full-time position at the end of your internship, or a good reference from your supervisor could be a stepping stone to a paying job at another local company.
Don’t forget to have fun
Life shouldn’t be all about work and study. You’ll need to take it easy sometimes and have fun. You’ll probably make friends with some of your coworkers, so you can spend time socializing during lunch breaks and work get-togethers.
Don’t forget to hang out with your friends from school on the weekends though! Remember this is a phase of your life that will pass and you should get the most out of it.
Have a plan and be organized
Juggling an internship on top of your studies abroad means that you’ll have to work extra hard to manage your time efficiently. Planning out your work, home, academic, and social responsibilities will help ensure that you don’t end up with a big internship assignment due the same day as a big research paper after you’ve spent a night out with friends.
Your course work should come first, so make sure to be clear about exams and assignments with whoever is supervising your internship.
How to manage your time
After the first week of your internship, you will probably be able to estimate the time you need to spend on studying to meet exam deadlines. You will also figure out what time you should wake up in the morning to reach the office and how much time you need for cooking and cleaning per week.
As soon as you’re able to estimate the time you need to do your chores, study and work, you can make a plan for a week ahead and you’re good to go!
What it feels like to work and study simultaneously
The first week of your internship will be the most exhausting and challenging. You’ll probably feel tired but motivated.
You’ll be learning and growing by taking on two important responsibilities at the same time - in a foreign country. You’ll meet many new people at your company and receive a lot of information about the company in the first week. After that, all you have to do is to keep doing what you’re asked to do and to get some studying done after work or on the weekends.
Doing an internship while studying abroad is challenging but it’s a great way to get international work experience and immerse yourself more fully in your study abroad destination!