So, you’re interested in an internship! Maybe you just want to explore an area of interest, or perhaps your university degree requires that you do one. But if you’re not really sure what they’re all about, or where to start, no worries! Here’s the skinny on what you need to know for a modern, relevant and affordable internship experience.
What are internships all about these days?
Internships are not what they used to be! Making coffee for office superiors? No way. Mundane photocopying? Nope. And if you think they must be expensive and require a long-term commitment, then think again.
Modern internship opportunities are focused on experiential learning, that’s designed to put your personal and professional development first. Experiential learning internships are purposefully structured to build practical skills, so shorter, high-impact experiences are possible.
Why do we love shorter, high-impact experiences? Because they enable intern abroad opportunities to be more accessible, budget-friendly and flexible.
What does experiential learning mean?
Experiential learning means that, while you’re getting some hands-on experience through an internship, you’re also reflecting on it. This speeds up your learning because instead of just going with the flow and taking each day as it comes, you’re intentionally putting your thinking-cap on, asking yourself some analytical questions, and getting your brain engaged.
Experiential learning is important because employers are more interested in hearing about what you learned (and how it adds to your value as an employee) than what you did.
Intern Abroad HQ directs experiential learning, to ensure that your reflections are focused and geared toward practical outcomes. While it’s great to reflect on your experiences, it’s important to have structure so that you don’t lose track of what you’re aiming to achieve.
To help frame your experiences in a way that’s relevant to professional development, Intern Abroad HQ provides reflective exercises that are linked to specific themes (such as communication, problem solving, and time management for example). Therefore, your own personally meaningful experiences are practically linked to desirable employability skills.
Without the right guidance, it can be hard to talk about how your experiences translate into specific skills. Many people struggle to overcome this “articulation challenge” after interning abroad, which can be a disadvantage in a competitive job market. Rather than just listing an internship on your resume, the experiential learning approach helps you to build the confidence and know-how to talk professionally about why your internship was meaningful.
Developing this ability is perhaps the most crucial outcome of an internship abroad.
What benefits can I expect from interning abroad?
Employers aren’t just looking for someone with text-book learning. There is more to being employable than just being book smart. Can you adapt to new situations? Can you think on your feet and respond appropriately? How well do you socialize with others? These kind of competencies (“soft skills”) can be developed through internships, as they provide real-world settings where trial, error, learning and reflection are encouraged and supported. A genuine employment setting is not the most ideal place to “find yourself” – especially with a professional reputation on the line. But internships provide a safe environment to gain insight, learning, and prepare for your next steps.
International internships take cultural intelligence to the next level. Due to an increasingly globalized workforce, job mobility, and the growing need for cross-cultural communication, interns who situate themselves abroad gain the advantage of acquiring cultural intelligence. This means that you’re motivated to experience multicultural environments, you’ve developed self-awareness to understand your own culture better, you are open to different perspectives, and have demonstrated the ability to adapt and collaborate effectively within diverse teams. Gaining these competencies (and even second language skills) is an indispensable career asset.
Internship experiences can help to set you apart. After completing an internship, you’ll have unique and interesting content to draw from when answering job interview questions. If you’re ever asked about challenges you’ve overcome, times you’ve taken initiative, achievements that you’re proud of, or personal attributes and skills that you can bring to a job - you’ll have a goldmine of relevant content up your sleeve, regarding real-world workplace experiences. Apart from enhancing your resume or professional portfolio, you’ll also have increased access to international networks, friendship, and mentors within your field of interest.
Why are experiential learning internships unpaid?
Unpaid experiential learning internships are tailored to benefit the participant, so that you can develop your soft skills and become better prepared for future employment. But don’t be fooled by the word “soft” to think that “soft skills” are easily acquired or unimportant! The learning and skills that you acquire during an internship should be universally transferable to a variety of employment and social settings. These are the type of skills that will build your confidence, adaptability, ability to communicate, and equip you for a resilient career over the course of your professional lifetime. Unpaid interns do not replace regular employees, so it’s typical to shadow and assist under close supervision of professional staff, who can guide you, answer questions, and provide more insight and experience into a career path.
How do I find an affordable internship?
Intern abroad programs typically have fees, which cover costs such as your meals, accommodation, and 24/7 support. However, affordability and transparency are essential, as it shouldn’t cost the earth to invest in your development. Intern Abroad HQ works directly with local organizations to pass on the most affordable intern abroad opportunities.
How can I secure my internship?
Intern Abroad HQ offers internships year-round, so no matter what your schedule is, we can get you on-board. After reviewing our internship destinations and thinking about what program you’d like to do, the first easy step is to apply. It doesn’t cost anything to apply, and being accepted doesn’t mean you’re obligated, but it helps us to outline the next steps and provide further guidance to you. If you’re not sure and just want to chat, reach Intern Abroad HQ though our contact page. We look forward to getting your internship experience on track!