An opportunity to intern abroad means not only gaining relevant industry skills, but also gaining valuable experience beyond just the workplace from living overseas. There are really countless reasons why you should consider spending a summer or semester interning in a different country, but these are 10 of our favorite reasons.
1. Make your resume stand out
Employers do value international experiences. Six out of ten employers around the world give extra credit for an international student experience. It may help you later in your career as well. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that of the biggest 1,000 public and private companies in the U.S., 40% of CFOs had worked abroad.
2. Pave a path to a job abroad
While an internship is not a guarantee of a secured job at that company after you graduate, interning abroad can definitely help bring you closer to a goal of working overseas. It’s an opportunity to gain local experience, and add local company to your resume that will stand out if you are applying to other companies abroad. It’s also someone who can act as a reference for you locally, which may carry extra credibility depending on the industry.
3. Access to unique expertise
There are some lessons that must be learned through experience and are best experienced by going abroad to a specific location that matches your studies and interests. Our students interning in Thailand who work for a local NGO that helps Burmese refugees and Indigenous people of Thailand are not going to have that experience anywhere else. If you’re a surf fanatic, for example, and want a career in the industry, a chance to intern in Australia is an opportunity you don’t want to pass up. It’s home to multiple events on the pro circuit each year and there are more than 2.5 recreational surfers in Australia, putting it on the map as a top surf destination globally.
4. Practice language skills
Being able to practice your language skills outside the classroom is a great experience, especially in a professional setting. Even if you aren’t fluent and your internship is in English, going abroad provides opportunities to practice with native speakers. Annie de Saussure, a PhD candidate in French at Yale University explains that it’s important to think about quality over quantity when it comes to learning a language abroad. Research shows that it’s not just about how much time students spend abroad, but it’s about the quality of interactions in the language. Learning a language requires effort from both from the student and host. So it’s important to seize these opportunities when they present themselves.
5. Access to further professional opportunities
The time spent at your desk isn’t the only benefit to interning abroad. Take advantage of attending professional events, workshops and pursuing other opportunities in your new city. This can be especially beneficial if you are considering pursing a career overseas. Network and start to learn about the local landscape to build a foundation for later down the track when you’re job searching and interviewing.
6. Living abroad makes you smarter
A recent TIME article featured research showing that experience in other countries makes us more flexible, creative, and complex thinkers. Angela Leung, an associate professor of psychology at Singapore Management University has done research on the psychological effects of living abroad. She discovered that people with more experiences of different cultures are better able to generate creative ideas and make unexpected links among concepts. So not only are you gaining skills related to your field while you intern abroad, you are expanding your mind in many ways, perhaps not even visible, while living abroad.
7. Open your eyes to new opportunities
Even if going abroad doesn’t inspire you to move back to that same country or city where you interned, it might put other ideas in your head. Interning somewhere like Australia that does a lot of business with Asia you might suddenly be thinking about careers in the Asia-Pacific region. Or it might make you consider roles and careers back home that work with this part of the world. Interning abroad lets you explore opportunities that perhaps you never had been exposed to previously.
8. Greater cultural understanding
Similar to the point about living abroad ‘making you smarter’ there are other ways going abroad changes you. You can gain a greater cultural awareness from living and interning abroad in your host country. An understanding of another culture and global market also can make you more valuable and marketable to future employers.
9. Experience life abroad as a local
While you can certainly experience a destination with a local mindset as a study abroad student, there are certain things about interning abroad that make it even easier to get into the local mindset. The experience alone of having colleagues who are local, and likely being only one (or one of a small group) in your internship will help set you up to have more local experiences.
10. Step outside your comfort zone
Starting a new internship (or any new job) can be a bit nerve wracking even when you are in your hometown. So yes, pursuing an internship abroad will push you outside your comfort zone and that’s a good thing. Challenging yourself is going to help you grow professionally, and on a personal level. You won’t regret it.