When we think of spending time abroad we often think of gap years – of grand journeys, the crisscrossing of international borders, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
But that’s not the only way to see the world. Doing an internship abroad is sure to broaden your horizons while boosting your CV. You’re guaranteed to make valuable friendships and have some unforgettable experiences along the way.
Internships are a great method to gain experience and develop your skills, both to increase the likelihood of landing the job you want and for working out what it really is you want to do with your life. They’re often invaluable routes into a certain profession and can be well worth the investment of your time.
Going abroad only enhances the benefits an internship can bring.
Here we take a look at five reasons why.
1. Your CV will get a boost
Employers love to see internships on a new graduate’s CV because it demonstrates two main things:
- First, it shows the candidate has already gained some experience of the workplace, observed how things are done, and been able to handle the responsibilities given to them by an employer.
- Second, it speaks of your motivation and desire to work in the field – and to succeed.
These two factors are made significantly more impressive if the internship listed on your CV is international.
Employers are not likely to take on an intern from another country unless they have something great to offer. And interns themselves are hardly likely to go abroad unless they’re serious about gaining experience, improving their skills and sketching out a future career.
Beyond that, you’ll be closer to landing any job that requires an awareness of the global context or knowledge of international affairs.
If you want an internship to stand out on your CV, make it international.
Above all, make it good. Writing a CV is easy. Writing a great CV is another matter.
“Thoughtlessly listing past experiences in a chronological order simply won’t cut it anymore,” says Lukas Richthammer, Senior Client Consultant at Graduateland, who works closely together with HR executives in companies like Red Bull, Google, and ECB. “Your CV is the one place where you can put your skills and motivation into context. Don’t jot down generic responsibilities when you can tell a story about a project you worked on, how you contributed, and what the outcome was.”
And if your stories are international: hey, even better.
2. Widen your skill set with an internship abroad
Listing international work experience on your CV demonstrates to recruiters that you take your career seriously. It also tells them that you have more to offer than the average candidate.
Internships may be the norm in some industries and fields, canceling out the competitive advantage that interns hoped to get in the job market. This won’t be a problem for those who have taken an internship abroad.
International experience implies the candidate can boast of a different set of abilities – qualities and interpersonal skills which are highly valued in the workplace:
- Communication: one of the major difficulties of going abroad is communicating with locals, which can be a challenge both linguistically and culturally. Your ability to make yourself understood will get a major boost by living and working internationally.
- Personal confidence: the ability to self-motivate and be productive when working independently is increasingly important in the modern workplace. Rising to the challenges of working abroad will give your confidence a big lift.
- Adaptability: working abroad entails making sacrifices and stepping outside your comfort zone. Moving to a new country teaches you to be resourceful and make the most of positive change.
- Resilience: taking the plunge and setting off for a new country will not come without a few difficulties. Taking these head on and coming out the other side smiling will prove an invaluable quality in the future.
These skills won’t just be handy when looking for work. They will help you succeed as a student and will be valuable to you in a number of ways throughout your life.
3. You will have started to build an international network
As a student, you may not be much interested in your ‘professional network’. In that case, you’re probably unaware that you’re already building one. All your relationships and friendships with fellow students and teachers may one day present you with a precious opportunity. When working abroad, you won’t just get to know the locals. Most likely, you’ll find yourself part of a community of expats, brought together by a common experience as ‘foreigners’. You may not be the only intern working temporarily in the country to gain experience before returning home.
As of 2016, there were over 50 million expats worldwide according to a recent report, with the figure growing year on year. This expat community is likely to be very international, meaning you’ll get to know people from a wide variety of countries beyond the one you’re working in. United by a common experience of living and working in a new country, these friendships can be some of the strongest you make and may last you a lifetime.
4. An internship abroad will broaden your horizons
Traveling the world may sound romantic and exciting. But one of the downsides of being a traveler is that you’re always on the move. As a tourist, you can never really get to know a place. You turn up, see the sights, spend a few nights in a hostel or Airbnb, and then move on to the next destination.
The only way to truly get to know somewhere is to live and work there.
Doing as the locals do.
By forming part of a society, rather than just observing it, you’ll gain another valuable skill: cultural fluency. Future employers will be attracted to candidates they can rely on to get on well with others, no matter who they are, and demonstrating cultural fluency will show you can be trusted with foreign stakeholders and clients. Exposing yourself to a foreign culture helps you understand your own, and increases your empathy, tolerance, and sociability. (All things that help reduce stress and manage busy workloads.)
In short, you’ll come home a better person than the one that left.
5. You get to try out a profession – and a country
One of the best reasons to take on an internship is that it gives you the chance to try out a profession before you commit to pursuing a career in it. There might be several different directions you can take your degree after you graduate. It’s certainly worth trying one out before you find yourself navigating the job market. More than that, an internship gives you a taste of the world of work, allowing you to steer your future career in a direction that interests you and suits your skills.
If there’s something you love – or something you loathe – about your chosen field, you’ll soon find out. The same goes for where you work. By going abroad you will get a taste of a different working culture, different social norms. You might like it so much that you stay – or, if not, you’ll know what it takes to find work there, and can always widen your job search later in your career.
An internship abroad will teach you a lot about what you want from the world of work. Living abroad will teach you a lot about what you want from life.
An internship abroad: The time is now!
Taking on an internship is a big decision. Deciding to do that internship in a foreign country is an even bigger one. But it’s not something you’re likely to regret. We hope to have shown you already how an internship abroad has the potential to be a lot better than doing one at home. In truth, the biggest regret you’re likely to have is not doing one.
By doing an internship abroad you’ll be able to stand out from the crowd, while many of your fellow students might not even be gaining work experience at all. What’s more, in our global, interconnected world it’s easier than ever. Simply browse a career platform like Graduateland, where new internship opportunities in countries across the world are posted all the time.
What are you waiting for?