Internship jobs abroad: 3 things international students should know

internship jobs abroad
International internships give you the chance to gain exposure professionally and personally. Source: Spencer Platt/AFP

For students, landing internship jobs abroad is one of the best steps you can take for your future career. It’s a great way to gain real-world experience in a field you’re studying or are interested in, as well as develop soft skills such as how to communicate, present and connect. Plus, you may just find a mentor that not only gets you a full-time position, but career advice for life.

That’s not to distract from the top perk you’d gain as a fresh graduate entering the workforce. A study found that university students are 15% less likely to be unemployed in their first few years of graduating if they had previously completed an internship. 

More than that, having internship jobs abroad will make you stand out to recruiters. Almost 91% of employers prefer applicants to have work experience, with 65% indicating that having relevant work experience to the role they’re applying for is an added bonus. 

This makes landing internship jobs abroad all the more crucial. 

Why should I apply for internship jobs abroad?

From working for a short stint in Paris to taking on a one-year internship in the UK, international jobs abroad offer lots of perks. They provide all the benefits of a local internship programme whilst also giving you the chance to work in industries or fields that may not be in reach to you normally. 

The real value, however, comes in the actual experience of working in an environment that’s unfamiliar to you. If you’re an international student, you’re already likely used to the challenges that come with this: having to settle into a new environment and get used to the cultures and customs of a different country. 

This not only speaks volumes of your adaptability and resilience as an individual, but as an employee, as well. Companies, especially ones with global offices, will highly value this trait. 

google internship jobs abroad

Larger companies like Google generally have more internship jobs abroad open, though these would be more competitive. Source: Noah Berger/AFP

How can I start applying for internship jobs abroad?

While an international internship is a great thing to have on your CV, there’s no denying that it can be challenging. Most countries will require you to have an appropriate visa to legally work and live there, even if only for a short stint of time. Usually, this will be covered by your employer. 

This is where it gets a little challenging. Most employers won’t be willing to cover this cost, as visa fees can be expensive. It’s an even more unattractive prospect when considering the fact that you would only be working with them for a short amount of time. 

However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible. The first major hurdle comes with figuring out the kind of companies that you are interested in, are offering internships that you have the experience for, and are willing to sponsor your visa. Usually, you’d be able to find information about the latter point on the government website of the country your company is based in. The other two, however, will depend on your own efforts. 

If you’re on a student visa, it’s worth discussing internship opportunities with your International Student office too.

Once you’ve narrowed down the internship programmes you’re interested in, here are some points to increase your chances of landing them: 

  • Keep your resume updated, clear and concise. Avoid any basic errors such as in formatting, grammar and typos. 
  • Use your network. It’s always a good idea to reach out to family, friends and professors for this. 
  • Have your transcripts and relevant documents ready. 
  • Start building on your professional contacts. If you have none, ask your professors if they’d be happy to write you a recommendation letter. 

Internship jobs abroad give you the opportunity to travel and expand your worldview, as well. Source: Alex Wong/AFP

Other ways to score an international internship

If you haven’t had any success with the above, you can always go down a different route: that of connecting with an internship programme provider

You connect with a provider that will offer you specific services to connect you with international internships and experiences. All you have to do is give out your information — work experience, preferred countries, length of internship, and more — and the provider will take care of the rest. 

Some even offer additional services, like helping you arrange transport, find accommodation, and help in settling into your new temporary home. It’s certainly a more seamless, stress-free way of getting internship jobs abroad. You will likely have to pay a fee for this.

Another way around this, then, is by choosing a degree programme with a year abroad. Through this, you’re expected to complete an internship or work placement for a certain amount of time as part of your programme. The main advantage here is the ability to use the connections your university will have with companies, industries, and more.