Interning Abroad

Making the Most of Your International Internship

In a world where global experiences have become increasingly valuable, international internships have become crucial for students hoping to gain a leg up in their post-graduation job search. Regardless of the industry, an internship abroad could be what sets you apart. From the language learned to the professional skills attained, the benefits are far-reaching. The difficulty, though, lies in how to translate these experiences into resume (and cover letter) -worthy wording, as well as making sure you soak up as much of the experience as possible. For many, trying to put your unique internship and experience abroad into words that “pop” can feel daunting. The good news is that there are a few steps you can take to make the process easier, and we’re happy to get you started.

Make a list…

Before you leave for your adventure abroad, make a list of everything you hope to gain from the experience – professional and personal. Whether it’s seeing Paris from atop the Eiffel Tower or developing your Spanish language skills during your internship in Valencia, be sure to make note of it all. One of the most common “regrets” of those who studied, interned or volunteered abroad is that they wish they had done more. It’s possible that you may not make it to everything on your study abroad bucket list, but it’s certainly worth a try.

Get to know your co-workers…

Establishing connections with your co-workers is important for a number of different reasons. They’re likely to have plenty of knowledge about the industry to pass along, so soak up as much as possible. When one of your co-workers has a moment, ask them if they have some time to talk. They’ll likely feel flattered that you asked, and will be able to provide some help as you get settled in your career.

Take notes…

Be a constant note-taker throughout your internship. You may hear an industry term you didn’t know, or learn something new during a departmental meeting. These types of things can be easily forgotten, so it’s best to jot it down while it’s happening so you can better describe your experiences later on.

Be open…

Keep an open mind. This can be hard – we know – but it’s best to come into the experience with an open mind and a positive attitude. Regardless of your industry, you may be asked to take notes at a meeting, help with some data entry, or participate in some other general administrative tasks. While some responsibilities may not seem especially eye-opening, they will certainly be relevant in future positions. If you’d like to learn more about client relations or social media marketing, speak with your supervisor. They may not put you in charge of marketing for the organization, but they’re sure to give you some opportunities to learn more. In the meantime, put everything you’ve got into the tasks you’re given.

Ask questions…

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! That’s what the experience is for. If you hear a term you’re unfamiliar with or need help understanding a project, speak up! Remember to be aware of your co-workers’ and supervisors’ time though. If everyone is busy, make a note of your question and bring it up when there’s a good opportunity to do so.

Reflect constantly…

Take a couple minutes at the end of each day to take stock of what you worked on, what you learned, what you accomplished, and what you would like to accomplish tomorrow. This is arguably one of the most important things to remember, and it will make updating your resume a whole lot easier when you return home at the end of your internship.

Ask for feedback…

Your supervisor may give you feedback consistently, but don’t be afraid to ask for it as well. Be sure that you understand exactly what is expected of you – ask for clarification when needed and verify that your work is meeting expectations. Speaking up about your own expectations is important as well – explain what you would like to learn during your time with the company and ask what you can do to make that happen.

Have fun!

Gaining experience in your industry should be your primary focus, but it shouldn’t be your only focus. Make sure you use as much of your free time as possible exploring your host country, travelling, and making memories outside the office. The insights you gain through these types of experiences can be incredibly valuable as well. They teach you about yourself and help you grow – two of the best parts of participating in a program abroad.


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