Finding an internship abroad
Doing an internship abroad has many benefits, the most important of course being the professional experience gained by working in your chosen field. However, an added benefit is that you will have international work experience, which will help you stand out from the crowd in the future.
Choosing the right internship
Before you start searching, you need to think hard about where you want to go and what you want to do. Choosing the right internship which matches your goals and future career plans is important. For example, if you want a marketing internship, consider whether you’re interested in content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, etc. Read up on what each position requires, and choose the one that excites you the most.
You also need to think about where you want to go. If you want to learn a new language (which also looks good on your CV), or if you have a fascination with a certain culture or country, then choose your destination accordingly. Even if location isn’t important, you might still prefer to live in a big city over a small town, or vice versa.
Finally, consider what aspects of the internship are important to you. Do you need a salary? Or can you work unpaid? Would you prefer a multinational company, or a small start-up? All of these are important questions to ask yourself and will shape the kind of internship you ultimately choose.
How to find an internship
Searching for an internship can be difficult, and there are several options.
- You can go through a company that specializes in placements. This has the advantage of a guaranteed placement and less work. However, they also tend to be expensive. When choosing a company, make sure you read reviews. As well, be aware of everything included in the price. For example, most companies will include visa and bank account assistance, which are services you can take advantage of.
- You can search for an internship by yourself, using companies that specialize in student internships. This requires a lot more work on your part, as you will have to send out CV’s yourself. It is the more economical choice, but there is no guarantee you will find the internship you want.
- You can apply directly to companies. This is a good option for large, multinational companies, especially as they usually have their own hiring platforms and processes. However, it can be more difficult to find opportunities, and there is generally more competition.
- Another useful resource is EURES, which helps young people aged between 18-30 years old find work in Europe.
It’s generally a good idea to try and find an internship before you leave the country as it allows you to be more flexible about where you can go. As well, it will give you plenty of time to prepare your paperwork and apply for any grants or funding before you leave.
What to do during your internship
Your internship is good for more than just making your resume look better. You should also try to learn as much as you can from your colleagues and boss. Ask questions, volunteer for extra work, and do relevant research in your free time. If you’re working at a small company, then try and be proactive and try to find new ways to do the tasks you’ve been assigned. If you’re working at a bigger company, the best thing you can do is work hard at your tasks, even if you don’t like them or find them boring.
What to do after your internship
When you finish your internship, you should add your colleagues and boss to your LinkedIn, and write recommendations for them; they might return the favour. In addition, you should ask your boss if you can use him as a reference and if he’ll use you as a reference. You should also make sure to update your CV and LinkedIn, while the experience is still fresh in your mind. Make sure to add all relevant tasks and duties, as well as noting down any achievements or accomplishments you had. Be specific about what you did and how it helped the company. Also consider using concrete number, for example, “contributed to the growth of the customer base by 15%”
Tips and best practices
- Read your work contract carefully, so that you are aware of what your rights are. It’s also important to know what your hours are, what is expected from you, and other privileges, such as time-off or sick pay.
- Make sure you’re aware of all grants and funding opportunities available to you. Talk to advisors and coordinators, or anyone else who can help you. Do your research
- You don’t have to feel forced to choose an internship you don’t want to do, just because you majored in the field. For example, if you majored in finance and accounting, but you’re passionate about marketing, then go for it! Internships are a good way to find out what you like with hands on experience.
- Before you apply, make sure you’ve written a good resume which is up-to-date and well formatted. Even if you don’t have much experience, it doesn’t mean you’re resume has to be plain and empty. Consider doing a functional resume, which focuses on your skills, over a chronological resume, which focuses on your experience.