Job Seeker Blog

International Internships
Drs. Ron and Caryl Krannich One of the best ways to break into the international employment arena is to acquire an international internship in the United States or abroad. With an internship you may gain valuable international work experience as well as develop important contacts for gaining full-time international employment. Many internships also provide unique opportunities to study and travel while working abroad. Sponsoring internship organizations normally arrange all the details for placement, travel, and accommodations. Upon completing the internship, participants can expect the sponsoring organization to arrange for letters of recommendation from the interns' employers.

The World of Internships

International internships come in several forms. Ideally, most people would like to find paid internships with organizations overseas that might lead to being hired on a full-time basis. Some internships come in this form, especially those for business, engineering, and science majors sponsored by the International Association of Students in Economics and Business Management (AIESEC) and the International Association for the Exchange of Students of Technical Experience (IAESTE). These are the two premier international internship organizations that offer paid internships with major international companies.

Most internships, however, tend to be nonpaid, volunteer positions sponsored by colleges and universities or nonprofit organizations. Many of these internships require enrollment, tuition, or program fees to participate in the program. Some of these internship experiences are basically study abroad programs which include a short work experience. Most such programs are designed for students in linguistics, social sciences, and the humanities. If sponsored by a college or university, students can usually earn academic credits while participating in the internship program. A three to twelve-month internship program may cost participants between $4,000 and $8,000, including international transportation, insurance, visas, and room and board. Like many volun-teer positions, these internships may involve basic living and working conditions, such as participating in homestays and workcamps.

Other international internships are based in the United States with nonprofit public interest, education, and research organizations. While these groups give interns an opportunity to work with important international organizations and issues, they involve little or no international travel. Many of these internships will involve basic research, copyediting, and clerical tasks, but they also offer opportunities to attend seminars, conferences, and make important international contacts.

Many internships are for two to three-month periods while others run for six to twelve-months or coincide with regular or summer college semester programs. Others may be flexible, depending on the individual intern's interests and skills. Many internships can lead to full-time employment with the sponsoring organization.

Most international internship programs tend to be centered in Washington, DC, the center for hundreds of government, nonprofit, and consulting organizations involved in international affairs.

Internship programs typically have application deadlines and several charge both application and placement fees. Some require an application package consisting of a resume, transcript, writing sample, recommendations, and a letter of availability and interest. Be sure to check Web sites first for detailed information and then call, fax, or write the organization for current application details.

If you are interested in an internship or volunteer position with an organization involved in the international arena, do not restrict your search efforts only to the organizations included in this chapter. You should be creative, aggressive, and persistent. Many of the organizations and employers listed in previous chapters, especially nonprofit organizations and consultants, are open to enterprising individuals who approach them with a proposal for an internship. In other words, you can create your own internship by directly approaching an organization with a detailed proposal. Do your homework on the organization. Identify what knowledge and skills you can bring to such a position as well as the experience you hope to acquire from such an experience. You may be surprised how many employers will be interested in your proposal. In the process you will gain invaluable international work experience specifically tailored to your needs and long-term international career goals.

Articles in this series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Eight

Excerpted from "Jobs For People Who Love to Travel" and "International Jobs Directory" by Drs. Ron and Caryl Krannich. Impact Publications, 9104 Manassas Drive, Suite N, Manassas Park, VA 20111, Tel. 703-361-7300, Fax 703-335-9486, E-mail: college@impactpublications.com. Available through Impact's on-line career and travel bookstores: www.impactpublications.com and www.ishoparoundtheworld.com

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