Being a college student and experiencing that in-between stage of needing an internship but not being able to get one can be extremely stressful. When I found out that my study abroad program offered an 8-week internship, it was the biggest pull for me to say yes to going abroad. How many graduates can say they’ve not only had an internship that fully pertains to their major but also have been abroad and worked in a foreign country? Not many. Trends conducted by NAFSA say that in 2015-2016, less than 2 percent of college students studied abroad out of all students enrolled in institutions of higher education. Even less people than that actually get to work in a foreign country at 19-21 years old. Most students these days come out of college with an internship. That’s nothing new. In fact, many universities require an internship to graduate. What will set your internship apart from the rest? One in a different country.
As a Public Relations (PR) major, I had trouble figuring out whether I wanted to work in house or for an agency. Agency work is harder to get into because it’s more difficult to work your way up, so when I found out that my first PR internship would be with an extremely respected PR firm, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. With clients like Coca-Cola, Aston Martin, McLaren, Club Med and others, I have been able to be part of such a successful team at 20 years old. My internship will pave the way for me to have any PR internship in the future. I have learned more about PR in these past four weeks than I have in my entry-level classes at my university. I have written my first press release with no previous knowledge whatsoever, gone to PR events, discussed partnerships with clients and drafted social posts from research for top clients.
Aside from professional benefits, interning abroad is the one thing that truly makes you feel as though you are living in the country you’re working in. For me, I didn’t feel like a resident of Sydney, Australia until I became a commuter. Waking up, going to that 9-5 job, and then going home has become a routine for me. I have truly felt like a local. To me, the only way you can truly experience cultural change is through actually living in a country. Interacting with not only Australians but also people from the UK, Ireland and many other places, has allowed me to understand what living and working in Australia is like. When employers say, “Tell me about your experience interning abroad”, I will be able to explain how I merged my culture with the local culture and adapted an understanding for the ways of work life in a new place unlike the US. I can talk about how taking walks outside the office is encouraged, how CEOs and other high-level professionals interacting with interns is not uncommon, and how I have been able to jump into a completely new environment head on.
Overall, I encourage you to look into interning abroad. It can change your life, help you acquire new skills, and is something that really helps you discover your professional self.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.