There are no two ways about it; this is a difficult time to be looking for a job. In both the U.S. and U.K., over 50% of new university graduates are unemployed or underemployed. It is more important than ever to find a competitive edge when applying for a new job. It is crucial to have skills and experiences on your resume that make you stand out above the rest. Considering that fewer than 2% of all university students in the U.S. and U.K. study or work abroad, international internships are one big way to give you a major advantage.
Here are just ten ways an international internship can help you snag that dream job.
1) Businesses are International – Products are manufactured in Bangladesh, software is coded in India, and administrative tasks are outsourced to Indonesia. These days most companies deal with people overseas in one way or another. Having international work experience shows that you understand foreign business practices and cultures.
2) Foreign Language Skills – The French have a saying, “A man who knows two languages is worth two men.” Learning a foreign language makes you a more attractive job candidate, in every industry, in this globalised world. Of course you can take a class but the best way to truly learn a foreign language, the best way to be fully fluent, is immersion.
3) Network, Network, Network – As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Internships are a wonderful opportunity to expand your network. International internships cast that net even wider. Having connections to professionals around the world can be an invaluable asset. You will have an address book of people around the world who work in your chosen industry who can help you find a job or move up at your current job.
4) Hands on Experience – Let’s say you need to have surgery. You’re in the hospital and the staff says, “This man will operate on you. He has read about the surgery many times and studied very hard.” Then they present you with another option, “This man will operate on you. He has read about the surgery many times and studied very hard. He also participated in and watched several operations of the same kind.” Who would you rather have operating on you? The same goes for potential employers. A student may know a lot about the job but an intern has done the job. You have proof that you can take what you’ve learned and apply it in real world situations.
5) What do you want to be when you grow up? – Often the most dreaded question for university students and new graduates. And really, the best way to know if a career is for you is to work in that career. It’s true for recent college graduates and those thinking about making a career change. An internship is the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet and discover if you’re headed down the right career path or not.
6) Wait? There’s a 7:00 AM too? – Ah, the university lifestyle. Breakfast at noon, a few classes a day, coffee with your friends, staying up all night for a marathon viewing of the latest season of Breaking Bad. Sadly, those days don’t last forever. Making the transition from the “university world” to the “real world” can be a harsh wake up call. Sometimes because of your new, much earlier, wake up call. An internship is a great transition into the professional world.
7) High Risk, High Reward– International internships show a sense of adventure and risk taking. Prospective employers need to know that their new hires can adapt quickly and handle unexpected setbacks. Living and working in a foreign country, especially one where English is not the primary language, proves you can do just that. They show that you are not afraid to go against the grain, which is key to creativity, something all employers look for.
8) Many different personalities – Employers want to know that you are able to work with and for all different types of people. Interning abroad show you can adapt to different cultures and styles. It tells employers that you stepped out of your comfort zone and successfully worked with people who are, in many ways, quite different from you.
9) It’s good for you personally – There are numerous professional benefits to doing an internship abroad. But there are also numerous personal benefits. It will boost your confidence, broaden your horizons, and give you fulfilment that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. Traveling abroad teaches you a lot about the people and places you visit, but you often learn as much, if not more, about yourself.
10) It’s Fun! – Okay, so of course it might not be ALL fun. It is work after all. But you won’t be working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And free time means time to explore, travel, eat, dance, sing, sightsee, hike, climb, trek, swim, tour, or anything else that sounds fun to you. And better yet, you get to do all that in a foreign country.