Reports from the Field

7 Myths About International Internships Debunked

7 myths about international internships debunked

Internships are becoming an increasingly common practice amongst young people looking to spruce up their resumes and improve their professional marketability. From the network connections to the mentoring opportunities, there are plenty of reasons to dedicate some time to learning as an intern.

International internships are also gaining traction with travel lovers. These opportunities combine valuable work experiences with the chance to explore new places and immerse yourself within another culture.

Despite the growing interest and popularity of internship programs, there are still several internship misconceptions that may cause many individuals to roll their eyes at the thought of participating in an international internship program.

Here are the top 7 Internship Myths Debunked!

1. Interns Only Do Menial Work
You can thank TV shows and movies for this one. Famous sitcoms, like The Office, often portray their interns as lazy or underutilized members of the team. Many people assume, as Hollywood has portrayed, that the job of an intern begins and ends with brewing coffee and making copies. It’s no wonder many individuals aren’t enthused by the possibility of an internship position! How boring!

However, in reality, interns are usually given specific tasks and projects to work on with the guidance of a qualified mentor. They are welcomed as part of the team and given opportunities to develop important skills that can be used in their professional careers.

2. Internships At Startup Companies Aren’t Worth It
Many people assume that the only internships worth taking are the ones at large, established companies, such as Google or Proctor & Gamble. Although these larger companies have excellent, well-established internship programs, smaller startup companies have a lot to offer as well.

Smaller companies offer often their interns greater responsibilities. You’re also more likely to serve the team in a variety of ways, allowing to gain a wider skill set and learn a lot about the industry.

3. Internships Are Only For College Students
More often than not, when people think of international internships, they immediately associate them with college study abroad programs. However, there are plenty of internship programs that are not university-affiliated and are looking for qualified participants of any age. For example, this Ecuadorian Entrepreneurship program favors applicants with professional business experience. Likewise, this Jamaican Veterinary Internship is ideal for professional veterinarians and veterinary nurses.

Even if you’ve already graduated and begun your career, internships are a wonderful way to refine your professional skills and share your knowledge with others.

4. If They Don’t Pay You, They Aren’t Worth It
There are huge discrepancies when it comes to internship compensation. Some internships offer hourly wages or salaries to their interns. Others provide stipends and other perks such as living or travel expenses. Still, others may (by financial necessity) require you as the intern to pay for certain parts of your program.

Many believe that you can judge the quality of an internship program by the amount of money they pay their interns. However, as previously discussed, there can be a huge value in working with smaller startup companies. Although they may not be able to pay as much (or at all) as larger, well-established corporations, these smaller companies offer hands-on experience in a variety of settings that larger companies (due to their size) are unable to accommodate.

5. International Internships Are Only In Europe
It is a widely held belief that if you’re wanting to work abroad, you’re going to be interning in Europe. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Although there are many amazing internship programs within European companies, countries all over the world are looking for highly qualified applicants to fill their internship positions.

Where have you always wanted to go? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to see Australia or travel to Japan. Whatever your dream destination happens to be, there is an amazing internship opportunity waiting for you.

6. Internships Abroad Are One Big Party
International internships offer unique opportunities for travel and adventure. How often do you get the opportunity to explore another country and immerse yourself in their culture?

However, because of the unique opportunities available for interns abroad, these programs are sometimes lumped into the same category as vacations or Spring Break trips, earning them the reputation of being a non-stop party.

Although this may become the experience for a small handful of interns, for the vast majority, internship programs are hard work and have high standards of professionalism. Internships offer so much more than a vacation.

7. If I Don’t Speak The Language, I Can’t Go
It’s a common misconception that you have to be proficient in order to participate in an internship program. This false belief has led many individuals to limit their internship search to only English speaking countries.

Not only is language proficiency not a requirement for many international internships, but there are also plenty of programs, such as this Chinese Language Exchange program, that actually require applicants to speak fluent English, not Chinese. Other programs, such as this Panda Care internship, offer language lessons as part of the internship.

Going on a project is also a great excuse to learn a new language!


International internships are an opportunity unlike any other. They offer valuable professional training combined with unique cultural experiences. Don’t let these common myths hold you back from the opportunity of a lifetime!

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Mikayla Colthirst-Reid
Posted on: 15 Nov 2019

Mikayla is a Global Nomadic contributor of awesome and engaging content to help inform Global Nomads!

Top 10 Reasons To Be An Intern (Even If You’ve Already Started Your Career)

Top ten reasons to be an intern cover

When most people think of internships, college probably comes to mind. Participating in at least one internship program during college is becoming an increasingly common practice. Some colleges and universities actually build internship semesters into their degree programs.

However, internship positions are not reserved solely for current college students. In fact, making time for an internship can reap rewards even if you’ve already started your career!

So whether you are currently attending university, are in between jobs, or have already begun your career and are looking for opportunities to branch out and learn some new valuable skills, here are 10 reasons to be an intern!

1. Enhance Your Resume
Employers prefer to hire candidates with experience. They are looking for individuals who have worked in similar settings or held similar positions. Applicants with industry-related internships on their resume are often chosen over other job candidates.

2. Gain New Skills
Internships offer the opportunity to learn or refine your work-related skills, making you a more qualified candidate for job openings. In addition to the learning that comes from trying new things in your day to day work, many internships have mentorship programs in which interns are able to follow closely and learn from an experienced mentor. These mentors model best practices through their example and provide valuable feedback aimed at helping the intern grow and improve.

3. Try Out Different Industries
If you are thinking of a career change or are still trying to make a decision regarding your future career plans, short-term internships are the perfect opportunity to try out different industries and see how they fit. Part-time internships or volunteer commitments will give you experience in the fields you are considering. You’ll be able to compare the strengths and weaknesses of different industries. This can be an important stepping stone in making long-term career decisions.

4. Grow Your Professional Reference List
When it comes time to apply for full-time positions, most reputable employers will ask for a reference list and, in many cases, several recommendation letters from colleagues and mentors. Internships are an excellent way to collect professional references from coworkers that have seen the work that you are capable of. It’s always a good idea to ask for reference letters from each of your internship mentors or bosses.

5. Land Potential Job Openings
One major benefit to becoming an intern is that you learn the inner workings of a particular company or organization. You understand their policies and procedures and are invested in the company life. This knowledge will give you a huge leg up when applying for full-time positions. Some organizations even allow interns to apply for job openings as internal candidates, giving you preference over other outside applicants.

6. Expand Your Network
Professional relationships matter. Having solid connections in your field and industry can make the ultimate difference when it comes to landing a job. Your network connections are a good place to turn when you are job hunting. They can point you towards potential job opportunities. They can also put in a good word for you with their company contacts or serve as one of your references.

7. Develop Your Communication Skills
With the rise of the digital age, employers are finding that strong in-person communication skills are harder to find in potential job candidates. However, the ability to communicate new ideas, appropriate handle conflict, and work productively with a team is necessary for the overall success of any organization. Internships provide the chance to practice and strengthen your communication skills, making you a more valuable part of any team.

8. Try Something New
Individuals grow personally and professionally when they challenge themselves to try new things. Internships provide the opportunity to practice new skills, explore new positions, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. In doing so, you will not only become a more versatile team member or employee, you will become a more well-rounded human being.

9. Explore New Places
If you’ve got a desire to see the world, you’re in luck! There are plenty of internships available in every corner of the world. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to visit Costa Rica or maybe a trip to Australia is on your bucket list. Where you want to go, there are internship programs that could take you there!

10. Expand Your Cultural Horizons
Cultural awareness is becoming an increasingly more important skill both in life and in the workplace. It allows an individual to see and appreciate the differences in those they work with. Cultural awareness also leads to greater curiosity and empathy, traits that highly sought after in productive team members. Internships provide the ability to work with people of all different cultures and backgrounds. If you are lucky enough to land an international internship position, you will have the opportunity for a truly immersive cultural experience!

There’s never a bad time for new learning experiences. Whether you’ve been working for years or you are just starting out, there are so many benefits to participating in a quality internship program.

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Mikayla Colthirst-Reid
Posted on: 15 Nov 2019

Mikayla is a Global Nomadic contributor of awesome and engaging content to help inform Global Nomads!