If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need convincing of the benefits of an overseas internship. You’ve already investigated the benefits in personal development and employment prospects and maybe even picked out the internship programme that’s right for you. After taking out tuition fee loans and racking up other debts to study, for many would-be interns the biggest challenge is finding the money to travel and intern. There are a number of options out there to help you overcome the hurdle of finding funding; here are some of our top tips.
Grants and Bursaries
There are countless endowments and scholarships available to students for very specific purposes, including overseas study and internships. Start by investigating whether your own college or university has any bursaries available and then look further afield. In the United States, the Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) and Tortuga Backpacks both offer funding for taking your studies abroad; other grants can be found through the International Financial Aid website.
Potential interns based in the United Kingdom can use the national database of grant making trusts administered by the Directory of Social Change. This is expensive to view online, but most large libraries carry a reference copy that you can consult for free.
Grant funding is sometimes attached to a specific location; it may be that your home community has a grant-making trust set up for the benefit of local inhabitants. For all grant applications, ensure you read the guidelines and application procedures carefully and adhere to them exactly in order to give you the best chance of success.
Part Time Work
If you do not already work to help towards the cost of your studies, a part time job should probably be the first thing you consider. When it comes to applying for jobs on the back of your internship, potential employers will be impressed by the commitment you made to funding your own development and training.
Every bit of spare money you earn reduces the overall burden on you; try to plan your trip well in advance and begin to save early on. If you are already working in a job related to your intended career, it’s worth trying to convince your employer to give you some funding towards your internship, as the business will benefit from your enhanced skills and experience on your return.
Friends and Family
Family members might already have invested heavily in your education, but could still prove to the best source of support for your overseas internship. If you’re reluctant to ask for extra money from people who have already supported you in your studies, consider asking for money instead of birthday presents and putting it towards your internship.
Find a Sponsor
If there is a particular employer you would like to work for after completing your internship, it could be worth approaching them to see whether they would consider offering you some funding. If they are as keen to employ you as you are to work for them, they will recognise the benefits that you will bring to your work as a consequence of completing your internship.
In making your approach to potential sponsors, make sure you have carefully considered what you can offer them in return for their support. As mentioned above, this is likely to include your skills, but you could also be in a position to offer a very specific product or service as a consequence of travelling abroad. An example of this might be a media intern in Mongolia being able to do on the ground research for a production company back home.
Although there are many possible sources of funding for your internship, don’t be surprised if you are not immediately successful in raising all of the money you need. You might need to treat fundraising almost as a second job, following up leads and pursuing all avenues of support until you succeed. The most important thing is for you to be persistent in your efforts; the reward will be worth it in the end.