So, you’re planning to go for an internship abroad. Get you! You’ve got your paperwork sorted, your bags packed, and all your leftovers stored in your parent’s basement. Surely the only thing left to do now is drive to the airport, hop on the plane, and then rock up at your new internship with a phrasebook in hand and a positive attitude, right? Sure, but it’s worth bearing in mind these tips when it comes to interning abroad.
Tip #1. Pick the Right Country
This seems like the easiest option on the list. Sun! Sea! Sand! Culture! All of the above! And while it might be pretty damn tempting to go straight for the beautiful rolling beaches and party spots, remember that you’ll be interning here, not holidaying. Sure, you’ll be able to head out on the town now and again, but do you really want to find yourself stuck in a party town where you can’t party? Take into consideration the culture, too- is there any part of their society that you need to know about, such as social norms or modesty expectations? Be sure that their outlook on life will at least jibe with yours while you’re there. And last but not least, look at the political situation, as you don’t want to find yourself stranded in a foreign country with nowhere to stay while a civil war rages on around you (note: worst case scenario).
Tip #2. Look into the Company
Sure, you’ve probably heard a lot about the company you’re going to be interning for – where they stand in the market, what kind of work they currently do, why interning for them is the best choice you could possibly make. But there are other important factors to take into consideration, too. See if you can find someone who’s already interned with them, even if it’s just to send them an email or two. Ask them the questions the company can’t answer themselves: were they friendly? If you’re living in a foreign country away from your friends and loved ones you’re going to want workmates who’ll at least put up with showing you the nice drinking holes. Did they keep in contact after the internship, or at least offer references if you did a good job? Never underestimate the power of contacts. Whatever you ask, make sure you know as much as you can about what you’re getting into before you hop on that plane.
Tip #3. Work Out What You Want
It’s a good idea to sit down and try to work out exactly what you want from this internship. If you’re just going because it’s in another country, rethink your stratagems – could you find a more appropriate internship in your own country and then save up to visit later? Make sure your brain has switched from “party mode” to “work mode” before you arrive at baggage handling, as you’re going to struggle if not. And most of all, set yourself up for an amazing time, and bring back a thousand stories to make your boring stay-at-home interners sick with jealousy. That’s what it’s all about, right?