It can seem overwhelming to think about life after graduation but ready or not, the job search will happen. Employers aren’t only looking at your stellar grades, but for candidates with practical experience, a unique story, and the skills needed to thrive at their company. An internship abroad can set you apart from other applicants impressing prospective employers with your courage, adaptability, cultural awareness, and hands-on experience.
But don’t fool yourself with unrealistic daydreams about an internship abroad; you won’t become an expert professional overnight, your big break is unlikely to happen during a few weeks of interning, and you won’t get internship credit for spending your days lounging in the sun. We want you to really be prepared for what to expect from a professional internship abroad. So here are 7 things to know before an internship abroad.
Do Your Research
Research is always one of our top tips for anyone enrolling in any program abroad. Though Maximo Nivel has established internship placement sites that are guaranteed to give you a proper internship experience to boost your resume, that doesn’t mean you’re better off leaving everything in our hands. You know yourself best and can articulate your goals and desired outcome of the internship better than anyone can–so let’s hear it!
Doing research before speaking with our program advisors helps us to get a clear picture of your ideal internship placement. Look at all of the internship options, determine the flourishing industries in your desired destination, speak to past interns, and weigh your pros and cons.
Set Strategic Goals
It’s common for interns to start at their placement sites happy to be given any sort of task related to their chosen field. Though there is nothing wrong with this approach, interns that tend to leave most satisfied are those who come to the internship with goals in mind for what it is they want to learn by the time they leave. This helps us set the tone for the structure of your internship and allows our partner organizations to work with you specifically on tasks related to your goals.
Set your intention for the internship and you’ll leave with clearly defined skills and experience to present to a prospective employer.
Understand the Work Culture
Doing a bit of research on the work culture of your destination will prepare you for surprises that might come your way. Accustomed to a 9AM-5PM routine? Well, your office might not open for another hour or so; not used to sharing a few beers with your office mates during lunch? Cervezas over lunch might be the beverage of choice.
Depending on your destination, there may be more unpleasant culture shocks, so be prepared by reading up before your departure.
Make Your Internship Supervisor Your Mentor
If it’s your first internship experience, you might be overwhelmed about the whole ordeal, and even intimidated by your manager and co-workers who have much more experience. But the whole point of an internship is to learn! So, do that. And the best way to learn is to engage in conversation with those who have something to teach you.
Networking is so important in business; establishing relationships is fundamental for success. Networking is how you learn, grow, and expand your professional opportunities. Instead of waiting to receive instruction from your supervisor each day, consider him/her a mentor. Get to know them personally, ask about their career path, and soak up as much knowledge from them as possible! Remember, you don’t just want daily instruction, you want lifelong advice!
Take Advantage of Travel
We know you’ve chosen an internship abroad to boost your career prospects but take advantage of the fact that you’re abroad! Who knows when you might get the chance to visit this country again? Some interns are so focused on their work that they don’t take advantage of the travel opportunities–don’t be THAT intern!
Make sure before you leave for your internship that you’ve put away money just for this purpose. Wherever you decide to intern, you can be sure to learn of some bucket list destinations nearby, bordering countries, and cultural festivals! See and do as much as you can while interning abroad.
Live Like a Local
An internship abroad is the perfect opportunity to meet the locals! Whether at the office or in your neighborhood, get to know the culture by directly interacting with the people from there. They know the best spots to go, the secret gems tourists wish they knew, and where to get the best traditional dishes. It’ll give you more insight, and the true experience of living like a local.
Get a Recommendation Letter
This is true no matter where you intern, but especially important for an internship abroad. This letter holds more weight than any old internship–it shows you were brave enough to step out of your comfort zone, live and work overseas, and get international experience. It’s the perfect way to market your international experience–not only does this add to your personal development, but you were also conscientious enough to gain the professional experience needed to make you an ideal candidate.
Ready to Intern Abroad?
Now that you’ve gotten all the prep tips you need for a successful internship abroad, check out our programs and get ready for the semester of a lifetime! Remember to do your research, set your intentions and goals, and take advantage of every minute while overseas.
With realistic expectations, you’ll be able to get the internship experience you want and need to set you on the road to success.