Whether you’re traveling, studying, or interning abroad, you’re bound to have the experience of a lifetime. But none will contribute to your professional development more than an internship, as the reason for this specific trip is to gain experience that will give you an advantage in the workforce, as you develop your professional skill set and expand your professional network abroad. The best part is you won’t have to sacrifice the social and personal development that comes from traveling; think cultural experience, learning a new language, meeting new friends from all over the world, and exciting your taste buds with never before eaten foods!

An international internship will give you the experience of working abroad without having to commit to an employer. However, if you decide living and working abroad is right for you, you’ll have an added advantage of gaining an opportunity to pursue a career abroad after graduation. After all, you’ll have professional contacts to fall back on, right?

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Being in the country you wish to pursue a career in allows you to explore the local job market, and scout potential employment opportunities. It’s possible to build a life anywhere in the world, even if you don’t have any contacts there, as long as you take advantage of your opportunities to network while you’re in-country.

Develop Your Brand Before Venturing Out

In today’s international market, it’s important that employers are able to learn more about who you are as a professional than by only being able to scan your resume. Developing your brand is imperative to successful networking and job sourcing opportunities. Whether you’re building your following on Twitter or keeping active on LinkedIn, employers from all over the world want to know that you’re able to interact with others on a large platform. This makes it easier to get connected with opportunities you might never have imagined.

Essentially, sharing your thoughts, ideas, and knowledge about the industry you seek to enter helps you to market yourself as an asset. It also shows you are a curious student with the initiative to seek information from experts and influencers in your field. Use your content to make a connection with those in higher positions to open the flow of communication and establish a relationship. Even more beneficial is to find those experts and influencers who live in the country you wish to pursue a career.

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Here’s a scenario to consider:

You’re writing a LinkedIn post related to your industry and want a quote from an industry professional to boost your credibility. Using your professional Twitter account, you reach out to this professional and ask if they would be available for a quote for your post. Said professional now reviews your profile and previous work and agrees to chat with you.

In the scenario above, you not only proved your competence to someone with pull in the field, but getting a quote from this person in your post will validate you as an (up and coming) industry professional. You’ve also forged a new relationship with a powerful connection that wouldn’t have been initiated had you only sent a resume or cover letter.

This is the start to developing your professional international network.

Make the Most of Your Internship Abroad

The internship you choose should be directly related to the a major or industry you want to pursue a career in. That way, you are guaranteed to meet and work with contacts as soon as possible. Do your research to determine the companies you might be interested in working with by getting as much information as possible from your internship supervisor. Asking questions shows your passion, dedication, and interest, and our mentors are happy to help students in their quest to establish themselves, so don’t be nervous!

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While interning abroad, your supervisor is happy for the international skills you contribute to help develop business and are happy to return the favor by providing advice and information that will help you to develop the professional skills you need to succeed! Your motive should be to develop not only a professional, but personal relationship, based on trust and mutual benefits. This will help to open doors for further networking opportunities with other small business owners in your supervisor’s contact list. But remember to always have a reason to meet and reach out.

Thereafter, it’s only about nailing down the contacts you’re interested in meeting, and scheduling accordingly. But again, be specific with your objective. Think about questions pertaining specifically to their business, the industry, or employment opportunities! Find out where the company might need to develop and be the innovator who can get them there! Successful people are often very open to new ideas, but you have to be specific with what you want, or what you’re offering. Go for it!

Keep in Touch with International Contacts

Once you’re home, and the high of your international experience wears off, it might be easy to fall into comfortable habits, and forget about those contacts you met abroad. But don’t! Make sure to stay in touch!

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Keep your network updated on any accomplishments in your field, upcoming plans, or specifics about how to work in your desired country. And don’t forget to ask what’s new with them! Open communication and maintaining connections is key for successful networking. Continue to work on building quality contacts, as your network will be the prime base for employment opportunities locally and abroad! And the bigger your network, the more expansive the opportunities. And it can all start with an internship abroad.