Best Places for Engineering Internships Abroad

by GoAbroad Writing Team

Are you an engineering student or recent college graduate seriously considering doing internship abroad in engineering? If not, you’d probably be better off navigating away from this page (all this shop-talk may bore you to tears!).

Lets face it, international internships for civil and mechanical engineering students can be difficult to come by. Not to mention most #enginerds have incredibly rigorous academic schedules, leaving little time to devote to learning foreign languages or taking advantage of unique professional development opportunities (aka international internships). However, a good middle ground is to find summer internships abroad in engineering, which allow engineering students to stay on top of their course loads (and not miss out on any engineering design competitions!).

Piedras Rojas, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Piedras Rojas, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Photo credit to Stephanie Quiroz

Deciding to intern abroad is half the battle.

But, now that you know you want to pursue an engineering internship abroad and you’ve squared away when you are doing to do it, the final puzzle piece remains: where are you going to do it?! One of the most important decisions facing engineering students who have decided to intern abroad is the choice of location.

Finding an international internship in engineering that combines your engineering special interests (whether it be mechanical, aerospace, chemical, computer, civil, environmental, software, or electrical) with your dream location can be a challenge to say the least.

Read on to see where other number-wizards, code monkeys, gEEks, and sparkies have found awesome internships abroad in engineering.

1. Chile

Consider interning abroad in a nation that engineering has shaped immensely into its current standing. Chile, a vibrant country that developed primarily because of mining interests, is an excellent place to learn the ins and outs of engineering as an international intern.

As Chile continues to industrialize and expand, engineering fields are developing rapidly as well. This means the rapid creation of many engineering firms, both privatized and contracted through the government. With the rise of these companies come boundless internship opportunities for young engineering students and recent graduates, especially those interested in mining or petroleum engineering, but internship placements in civil and electrical engineering exist too.

Chile is a bit further off the beaten path than most students consider when looking for international internships. A wide-spanning country that includes high altitude mountain ranges, like Patagonia, island territories, such as the famed Easter Island, and beach coastlines that run for miles, Chile has literally everything to offer travel enthusiasts and curious students. Spanish is not a prerequisite for many internships at engineering firms operating out of the cosmopolitan city of Santiago, though Chile will offer countless opportunities to acquaint yourself with the language outside of the job.

Interns serious about squeezing every ounce of opportunity out of their international internship in engineering can always consider signing up for Spanish courses in Chile alongside their work placement.

Climbing the Great Wall of China

Climbing the Great Wall of China

Photo credit to Byron Francis

2. China

As the booming tech and development capital of the world, it’s no surprise that China is ranked amongst the best locations for engineering internships abroad.

Internships are highly respected positions in China, meaning that your work will be taken under serious consideration and supervisors often use internship research to fuel further projects. Additionally, those who travel to China for their engineering internships are more likely to be offered full-time positions with their host company upon graduation.

Much of China is made up of developing rural areas; not surprisingly, the nation’s main engineering interests are mechanical. Advanced farming equipment, large ships, planes, and cars are all being rapidly manufactured in China, making engineers a necessary part of business. In the ever-expanding cities of Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong, civil engineering is becoming increasingly popular as more and more skyscrapers are added to the cities’ skylines.

3. Israel

To better understand the field of engineering through the lens of the Middle East, Israel is a remarkable destination for engineering internships abroad. Not only are civil and structural engineers pushing the envelope in this fast-paced industrial environment, but its chemical and industrial industries are rapidly developing as well.

There are plenty of engineering internships is Israel behind the computer screen too; Israel’s startup scene is absolutely buzzing. With more venture capital being invested and innovation becoming the norm, many different enterprises in Israel are keen to hire new software engineering talent, so engineering internships can easily turn into full time job offers. It may be small, but it’s mighty. Israel is actually a giant when it comes to the tech industry.

4. Germany

Often called the powerhouse of European engineering, Germany has invested a great deal of resources into the education of engineers. This has resulted in a proud and robust population of firms on the cutting edge of engineering technology. German engineering is famed for being detail-oriented and precise, professional qualities that will be incredibly valuable for interns to mirror in their future careers. Despite their internal pride and high standards, they’re not afraid to recruit outsiders for engineering internships (or jobs, hint-hint!).

Frankfurt Skyline, Germany

Frankfurt Skyline, Germany

Photo credit to Marianne Bernheim Groszyc

Germany employs a vocational system of education, where pre-university and university studies are specifically oriented toward gaining employment and being ready to enter the workforce as a knowledgeable participant. Therefore, engineering internships are far more common in Germany than in other areas of the world. Good news for all you engineering students!

The German government partly subsidies internship placements and apprenticeships, making it cheaper for companies, or engineering firms, to hire interns. Large European companies headquartered in Germany employ many electrical and chemical engineers and the automotive industry is a substantial employer of mechanical engineers. Therefore, there will be a variety of engineering internships available for students in Germany.

5. Czech Republic

If you’re interested in electrical engineering, there are few places that are experiencing a boom in this industry as much as the Czech Republic. The electronics industry, and other related industries, have more than doubled over the last decade; new companies are frequently springing up in this gorgeous mountain nation in Eastern Europe. The high demand for engineering interns makes it a dynamic place to complete your engineering internship abroad.

Governmental changes in the Czech Republic, transitioning into private capitalism, have made the perfect combination for the private sector of engineering to blossom. You can find virtually any internship position in any realm of engineering in the Czech Republic, as the nation floods millions of dollars toward research projects and technical developments in the field.

Much of the Czech Republic speaks English, and engineering companies work with international interns who don’t have knowledge of the Czech language. Seize the opportunity to practice your craft while, in most cases, earning money; the beauty and historical richness of the Czech Republic makes it an ideal destination for engineering internships abroad.

Old town in Czech Republic

Old town in Czech Republic

Don’t forget that there may be some restrictions...

Language Barriers. Most lists of popular countries for engineering internships abroad (including this one) highlight primarily English-speaking nations. However, if you have foreign language skills, you should consider branching out and traveling to a place where you can practice your skills and increase your fluency. On the other hand, keep in mind that even though many countries may not list their official language as English, in many nations business is conducted in English. Asia, in particular, might make a good business fit for English speaking engineering students, as there tend to be very few language barriers within the workplace (but that is not to say learning the basics of the language won’t be helpful outside of it).

Wages. Another deciding factor for many engineering students seeking internships abroad is the issue of wages; visa restrictions and cultural norms often restrict paid engineering internships in many nations. While the countries included above tend to be more liberal toward paying interns, the fact of the matter is: paid international internships for engineering students are not guaranteed.

Here’s to new stamps in your passport!

Though seeking advice from peers and mentors is an excellent way to get your search for engineering internship locations started, know that if a certain location appeals to you on a greater level and is not on this list or suggested by others, it may still be a viable choice for your internship abroad in engineering.

Fortunately, engineering is a global science and can be practiced anywhere, even the far reaches of the globe. No matter how challenging your host country’s culture or business world may be, as time passes, you will find you can become more competent in the professional practices of your host nation and more comfortable with practical applications of your specialty within the field of engineering.

In a vast sea of choices, it is also imperative to remember that no matter where you choose to intern abroad, the experience is bound to be a positive one.

Employers respect international internship experience because it shows a candidate was willing to step out of their comfort zone, work in a country where business customs are radically different, and let the science of engineering shine through any challenges they may face.

The fundamental theories of engineering are constant the world over, but your experience is bound to be radically different and fundamentally life-changing.