How to Find The BEST Journalism Internship Abroad

by Andoni Bengoechea Puigvert

You type “journalism internships abroad” into Google and a barrage of opportunities come up. “Which one should I choose?”, you ask yourself as you meander through numerous websites, testimonials, and application forms. To make your search a little easier, we have put together a brief guide on how to find the best journalism internship abroad; read on to learn all the details:

Group of RoosterGNN interns with Benjamin Jones in Madrid
Workshop & Site Visit at Matadero Madrid with RGNN Expert Benjamin Jones

Step 1: “Best” is subjective, so find what’s right for YOU.

First off, the word “best” is subjective. What’s right for one intern might not be right for another. Before you even begin your search for journalism internships abroad, take a few minutes to reflect on the following, and then write down your answers; this way, when you’re browsing through available internships, you can circle those that meet your personal needs.

What tasks would you ideally like to do during your journalism internship abroad? What are your career goals? For example, does your interest lie primarily in writing, or perhaps photography? Journalists nowadays are increasingly called “jacks-of-all-trades,” meaning that if you’re looking for journalism internships abroad that focus on blogging, video, or social media, there are opportunities available that will include all of those. You just need to figure out which types of journalism internships you are looking for in the first place.

Are you looking for full-time or part-time journalism internships abroad? Many students complete internships abroad in order to travel to foreign cities and countries in their free time. That’s fine, you just need to be upfront about this during the application process. The field of journalism, especially breaking news, can have a somewhat unpredictable schedule, and some companies may request you to come to the office during late hours or on the weekends. Magazine journalism or travel blogging, on the other hand, tend to have more flexible schedules. Some companies may request that you intern full time, but might be open to giving you Fridays off. Just ask.

Girl excitedly holding her arms up in the air
Travel Journalism & Photography Internship Seminar in Cuba

When, and for how long, are planning to intern abroad? Do you have any preferences as to where you would like to travel? Are you completely open to any destination? Or have you always wanted to do a journalism internship abroad in Spain, for example? The question of destination brings us also to the next point: language.

What languages do you speak? If you do not speak the local language of your destination country, does your internship accept interns that only speak English? For journalism internships abroad, the language issue is perhaps even more relevant than for other industries. Especially if you are looking to write articles, you will need to speak the local language in order to do so, or work for an English-language publication abroad. If you are an English-only speaker, don’t let that hold you back, though. There are plenty of international publications that accept international interns.

What budget do you need to intern abroad? What sources of funding do you have available for journalism internships abroad? Consider your parents, family, friends, home university, internship provider, financial aid and third-party grants, or scholarships to fund your internship abroad.

Step 2: Start your search and evaluate the perks.

Armed with your checklist of personal preferences, you can begin your search for a journalism internship abroad. Now is the time not only to answer the questions above, but also to find out about the perks of your journalism internship abroad. Regardless of what your career goals are exactly, chances are, they do not include making photocopies and getting coffee (even if that involves a free trip to Starbucks, your favorite). When evaluating journalism internships, have another checklist of questions at hand, such as the following:

  • Will you actually be able to write/take photos/etc. and have them considered for publication?
  • If you write, will you receive a byline on your published work? Where will it be published?
  • What access will you have to experts and mentors throughout your internship?
  • Will you be able to receive feedback on your work before publication?
  • Will the company provide certifications and/or a letter of recommendation upon completion of the internship?
  • Will the program be considered for academic credit at your home university, and how many hours of academic credit will you receive?
  • Is the program complemented with any workshops, site visits, excursions? Or perhaps even exclusive access to press-only events?
  • Will you receive a press pass/accreditation for the duration of your internship?
  • What are past program participants doing now? Are they working in the journalism world?
  • Does the program require any previous experience or published articles, and if so, do you meet those requirements?
Girl taking a photo on the Malecon in Havana, Cuba
Taking photos on the world-famous Malecón in Havana, Cuba

If you want all of these things and more, you aren’t necessarily asking for too much; there are journalism internships that can do ALL of the above. 

Step 3: Determine all the logistics.

While the above questions all pertain to your actual journalism internship abroad, there are also logistical questions to consider related to:

  • Housing - Does the program include housing? If so, what kind of housing (i.e. apartments, student residence, home stay, etc.)?
  • Food - Does the program include food? If you are vegetarian, for example, research both the country and the program for available options.
  • Transportation - Does the program include transportation? Airport pick up and drop off?
  • Local support & Emergencies - What in-country support services are available in the case of an emergency?
  • Costs - What is included in the cost? Be sure to find out about insurance, visas, flights, etc.

Step 4: Fill out the application and score an interview.

While having a detailed checklist on hand is helpful, not all answers to these questions may be available online or in a brochure. But, you can certainly email your specific internships program provider and ask your questions.

Girlfriends drinking wine
Tapas networking reception during our Journalism Internship Seminars in Madrid, Spain

Once you are ready to submit an application, and even score an interview, keep in mind that while you have to choose the company, but they also have to choose you. Make sure your resume and application shows the best of you, and make sure you submit all the required materials. Some companies ask you to pitch, meaning propose, an idea for an article you would like to write while interning there; be sure you have familiarized yourself with the publication before you pitch an idea. If you are applying for a travel journalism and photography program in Cuba, don’t pitch ideas about another country or topic.

In your interview, you can again take advantage of asking questions about the program. However, we suggest that you answer the interviewer’s questions first, and then ask your own at the end of the interview.

Step 5: Go abroad, do journalism, and network!

Whether or not a journalism internship is the experience of a lifetime is not only determined by the prep work (although that has a big effect), but also by your experience in-country and afterward. Once you begin your internship, be proactive and seek out the experience you have come for. If you came to write, give your best shot at writing.

Find a balance between exploring the destination, and advancing in your career. Network with fellow journalists and supervisors abroad, and keep those connections once you leave. Who knows, the media landscape is changing by the minute, and they may be able to offer you an assignment or even a journalism job somewhere down the road.

Interns at El Mundo in Spain
Workshop & Site Visit to El Mundo - one of the largest newspapers in Spain

Now that you know how to get a journalism internship, it is time to start your search!

This article was sponsored by ROOSTERGNN Global News Network, a non-profit news agency that promotes freedom of expression and journalism education. Committed to training the next generation of journalists, RGNN created ROOSTERGNN Academy, which, since July 2016, has been offering Journalism Internship Seminars in Madrid, Spain. And now, in accordance with their global outlook, they are announcing their first Travel Journalism and Photography Internship Seminar in Cuba (which will take place from December 2016 to January 2017).