Most Popular Intern Abroad Destinations

by Joel Tan

Every year more than half of university graduates in the United States and in most parts of Europe turn to internships in a mad rush to avoid the arduous task of searching for work, often in vain. Securing placement in the workforce of a company in another country is not only better than spending fruitless months looking for a job, it also gives graduates international experience which large corporations see as valuable. Where exactly do these graduates go for internships? The popularity of particular countries is apparent.

The Epitome of London, England
The Epitome of London, England. Photo by Erin Browne

China-Bet you didn't know: Nearly half of all interns choose China as a destination.

China is one of the world's fastest-growing economies, so fast that it might actually surpass the U.S. economy in the next five years. One reason why interns prefer China over all other intern destinations is that most, if not all, placements are paid. The pay is negligible, usually only enough to cover basic expenses, housing, and regular meals, but factor in the probability of getting hired after the internship, and it is a done deal. China, after all, has one of the highest internship-to-job conversion rates in the world. 

Another reason why interns are packing their bags and heading to China is the growing demand for foreign labor that actually cuts staffing expenditures instead of adding to it. Keep in mind though, competition is fierce when seeking an internship in China and not all recruiters or internship companies are fair in their dealings. One sure way of securing an internship in China is by going through a reputable intern program provider (Check out GoAbroad's options).

Spain-Bet you didn't know: Spain is a top notch study abroad destination, in fact, it is one of the most popular and commonly offers joint study and intern programs.

Spain has one of the largest economies in the world, fifth in the European Union, making it a great intern abroad destination too. What compounds its progress, are high inflation rates and a huge underground economy. Spending a few months in Spain gives interns the opportunity to learn Spanish, a sought-after language in international business circles next to Mandarin and English. In their spare time, interns in Spain can travel across the country taking in the sights and exploring the rich culture brought about by hundreds of years of conquest and subjugation.

The first thing interns notice about life in Spain is the laid back atmosphere, where the cultural phenomena known as siesta, or midday nap, thrives (a nice internship bonus in some cases). Spaniards also love talking, especially in the workplace. Interns are expected to leave aloofness at home and talk with their new colleagues about anything. Remember, however, that Spain does have a strong economy, and not because workers spend their entire day socializing.

England-Bet you didn't know: England's capital, London, receives the most international visitors of any city in the world.

England is a cultural mecca. London, is bursting at the seams with culture, from the rows upon rows of theaters and museums to the 43 universities that make the city one of the best places to study in the world. Interns benefit from the country's economic standing as headquarters to at least 100 of the 500 biggest corporations in Europe. It's no wonder interns are making a beeline for England, particularly London, widely considered the largest financial center in the world.

When in England, do what the English do, and that is going out well dressed. Men dress conservatively with dark-colored suits and plain ties. Women, on the other hand, wear stylish business suits with blouses or dresses. Being prompt is a way of life; interns are advised to avoid coming in late for work and even for social functions.

Argentina-Bet you didn't know: Many major economic institutions classify Argentina as an upper middle-income economy.

There are many things that make Argentina a great internship destination, but what stands out the most is joining a workforce that has bounced back from a severe economic crisis, which left the country reeling for years after 2001. Today, Argentina is once again a bustling South American country, where a good infrastructure--a strong telecommunications backbone and high healthcare standards--coupled with a low crime rate has helped it regain economic glory. The nation is now the third largest economy in South America and a member of the 15 major world economies.

Argentina is also a wonderful place to learn Spanish and go on adventures to many areas of contrasting natural beauty, including waterfalls, glaciers, and of course the Andes, the longest continental mountain range in the world. Argentina's climate, although varied, is great for travel any time of the year through a wide ay of terrain, from coastal areas and deserts to lakes and mountains. Argentineans are also among the most hospitable and helpful people in the world, making cultural adjustment significantly easier for interns.

Thailand-Bet you didn't know: Despite being about Thailand, the King and I, both Hollywood and Broadway productions, is banned in the country.

Thailand is better known as a volunteer destination rather than a popular internship destination worldwide. As a developing country, Thailand is replete with volunteering opportunities in education and healthcare. Being a major tourist magnet has, however, put an emphasis on the need for interns in the growing tourism and hospitality industries as the nation pushes to utilize the potential economic benefits of the industry. Bangkok especially is continually growing and corporations and major business are recognizing the potential of the rising international capital city.

Interns can opt to work in non-traditional internship fields, including environmental and wildlife conservation, with good cause as Thailand is home to a tenth of all animal species in the world. A few of the rarest species are found in Thailand, providing unique wildlife work experience for interns from around the globe. The relative affordability of living in Thailand will also benefit interns on a budget, where a filling, spicy meal hardly costs $2 U.S. dollars.