Top Reasons to Intern Abroad in Western Europe

by Sheryll Mate

As the famous saying goes, there is a time in a student's life when he or she has to leave the comfort of the books and put into practice the theories learned in the confines of a classroom. This must be done in order to fully realize and take on the challenges of the real world, and make the necessary transition from university life to career life.

The Signature of London.
The Signature of London. Photo by Troy Peden

Interning abroad in Western Europe, specifically, has become a go to choice for students interested in making this life transition, because progressive cities like Amsterdam, Geneva, and Paris provide ideal settings for internships and provide a plethora of placement options. Western Europe attracts hundreds of international interns every year, the question is should you join them?

1. Booming Economy

“In unity, there is strength.” Western Europe, by advocating this motto, aims to grow politically and economically by working together to achieve economic progress. As a result, they have exceeded the productivity growths of many other countries in the world. The majority of the nations in the region are known as high-income developing countries, even despite the recent economic issues. The region has been in the forefront of globalization over the years. Of the 500 biggest global corporations, 170 have their central offices in the countries of the European Union. Western Europe as a whole, provides interns with the opportunity to work in the region's powerful market and experience the local business culture.

2. Prominent History, Culture, and People

Western Europe's cultural norms, history, religion, and politics have been truly influential around the world, significantly shaping many modern civilizations throughout history and even in current times. Modern governmental systems have roots from ancient Rome and western political practices. The most universal language of the world, English, clearly originated from several European languages, such as Latin, German, and French. The religions and traditional beliefs of the ancient western European civilizations are practiced on completely different continents, like North America and Australia.

3. Gastronomic Giants

Aside from ancient sites and historical attractions, Western Europe prides itself in having some of the world's best cuisines. Portugal's delectably fresh seafoods, France's haute breads, Italy's sumptuous pasta dishes, Belgium's chocolates, Swiss cheeses, the list is endless.  Each country's cuisine exhibits certain similarities with neighboring cuisines, yet it can be uniquely identified. Austria and Switzerland shares similarities with German cuisine.  France and Italy are known for their legendary wines and distinct cuisines, which are some of the most well-received and respected throughout the world. The food experience in Western Europe is very diverse, exploring each country's staple foods and traditional dishes can become an adventure in and of itself.         

4. Western Tolerance and Freedom

Western European countries have for the most part maintained a commendable level of respect for human rights, gender equality, political justice, and democratic standards in recent decades. One of the most important social issues in the world confronted by the region is the issue of same-sex marriages. Of the countries that have legalized same-sex marriage, more than half are in Western Europe, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, and Sweden. This illustrates how open and culturally liberated the region is, which makes it beneficial for interns who obviously wish to work in an environment free of discrimination in any respect (or experience one if they come from a country where discrimination is not looked down upon in every form). The freedom that exists in Western Europe allows interns to express themselves the way they wish, religiously, politically, and socially, giving them comfort in being themselves and doing what they love to do.

5. Invaluable Preparation and Transition to the Labor Market 

One of the reasons participating in international internships has become very common among graduates and students is because it provides a smooth, gradual transition into the labor industry. Academic education is of course a good foundation, but applying knowledge through internships abroad can help take skills to the next level. International internships prepare individuals for promising careers in the competitive global market of today, by making interns more marketable in a wider range of positions. It is quite common for employers to hire interns for full time employment in their companies, therefore internships can act as a huge stepping stone. Internships help foster relationships and connections with professionals from other countries, while giving you more insight about working in a specific field and in a different or challenging culture.

6. Development of Personality

International internship placements provide individuals with more than just useful work experience. Internships abroad equip interns with a global perspective, adaptability, and other capabilities that will truly make them stand out from others in the job market. Working abroad will not only provide meaningful opportunities for learning and development in the workplace, it also gives interns the chance to grow through daily immersion in the local culture. Individuals who can adapt to cultural and business practices of other countries, show an enhanced ability to problem solve and overcome challenges, and also tend to exude more confidence. Living and working in a foreign country will ild a person's character, strengthen independence, and critical thinking skills. Participation in internship programs specifically helps individuals develop a global understanding of economics, multiculturalism, and how to deal with diversity in the workplace. Therefore, the real worth of an international internship is the opportunity for total development, professionally and personally.