New Year, new you, new job, and new…country? If your resolutions for this year involve beefing up that resume and becoming a professionally competitive bad@S&, think about doing internships abroad and set yourself apart from the crowd at home. International is sexy, and employers think so too.
With the best international internships under your belt, you’ll definitely have some extra international skills to flaunt compared to the average Joe Schmoe homebody, who missed the globalization memo. Companies and corporations nowadays function at a multinational level on a daily basis, so having a workforce that understands business practices and culture differences in other countries has become an invaluable asset. Collect some professional know-how alongside the cross-cultural understanding that only comes with immersion through living abroad.
Whether you’re dreaming of interning with animals on a South African wildlife reserve or working at a top-tier resort on one of Mexico’s romantic, sandy beaches, there’s an internship out there for you. All you need to get started is a target industry, dream destination, and a passport. Not sure where in the world to start looking?
Where to Find the Best International Internships in 2017
We’ve narrowed down a list of our top internship abroad destinations for 2017 to get that inspiration burning and help you find a placement ASAP.
1. South Africa
Penguins and lions and beaches — oh my! South Africa is a country of contrast and rich diversity stemming from its long, controversial history of colonialism and its unique geographic location at the tip of Africa. Being the continent’s first country to ever host a FIFA World Cup in 2010 and also known as Africa’s financial capital gives this nation of almost 50 million people lots to be proud of. Internships in South Africa are as diverse as the nation’s multi-ethnic population, with opportunities available in a wide variety of industries in cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
South Africa occupies only a tiny fraction of the world’s land area, but it houses an incredibly diverse 10 percent of Earth’s known species of plants, bird, and fish. With wildlife reserves, such as the Kruger National Park, and thousands of other privately owned plots scattered across South Africa, it’s no wonder this country is a haven for interns looking to work with animals or the environment. Get involved in conservation efforts or the ecotourism industry to save the environment. If working with humans is more your thing, try your hand at business, public health, or engineering placements.
Although the messy apartheid years are well in the past, the fight for social justice and equality continues, which gives way to countless non-profits and human rights internships. Regardless of whether your interests lie in the environment or public health, by completing internships abroad in South Africa you’ll have a role in the betterment of the country as it continues to embrace a new era.
Pros: An immense diversity plays a role in every aspect of South Africa, ensuring that although you might never fully understand the 11 different official languages spoken in South Africa during your internship abroad, you’re guaranteed to never get bored. Just like the varying landscape, ecosystems, and wildlife, the South African people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. This kaleidoscope diversity has earned the country its nickname of “rainbow nation”.
Another plus of South Africa is the widespread usage of English, so chances are you’ll be able to effectively communicate with your coworkers and community members around you. Of course, you’ll get to leave South Africa with a new arsenal of words, sayings, and slang!
Cons: Looking past the stunning landscape of colorful plateaus and long beaches, the persisting economic disparity and social issues among the disadvantaged populations are a bitter pill to swallow. If you’re not used to struggling communities with social imbalances, you may experience some culture shock at the start.
If you’re interning in communities with high poverty rates, you should also be aware of petty crime and know your surroundings when walking around. An internship in South Africa working with disadvantaged communities or doing volunteer projects in your free time can help you better understand these communities, while allowing you to lend a hand.
Particularly Awesome Internships:
Ah, the classic and beloved England. The origin of some of our most loved books, music groups, and that dreamy accent of which we can’t seem to get enough. There’s a reason (plenty of reasons, actually) why masses of eager students fly across the Pond to intern abroad in England, making it consistently top the charts for popular international internship destinations. In today’s day and age, England houses an immensely diverse population and society in which Chicken Tikka Masala is a national dish alongside the classic fish and chips. With an extensive economy encompassing large multinational firms, such as Unilever and BP, there are plenty of internships in England to choose from. While most internships are centered in London, there are also opportunities for the slightly more adventurous in places across the country like Manchester or Birmingham.
Interning in an English-speaking country swings the door of opportunity wide open, so that there’s no language barrier separating you from your dream internship or industry. In the country that first launched the world into industrialism, business internships in accounting, finance, or economics are all common options for students looking to get some international business experience. With a well-established fashion industry (think Burberry and Paul Smith), aspiring fashion connoisseurs will find their niche as well on the high fashion runway of London Fashion Week or behind the scenes running the business side of things. Other popular internship options include journalism, graphic design, and engineering.
Pros: Apart from sharing a language, America and England share many cultural similarities stemming from a common history and immigration patterns. Although this gives way to very little culture shock, don’t expect England to be a mirror image of home. There are still many subtle cultural differences and expectations that you should keep in mind while undertaking internships abroad in England. Life will be a bit different, but adapting to your new day-to-day routine and picking up some helpful workplace lingo won’t be extraordinarily difficult.
Cons: Perpetually dreary weather and a relatively high cost of living (especially in London) may be a turnoff to interning in England. Just think of how thankful you’ll be for every ray of sunshine that you’ll see! If you’re wanting to intern abroad on a smaller budget, consider looking for internships outside of London.
Particularly Awesome Internships:
¡Che! Picture yourself interning in an office tucked away in a nostalgic Parisian-resembling alleyway with sultry Tango accordion tunes floating through the open window from down below. Argentina has been shaped by centuries of European immigration and influence, giving way to the common saying that Argentines descended from ship, and creating this cultural melting pot of the South. In fact, European immigrants have left behind such a deep-seated imprint on Argentina’s language, food, architecture, and culture that you might be left questioning whether you are still in Latin America or accidently got on a plane to Italy. Apart from 10 p.m. dinners with your coworkers, beef empanadas, and street tango performances, there are tons of more reasons why you should intern abroad in Argentina this year.
By land area alone, Argentina is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world — perfect for some of the best international internships — or shall we say el mejor?! Within its far scoping borders you can board a ship to Antarctica, set your eyes on massive glaciers in the South or tropical waterfalls in the North, and ride horseback through the Pampas grasslands. Internships in Argentina are as wide-ranging as the country’s geography with opportunities to work in industries, such as business or media, in the capital city of Buenos Aires. Although Argentina enjoys the Highest Human Development Index in Latin America, there are still persistent human rights and economic issues plaguing the country. Therefore, the country is brimming with opportunities to intern in human rights, politics, economic development, and social work. In rural areas, there are many options for students interested in public health and medicine to work with underserved communities.
Pros: Argentina is one of the most developed countries in Latin America, which means the average standard of living is higher and poverty is lower. Especially in Buenos Aires, you can expect to find the everyday conveniences of big cities. Interning in Argentina will also give you a unique look into how the Argentine workplace functions, in addition to its rich culture and social interactions. Besides, there’s always somewhere in the city where you can dance tango with strangers.
Of course, we all know the BIGGEST incentive to go intern in Argentina is the food. Dulce de leche, anyone? Grills and steakhouses line the streets, waiting for you to indulge in savory, meaty goodness after a long day of work. Just think of all the empanadas, pizzas, espressos at open-air cafes, and gelatos you can feast on with fellow interns.
Cons: If one of your goals while interning abroad in Argentina is to polish up on that Spanish and maybe even shoot for fluency, immersion is always a straight shot! Just keep in mind that Argentine Spanish is probably unlike any regional variation you’ve ever learned in school, and chances are you might have never had any exposure to it before. Apart from adapting to some unique grammatical differences like using vos in place of tú, a strong accent will also take getting used to.
Argentina’s fluctuating currency caused by governmental corruption and economic turmoil in the past few decades may cause confusion when first trying to figure out how much bang you’re getting for your buck. Economic recession and unemployment has also given way to some petty crime and theft, so make sure to keep an eye out when walking out in public or taking public transportation.
Particularly Awesome Internships:
You probably won’t be interning as a crocodile wrestling assistant in the Land Down Under, but this massive continent-country sure has plenty to offer to students wanting to intern abroad. The majority of Australia’s population is crowded around the coastline, due to the fact that the country’s interior is largely uninhabitable desert, rainforests, or has uncomfortable conditions that no ordinary person would want to brave. Australians are often teased for being descendants of exiled British prisoners (there’s truth in that!), but in fact the people who call Australia home today have origins tracing back to all over the world. In such an international crowd, you’ll make a great addition to the globally-minded organizations and business scattered throughout the country’s colorful terrain.
No vision of Australia would be complete without mention of its natural wonders and crazy wildlife (much of which can kill you), which gives way to heaps of internship opportunities for those interested in being one with nature. With such a heavily emphasized coastal lifestyle and just a boat ride away from the Great Barrier Reef, you can dig up some ripper internships in marine research, environmental protection, and wildlife conservation in sanctuaries and reserves. Having produced world-famous acting talents like Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, and the Hemsworth brothers, it’s no surprise that Australia is also big on film and the performing arts. Another popular internship option in Australia is in tourism and hospitality, fueled by a booming tourism industry closely tied to the country’s extensive beaches and natural beauties.
Pros: Australia offers an endless list of activities to do after your work in some of the world’s best international internships, which are obviously made for outdoor enthusiasts. Since you’ve already traveled so far, you might as well check that scuba certification off your bucket list, learn to surf, embrace the Australian spirit and learn about Aboriginal culture in the Outback, or spend time with your new mates around the barbie. Another great perk is the lack of language barrier, which makes it easy-peasy to meet locals or understand coworkers.
Cons: For those not used to the untamed side of nature, Australia’s non-human inhabitants may cause a bit of worry. We’re talking about the wild side, not the mild side, of wildlife that includes spiders and snakes on a wide spectrum of venomous, poisonous, and lethal. Although these sneaky assassins occasionally pop up in populated areas, most prefer to stay away from humans all together, so you don’t have TOO much to worry about. When in doubt, don’t pet the wildlife.
Particularly Awesome Internships:
What better way to gain professional experience abroad than through an internship in paradise? Once home to the sophisticated Mayan and Aztec civilizations, Mexico boasts some of the world’s best beaches, imposing canyons, and unworldly ruins of the bygone civilizations. The capital, Mexico City, is one of the world’s largest megacities and an important economic hub in Latin America. There is no other city in the world with more Spanish speakers! Arising from a unique blend of Mesoamerican and Spanish influences, Mexican culture is as flavorful and savory as its food. Mexico might be the United States’ next door neighbor and seem all too familiar, but by interning abroad in Mexico you’ll find a whole different side to this country that will blow any expectations away.
For students wanting to get an international perspective on the tourism industry or hospitality, the plush five-star resorts of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula are a no-brainer. Mexican culture takes customer service to the next level, and learning from the best international internships will no doubt leave a lasting impression on your future career in hospitality. Business internship opportunities to get a taste of the Latin American market are numerous, especially along Mexico City’s main avenue, Paseo de la Reforma, and in other large cities like Monterrey. If you’re more interested in saving the world than making business deals or catering to tourists, a wildlife conservation internship working with sea turtles or stray dogs all across the country may be a better fit. Other options include community development and sustainability.
Pros: Apart from spending your free time consuming vast amounts of tacos and spicy candies, or celebrating the Day of the Dead, you will also benefit from a low cost of living that allows you to live quite comfortably while interning abroad in Mexico. Although English is widely spoken in tourist towns and in large cities, you’ll find plenty of volunteers eager to help you learn Spanish and perfect your Mexican slang. Thanks in part to efforts taken by the new Mexican administration, the country’s economy has been blossoming, lending to new business opportunities and greater stability.
Cons: A potential drawback to interning in Mexico is petty crime that persists in less patrolled and poorer areas of the larger cities. An easy precaution is to stay off the streets at night and to only take radio taxis ordered from authorized dispatchers, rather than any taxi off the street. Although a huge concern of tourists and expats in recent years has been cartel violence, most of the occurrences have been isolated close to the U.S.-Mexico border and normally don’t concern uninvolved parties.
Particularly Awesome Internships:
Ever wondered what the redheaded leprechauns are hiding on the other side of the rainbow? If you guessed a pot of gold, you’re pretty close. Within Ireland’s lush, green borders lie heaps of internship opportunities that will help propel your international career, while you enjoy the company of some of the friendliest people in the world. Before jumping on the next flight to Ireland thinking you’ll just find a pattern of sheep, fields, and pubs, try recalibrating your view of Irish culture at home through Irish top-notch films and media. Much of what we know of the Emerald Isle has been strongly influenced by Hollywood’s typecasting, but since the 1950s the country has managed to remove itself from a dominant agrarian-based economy. Ireland was bestowed with the nickname “Celtic Tiger” due to its economic prosperity and is now one of the wealthiest countries in Europe.
Economic growth means an abundance of business internship opportunities for students seeking the best international internships in Ireland. Business also comes hand in hand with a growing need for marketing, advertising, and graphic design, especially in and around the larger cities, such as Dublin and Cork. Because of stunning sites like the Cliffs of Moher and sweeping fields speckled with ancient castle ruins, Ireland is a world-renowned tourist destination giving way to internship options in the tourism industry to help manage and promote these national treasures. Education and medical students can also find a myriads of positions to jumpstart their careers. After work hours, interns will have trouble deciding whether to catch the sunset over the unadulterated, awe-inspiring landscape or sign up for an Irish dance class.
Pros: Although Gaelic is one of Ireland’s official languages, English remains the predominant language in business and everyday use, making it easier for you to transition into your new home. Just because you can communicate in English, however, doesn’t mean you’ll know all the lingo necessary to help you be the best intern you can be! Brush up on your Irish slang to help you become a better integrated part of the team.
Cons: Regardless of where you come from, you will probably not have experienced four seasons in one day until you step foot in Ireland. Its location leaves the country exposed to extreme weather patterns swept in from the Atlantic Ocean causing crazy, unpredictable weather. Don’t forget to pack for all weather conditions, even if your internship is just a few weeks!
Particularly Awesome Internships:
A young nation that rose from the ashes of World War II, Israel has only been around for less than 100 years, and after decades of turmoil with its neighbors, has blossomed into a prosperous developed country. In the only full democracy in the Middle East, Israelis boast a crazy high level of education (about half the population holds a college degree!) and a deliciously healthy diet that may be partially responsible for the long lifespans. Israel holds a deep importance in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam because of the various sacred sites scattered throughout the country, contributing to its religious diversity and an ancient history dating well before the emergence of the country. By interning abroad in Israel, you’ll experience the unexpected and come away with a fresh, new perspective on your target industry and the “Holy Land.”
Dubbed the “Startup Nation”, Israel hosts a booming tech-culture comparable to that of Silicon Valley, and is therefore unsurprisingly one of the most innovative countries in the world. With so many international tech-firm and startups, it’s no wonder there’s a bounty of business and technology internships available in Israel. Apart from being one of the largest metropolitan hubs in Israel, the highly modern Tel Aviv is also the country’s financial center. A perfect contract of the old and new, Israel is also a great option for interning in archeology or museum studies. With so many sacred religious sites, museums, and uncovered ruins, there’s no end to the research and studies to be done. A great way to unwind is to soak in the health benefits of the Dead Sea while floating on this lowest land point on Earth.
Pros: Beaches, amazing food, and a history stretching millennia, what’s not to love about Israel? Apart from its refreshing taste and mouthwatering flavors, the Israeli diet incorporates many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients and will keep you feeling as young and invigorated as when you finished your dip in the Dead Sea. The main languages in Israel are Hebrew and Arabic, but because Israelis are so highly educated, you’ll be able to communicate just fine in English during your internship in Israel.
Cons: As a predominately Jewish nation, there are many customs that may be difficult to grow accustomed to if you aren’t familiar with Jewish culture. From sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, many stores, restaurants, and public transportation lines are closed in observance of the Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, especially in the more conservative city of Jerusalem. These closures are mandated by law and businesses that break them can be fined! Remember to plan ahead with your grocery shopping or else you might have a very hungry Saturday.
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Chewing gum here might get you into a sticky situation (it’s illegal), but completing an internship in Singapore is completely recommended. The “Lion City” is one of the few city-states in the world, the other two being Monaco and Vatican City. Numerous interesting and surprising tidbits about Singapore make it one of the world’s most colorful, diverse gems in the world and a symbol of modernity. Once a British colony, this multicultural island has since been busy building a highly developed country with an exceptional quality of life and physically expanding. Growing vertically has its limits, so Singapore has gradually increased its land area by about 25 percent over the past few decades through land reclamation projects. The next thing due to grow is your resume after you complete a gratifying and valuable internship where East meets West in this brilliantly futuristic city!
As a tax haven, wealthy investors and foreign companies have flocked here resulting in a booming international economy serving as a gateway into Asia’s economies. Find your footing in the global marketplace or in an exciting startup through internships in business, finance, and marketing. With its futuristic skyscrapers and high-rises that seem to defy the laws of physics, Singapore also provides awesome opportunities to intern within the architecture and engineering fields. As a city, state, AND country, Singapore also saves you the agony of having to decide where exactly you’ll want to intern within the country, because there is only one choice here.
Pros: Interning in Singapore will make you stand out from the crowd and provide you with insight into a flourishing Asian market. You’ll also have a chance to network with the head honchos of some of the top companies in the world. Although Singapore has the lowest fertility rate in the world, population stability is absolutely no challenge in a country where almost half the residents originate from abroad. This vast population diversity is mainly made up of people of Chinese, Indian, Malay, and European descent, giving way to an exciting culinary and cultural blend.
Cons: As an urban jungle and island with limited space, living in Singapore can get pricy. However, since you probably won’t be purchasing a home or car during your stay as an intern, the cost of living isn’t actually too bad. Unless you’re planning to feast at top-notch restaurants, food is quite affordable. In addition to a chewing gum ban, there are a few other strange laws to be aware of before setting foot in Singapore. Interns should also prepare for a sticky, humid climate year-round. Plan a workplace wardrobe that’s both professional and breathable!
Particularly Awesome Internships:
Imagine yourself interning abroad in Cuba, where you’ll be throw back in time walking through the streets of Havana, lined with classic cars and colonial architecture reminiscent of a lost era. This flamboyant nation is a crossroad of native, European, and African influences, which have given rise to a vibrant music scene and a succulent cuisine. When the United States’ embargo against Cuba was loosened in 2015, Americans were once again allowed to set foot on the largest island in the Caribbean for missionary work and educational purposes. As a newly emerging destination to intern abroad, Cuba is the perfect way to explore the unknown and gain professional experience in a country your friends and family have never been to.
Because visits purely for tourism purposes are still unavailable to U.S. citizens, interning in Cuba is the perfect way to quench that burning thirst to visit the Pearl of Antilles. Having been governed under the shadow of communism for over 50 years, Cuba has had its fair share of strained political relations making it an ideal location to intern within international relations. There are also opportunities to work with experts in the field of journalism and photography to learn about global news agencies. For those interested in marine biology and conserving adorable sea turtles, you’ll find your dream internships on the snow-white beaches of Guanahacabibes National Park. Keep your eye on this destination, because there will be tons of new programs popping up over the coming years to intern abroad in Cuba.
Pros: Because there are so few American clambering to get in on the tropical action, many of Cuba’s national parks and nature remain pristine and untouched. The entire island is literally surrounded by beaches, and its location between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in diverse ecosystems and topology. You can find jungles, mountains, and even a desert in Cuba.
When compared to other countries in Latin America or the Caribbean, Cuba is relatively safe and sees occasional incidents involving petty crime like pickpocketing. Due to a large police presence in highly-populated and touristy areas and strict government enforcement, violent crimes are minimal and rare. This ensures you can focus on your internship work without having to worry about how you’ll walk down the street in one piece.
Cons: A common struggle for students interning in Cuba might be the limited access to internet and, depending on where you are, nonexistent WiFi. Even if you’re in Cuba to gain some incredible professional and life experiences, communicating with loved ones back home is essential and the internet may be the only means to do so. Because the internet is controlled by the government and WiFi is scarce and very expensive, you’ll have to do some planning ahead if you intend on connecting to home through the world wide web.
Another potential bummer is Cuba’s hectic public transportation systems. There are bus routes running in the cities, but it’s anyone’s guess as to where the bus stops are and what the schedule is. If you’re not up for a sweaty, claustrophobic bus experience, opt for a taxi typically taken by other foreign visitors or hitchhike as the locals do.
Particularly Awesome Internships:
Hone your inner frontiersman and delve into the vast northern wilderness with an internship in Canada this year. This impressively huge landmass is the world’s second largest country, but only houses about a half percent of the global population, mostly clustered along the warmer latitudes of the U.S.-Canada border. Although the friendly Canadians still share a Queen with the Brits, their society today more closely reflects the United States’ and strong French influences remain imprinted in Quebec. This peaceful nation has a highly developed economy and social systems in which Canadians enjoy a comfortable quality of life and a multiethnic society. Ecologically responsible, sustainable, big on human rights, and just straight up good looking, what’s not to like? Grab your beaver hat and wool socks, and intern abroad in Canada!
With such a similar economy, culture, and language to that of the United States, it’s no wonder that virtually any internship is available to you in Canada, with the added perk of having a French-language option! Popular destinations include Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Montreal. While you won’t be interning with Mounties or on a maple syrup farm, there are still untraditional and uniquely Canadian options to choose from. Pack up your favorite ski gear and head to the slopes for an internship program that can get your certified as a snowboard or ski instructor. With such an abundance of nature, you can also work with animals in wildlife science. If you prefer the warmth and comfort of an office, look into interning in accounting, finance, or journalism in the bustling cities of Vancouver or Toronto.
Pros: There’s nothing like untamed frontier packed with glacial lakes, alpine forests, and herds of caribou majestically stampeding through the pristine landscape to entice you to complete an internship in Canada. You’ll have plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy outside of work.
The “friendly Canadian” isn’t a baseless stereotype, and you’ll find that in this immigrant country you’ll be welcomed with open arms. People hailing from all around the world have settled into Canada in the past few decades, building a tolerant and diverse population.
Cons: A downside to interning in Canada could be exorbitant rental prices in large cities such as Vancouver that are facing a housing market bubble partially caused by an influx of foreign investors. Unpaid interns should anticipate budgeting well in advance if they plan to life in these pricier cities, or aim for a more affordable location.
Particularly Awesome Internships:
With the best international internships in six out of the seven continents on our list, we’ve got the world’s deserts, rainforests, and chilly fjords covered. While it’s not certain if Antarctica will ever be sufficiently inhabited to make the cut, these marvelous destinations brimming over with internship opportunities will give you plenty to mull over when deciding where you’ll spend the summer or a semester abroad this year gaining professional experience. With world destinations suitable for each and every taste, we can guarantee you’ll find your dream internship in anywhere from the grassy cliffs of Ireland to the futuristic skyscrapers of Singapore.
SURPRISE! Intern Abroad Scholarships for Spring, Summer, & Fall 2017
Not sure if an unpaid internship across the world is in your budget this year? Luckily we know all the right people and organizations to help you out! The extra cash can help cover some expenses such as accommodations, food, or transportation. In addition to crowdfunding and fundraising initiatives, scholarships can significantly contribute to your budget to ensure that you can fully focus on your internship and get the most out of the experience.
Internship abroad scholarships aren’t as widespread and readily available as study abroad scholarships, but there are still some options out there designed for a specific country or program. Here a few fabulous options to get you started on your scholarship search:
- Whitaker International Program
- Global Experiences' Global Leadership Scholarship
- Christianson Grant
- AJC Goldman Fellowship