7 Things to Know Before You Intern Abroad 

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 Want to travel the world, boost your resume, AND learn valuable professional skills all at the same time? Can’t decide if you want to continue with your studies or venture into the “real world” by working abroad? Get the best of both worlds with an internship abroad

Woman shaking hand on first day of internship

Plan goals in advance to have the most powerful internship experience possible.

Internships abroad are the best opportunity for young people wanting to invest in a meaningful international travel experience. You can gain college credit and international business experience at once, learn more versatile skills than you would inside the classroom, and get a feel for your future career path. Whether you’re a student or a recent grad, have a summer or a semester, want to spend your time in a corporate office in a busy city or saving the sea turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, the opportunities are endless. 

You may be asking yourself, what should I expect from an internship abroad? or what is an internship like? GoAbroad has you covered! Here are all the things to know before you intern abroad! 

Interning abroad FAQs

What exactly do you need to know about internships abroad? Keep reading to find out. 

1. Where are popular places to find internships abroad? 

Let’s get started: where will you find your internship abroad? Placements are available on nearly every continent on the planet. Here are GoAbroad’s top picks.  

  • China. Intern abroad in one of the world’s most influential countries. China has one of the fastest growing economies with internships available in nearly every industry. Interns can choose from over 100 cities: get lost in the capital of Beijing, join the largest economic powerhouse in Shanghai, or explore smaller cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Although internships in China offer the challenge of a new language and culture shock, they also give access to endless learning opportunities in a global network.  
  • Australia. The land down unda’ is an excellent location for interns abroad. Australia offers a beautiful natural environment for outdoorsy interns and the native language makes interning abroad easy! With a booming economy, Australia is one of the most popular destinations for internships abroad, with placements in every major city in hospitality, marketing, and even wildlife conservation. Intern in the tourism capital of Sydney, or soak up the art and culture of Melbourne. Still studying? Consider one of these awesome student internships
  • England. What should I expect from an internship in England? Well, it’ll be much more than just tea runs! Internships abroad in England are popular and competitive, with opportunities in any field. London offers the quintessential British experience, boasting worldwide brand names like Burberry, Shell, and BP. You’ll find placements in marketing, graphic design, and any form of communication – and you’ll have so much to do outside the office, too! 
  • Argentina. Test your Spanish skills in this emerging superpower in South America! Argentina has one of the largest economies in Latin America and is on the rise for global power. Most interns will choose a placement in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s largest city and economic, political, and cultural hub. Want a more local experience? Consider staying away from the top tourist destinations and intern abroad in Cordoba, Salta, or Mendoza. You’ll be in for true cultural and language immersion. You won’t regret an internship abroad in Argentina!

It can be quite overwhelming to begin your search, but GoAbroad’s Online Advisor makes it easier. Fill out your profile with personal details and travel dreams, and GoAbroad will provide the best information to help you achieve your goals. 

[Get Matched with 5 International Internships for FREE →]

2. Are summer internships abroad the most popular? 

While internships abroad come in all shapes and sizes, summer internships abroad tend to be the most popular. After all, you have the time off from school, so why not fill your free time with something valuable? If you can travel while you’re at it, you’ve hit the jackpot! 

Two women doing an internship abroad

Business norms differ from country-to-country; anticipate it taking a few weeks to get into the groove.

Summers offer the perfect timeframe to get a glimpse of an international work environment and gain professional skills without majorly interrupting life at home. While the time flies by, you can surprisingly gain tons of valuable experience in just a month or two. 

Too late for summer? Winter break internships are another awesome choice! 

3. What are the most common fields or foci for internships abroad? 

To know what is an internship like, you first need to narrow down the field. Here are some of the most common foci for internship abroad. 

  • Business. Learn the basics of international business and management strategies with an internship abroad in business. If you’re seeking an international career, this is your best bet to getting your foot in the door of an international company. Whether you want to work in accounting, human resources, or business planning, this is a great opportunity to shadow senior employees and earn academic credit. 
  • Marketing. Calling all creative thinkers! If communication is your strong point, consider an internship abroad in marketing. This popular field is incredibly diverse, with opportunities in social media, public relations, advertising, and graphic design. If you have a little knowledge in this field, academic or professional, it will take you a long way and open doors in countries all over the world. 
  • Hospitality. Another popular field for internships abroad is hospitality, and it’s usually the most flexible. No matter your past work experience or future goals, interns can find placements in hospitality in every corner of the earth. Whether you want to work in a restaurant or hotel, or branch out to tourism and event planning, interns will learn valuable customer service skills to help in any field. Even better: doors will open for endless travel opportunities. Ever dreamed of spending the summer on a cruise ship?!  
  • Medical. Every med student needs to participate in an internship in order to earn a degree, so why not gain international work experience while you’re at it? In an international workplace, you’re exposed to new methods of medicine and can bring your own knowledge to underprivileged populations. While most medical internships involve lots of shadowing, your placement is highly based on your skills and experience. Prep for 48-hour hospital shifts, implement healthcare regimes, or educate foreign countries. You’ll return home with a leg up in the industry. 
  • Marine Science. While internships in business or hospitality can take you anywhere, marine science interns will be limited. This just means you’ll find yourself on islands near beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, Fiji, Australia, or Thailand. Most marine science internships combine lab and fieldwork, so you can put your knowledge to the test. Make a difference by conserving the coral reefs or assisting with sea turtle rehabilitation. And, hey, while you’re at it why not earn that diving certification! 

4. How long are internship abroad programs typically? 

How long you got? One thing you’ll need to know before you start your internship is how much time you have to commit to your program. The good news is placements are flexible. Consider the destination, desired field, and your own schedule when searching for internships abroad.  

On average, internships abroad usually last between three and six months. Recent grads can find six month placements to transition into full time paid work abroad, too! Remember that employers are usually flexible with internships compared with full time positions, so you can always negotiate the time commitment based on your own schedule. 

Three girls shopping during their internship abroad

Interning abroad isn’t ALL work and NO play… International shopping spree, anyone?!

Short on time? An internship abroad could still be the right move! Even if you only have a couple weeks, short internships still make a big impact.  

5. What are the requirements to participate in internships overseas? 

Most internships abroad are best suited for college students or recent graduates, but every program has different requirements. While some require you to be enrolled in full-time study or within 12 months of graduation, others are open to experienced professionals. 

Typically, you need to be at least 18 years old with solid academic credentials or experience in your desired field. Best to check with your individual program providers for further requirements. 

 6. Will I get paid? 

Money, money, money—it’ll go through every intern’s mind when choosing a program and is definitely something you need to know before you start your internship abroad. Typically, internships abroad are unpaid, but you’ll likely get compensated with food and accommodation, and maybe even transportation costs and excursions. You can often get academic credit for internships abroad, too. Paying for internships abroad is pretty commonplace (and this how-to guide can help make it less financially stressful).

Don't let finances be a deal breaker! Start budgeting and saving well in advance, and consider fundraising or scholarships to compensate for the rest. While you may come home with a major dent in your savings, think of your internship as an investment in your future: the knowledge and world experience you gain will leave you much richer than you’d ever imagined.  

If you’re extremely lucky, you might happen upon a pot of gold in the internship world… a paid internship abroad! They’re out there, and we’ve done the hard work to collect the best of the best opportunities → 

[Find All Of GoAbroad’s Secrets For Your Paid Internships Abroad Search Here]

 7. What are “internship program providers” and how can they help me? 

While it’s always possible to land an internship abroad on your own, internship program providers can make the process much easier. For a fee, your program provider will eliminate the stress, connect with companies for you, find you a placement, assist with paperwork, and even help with visas, accommodation, and flights. 

IES Internships logo

IES Internships

This nonprofit organization has been offering study abroad and internship programs since 1950. Whether you want to spend a summer in Dublin or a semester in Shanghai combining cultural immersion with professional skills development, IES Internships can help by finding you a placement to complement your studies abroad. Your provider will teach you valuable resume and interview skills before you jet off to your destination. 

Maximo Nivel logo

Maximo Nivel

Maximo Nivel offers internship placement throughout Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Learn the ins and outs of hospitality, education, tourism, or human rights while taking Spanish language immersion classes. In your free time, you can take free salsa or cooking classes to immerse in the culture and meet fellow interns, earn your certification in SCUBA or yoga, and take up surfing on beautiful beaches. 

Global Experiences logo

Global Experiences

Intern abroad for up to nine months with Global Experiences, an organization that has been offering international internships since 2001! There are nine fabulous destinations to choose from, not to mention dozens of sectors. Your program combines study, internship, and adventure travel as you prepare for the future and explore your passions. 

Intern Abroad HQ logo

Intern Abroad HQ

Intern Abroad HQ is for every intern, providing placements for students, interns on a gap year, or young professionals looking for short-term career enhancement. You’ll have many diverse fields to choose from with HQ, from animal care to business, healthcare to tourism, and everything in between. With placement, accommodation, airport pickup, and 24/7 in-country support, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your internship abroad. 

GoEco logo

GoEco

Environmentalists and philanthropists will love GoEco, one of the world’s top volunteer organizations. With volunteer and internship placements available throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, interns have endless opportunities to bring positive change to developing areas of the world. Placements start as cheap as $5 per day. Empower woman in Kathmandu, teach underprivileged children in the Galapagos, or conserve the habitat of whale sharks in Mozambique. The world is waiting for YOU! 

Still wondering what should I expect from an internship? Check out this advice on how to pick the right program provider for you

You’re ready to begin coordinating your internship abroad

Group of people interning abroad

Change your career trajectory, have an adventure, practice being your best business self. Yeah, interning abroad means ALL that and more!

What are you waiting for? Now that you have all the info you need to know about internships, it's just a matter of diving in. With an internship abroad, you'll gain valuable skills and international street cred, uncover hidden talents, and discover new potential career paths. More importantly, you'll be in inspiration for others who dream of going abroad.

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