Many people take a gap year because they simply haven’t had the experience yet to answer the question, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” Internships for gap year students are a chance to get valuable work experience while trying a career. You’ll end the year with new skills, a full resume, and a better understanding of your area of interest. Thinking about a career field but want to try it in a real way first? Find the gap year internship program for you!
You can find gap year internships almost anywhere in the world, so if you have a dream country in mind, go for it! Even so, there are some spots that attract gap year interns over and over because of their program offerings, which can be a great place to start looking.
United States. Okay, if you’re from the US you might be thinking, “But on my gap year I want to travel!” Well, the US is a big place! Even if you’re American, an internship in the US could take you 3,000 miles from home into a whole new culture. Whether you want to volunteer at a development organization, work at an innovative startup, or dive into the corporate world, the US has it. Those who dream of doing gap year internships in the fields of technology, media, politics, finance, and communications may be lead to the American experience.
Argentina. Argentina offers internships for gap year students in corporate fields such as law, marketing, and business without sacrificing the opportunity to live in a vibrant, life-loving culture. With spectacular mountains, great beaches, and some of the best food and wine in South America, Argentina can be a great opportunity for Spanish-speakers to get corporate experience and improve their language skills. Improved language fluency can be one of the biggest benefits of a gap year internship abroad, so the challenge will pay off!
England. Despite being relatively expensive and lacking some of the “wow!” factor of other far-flung destinations, England is popular for gap year internship programs abroad. Why? Start with a collections of big, powerful, global companies offering internships in fields such as design, banking, and business. Add the chance to make big moves on your resume while doing some pub-hopping on the weekends. Subtract the language barrier. What you have is an equation for great internships for gap year students.
Everything Else You Need to Know about Gap Year Internship Programs
Costs. Many students are surprised to find that gap year internship programs have a cost - after all, aren’t you doing the work? But finding or creating a quality internship, securing visas or other permits, providing support staff, and supervising and teaching interns can be quite difficult and costly, so there is often a fee for gap year internship programs. Take a careful look at what is included and what’s not and don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. Is housing included? Visa? Are they clear about what you’ll learn and do? Is the position guaranteed? This research can help you decide if the program fee is a good investment for you. You can fundraise to help support your efforts, especially if you are working for a non-profit or development organization.
Accommodations. Accommodation can vary widely depending on how full-service a gap year program you choose. Some programs may require you to find your own housing, while others may house you in simple, shared apartments or even as a group in dorms. Simple apartments, sometimes requiring public transportation, are likely the most common.
Visas: Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of planning your gap year internship abroad through a program is that they can assist you in understanding what if any visa is needed and securing that visa. Generally visa fees are not included in program fees. Doing a gap year internship in your own country can be a great solution if you are having trouble meeting visa requirements for your dream destination. Need to find an embassy to secure your visa? Start here.
Safety: You can greatly minimize the risk and danger of living and traveling somewhere new by taking some basic common-sense precautions. Know and follow the local laws, keep your wits about you (this means stopping before one-too-many drinks at the pub), and if you feel that something isn’t right, ask your program support staff for assistance. Gap year internships abroad can be daunting but, just like at home, most of the risks can be mitigated by following the law and being respectful of local culture.
GoAbroad's Inside Scoop
When it comes to gap year internship programs, focus on the now and the then.
What does that mean? Make sure you aren’t so focused on what happens when the gap year ends that you miss out on the now — take advantage of being somewhere new on your own! Try the local food. Take a dance class. Invite people from your office out after work. These things will enhance your experience and make it truly special.
At the same time, plan for the then. At your internship, keep your goals in mind and try to look for opportunities that complement your experience. Do an excellent job at your tasks and ask for more. Keep a record of everything you do and everyone you work with — you never know what may be relevant at your next job!
Pro-tip: don’t forget to dress the part. Yes, this is your gap year, but it’s a time to impress, so find out the dress code and err toward the more formal and conservative side. Once you go right from work to the airport for a weekend excursion and use your blazer as an in-flight pillow, you’ll know you really made it.
The search for gap year internships is not so different from the college search: it takes reading, comparing, and searching for the perfect fit. When you find it, you’ll know!
Keep reading! Explore the Pros and Cons of Organized Gap Year Programs Abroad.