The continent of Asia has an incredibly broad and diverse mixture of cultures, languages, and economic structures. Coming from the West, interns will gain exposure to an entirely new way of life and gain invaluable global experience within their field of interest. Whether working in a highly developed Tiger Economy, a rapidly developing Tiger Cub economy, or anywhere beyond, internships in Asia will provide professional and personal development experience which will enrich interns’ lives beyond measure.
Asia is the largest continent in the world, so obviously your choice of locations for internships in Asia will be plentiful. The most common countries to pursue an internship in the Far East are Japan, South Korea, and China. Each has a distinctly unique culture and is at a different phase of economic development: Japan is a highly advanced economy, South Korea is a developed Tiger Economy, and China is a developing economy. The types of available internships in Asia will vary according to the state of the nation’s economy.
Southeast Asia presents an interesting blend of cultures and landscapes in which to intern abroad as well. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are collectively referred to as the four Tiger Cub economies because of their promising potential for industrial development in the coming years, making each nation an exciting and fruitful place to pursue an internship abroad. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore are three highly developed economies which are also great places for internships abroad in Southeast Asia.
Further to the west lies India, a massive subcontinent of its own which remains in the fledgling stages of industrialization. Many Indian cities boast headquarters of large global companies, while underdeveloped rural areas offer many internships with NGOs and other international organizations. Other potential placements in this region are Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
There are many more countries where you can find internships in Asia too, so do your research carefully and pick a destination that matches the internship experience you are looking for. Some additional factors to consider are travel opportunities, climate, infrastructural development, and cultural differences.
Internships in Asia
Available internship in Asia will vary most heavily on the nation’s economic development. For example, if you are pursuing a career in international business, finance, or marketing then you would likely want to pursue a placement in a largely, developed economy, such as Japan, China, Singapore, or South Korea. These destinations offer many internship opportunities working with globally integrated companies or organizations which can greatly boost your career prospects well in to the future.
Developing economies, such as that of India and the Philippines, offer great internships abroad in fields like international development, public service, healthcare, and education. Living in a developing country may come with its fair dose of culture shock; but stepping out of your comfort zone to pursue an internship abroad in these less developed regions will prove to be a tremendous opportunity for growth, and also greatly impress potential employers by illustrating your adaptability and flexibility.
Language. The language barrier can be a hindrance to a successful internship in many Asian countries where English is not the universal language of business, so if language study is not part of your plan, then internship possibilities will become slightly limited. However, there are plenty of internships in Asia for English speaking interns.
Duration. Most internships in Asia last either for a few months over the summer, or for six months during the fall or spring semesters. Many internship programs also combine work experience with the possibility of obtaining academic credit, so prospective interns who are still in school can consider this path as well.
Salary & Costs
Internships abroad in Asia can be both paid or unpaid, depending on the industry you are placed in and your country of choice. Less developed nations tend to have minimal paid opportunities while paid internships in larger nations like China or highly industrialized nations like Japan are common and well paid.
The good news is that in most places the everyday cost of living will be much less expensive than in Western countries, so you can expect to save up some money relative to if you were pursuing an internship abroad in Europe. Prices of goods in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong can be quite expensive, but in most other regions of the continent you can expect daily living costs to be affordable.
Accommodation & Visas
The type of accommodation available for those who intern in Asia will vary based on a few different factors, such as your specific location within the country (urban vs. rural), population density, and economic development of the country. If you are interning in Asia in a developing area then often you may be living under quite basic conditions (i.e. bucket showers, spotty Wi-Fi, eastern toilets, etc.), so prepare yourself for a more simple life. Many internship programs will offer interns the option of living in a homestay or independently in a flat.
Visa policies vary between different countries across Asia. In some you may be able to obtain the necessary visa upon arrival, in others you may have to apply in advance for a special visa to complete an internship. Communicate with your internship program provider or prospective employer early on about what your visa will require.
Benefits & Challenges
Coming from the western world, it is easy to overlook how large, important, and autonomous a region the whole eastern hemisphere of Asia is. However travelling to the continent as an intern will give you insight into an entirely new way of life, with a rich history, vast economic opportunity, and cultural diversity. Those who intern abroad in Asia will be challenged to adapt and learn while developing a more complete perspective of the modern globalizing state of their industry. Are you ready to make the leap?