All over the world, development is catching on as one of the most acknowledgedly important fields of work in creating a better future for our planet. Inequality is rampant on the global stage, and individuals who devote themselves to development efforts play a valuable role by putting in the work to level the playing field. Within this broad and interdisciplinary scope, a development internship abroad can be the first step towards doing something great with your career.
Why Intern Abroad in Development
In a way, human civilization has always been, and always will be, developing. Now that our world has become so interconnected to the point that decisions made in one place can drastically affect outcomes in another, the global community has begun to rally in an effort to harness and direct these effects in a more positive direction. Making the leap to intern abroad in development will give you the on-the-ground experience and exposure that has the power to shape you not only as a young professional, but as a world citizen.
What qualifies a country as “developing” is a continuous matter of debate, but statistics that lead to this categorization generally include income per capita, rate of literacy, life expectancy rate, and other such measures of human development. Numbers and figures can still often prove deceiving, however, because even countries with some of the most powerful economies in the world continue to struggle through high rates of poverty and inequality (for instance the BRICs countries of Brazil and China).
Nevertheless some countries have less access to resources or are less stable than others, and these are generally the most popular destinations where to intern abroad in development. As a general framework, the global south is for the most part less developed economically than the global north. For instance many sub-Saharan African countries such as Cameroon and Zimbabwe sit towards the bottom of global development rankings in many measures.
Other major regions of the world that are less developed in a relative sense include Southeast Asia and Central America. Countries ranging all the way from Costa Rica and Haiti in the western hemisphere to Thailand and Vietnam in the east thus can also be very productive destinations where to intern abroad in development.
Development is an incredibly broad professional area that encompasses many more specific industries within. Government, economics, engineering, medicine, education, environmental studies, urban planning: all these fields and many more have their place in the overarching framework of development, and all can be applied toward the combined effort to create infrastructure and opportunity for the world’s less fortunate.
So while it may be impossible to peg a single type of development internship abroad considering all the different types of work the field encompasses, the principal point is that essentially any subject area you’ve studied can be applied toward some sort of development work. Most of the highest level development planning comes from NGOs or otherwise international organizations, while concrete on-the-ground projects are often the terrain of more localized groups or administrations.
Both of these branches of development (high-level planning, on-the-ground implementation) can be equally rewarding formats to being with a development internship abroad, depending on your ultimate career ambitions. Most development internships abroad tend to last between three and six months, and some can also offer the opportunity to earn academic credit along with your daily work. Not a bad option for those still enrolled in school and looking to get a step ahead!
Benefits & Challenges
Firsthand Experience. Learning about various aspects of development in a university setting can equip you with valuable knowledge, but nothing can stand in for the first-hand experience you will gain through a development internship abroad. It’s time to get out into the field!
Localized Impact. Embarking on a development internship abroad is an incredible opportunity to travel, gain professional experience, start building a global network, and, most importantly, help leave a positive impact on the community where you work. What is there not to like?
Push Yourself. No one said it would be easy. Culture shock while adjusting to a new environment can provide difficult at first, but accepting the challenge head on will only sweeten the ultimate reward.
Embarking on a development internship abroad can be a truly formative experience for individuals from all over the world. Travelling to another country, witnessing an entirely new way of life, and working together to build a more serviceable infrastructure has the power to inspire a brighter future for our planet. The time has come to start making a difference!