International Trade Internships Abroad

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A Guide to International Trade Internships Abroad

You’ve read your economics books (sometimes painstakingly), given more than your fair share of presentations on global supply chains, and have smugly convinced your friends (and anyone who will listen) that trade relations are the secret to world peace. Now it is time to cash in on your education and launch your global career; what better way to get started than with an international internship? In order to fully understand international trade, students must travel the world and widen their perspectives. Become the “Jack or Jill of all trades,” take control of your employability, and look for an internship abroad in international trade! 

Why Intern Abroad

It’s right there in the name: international trade. It is obvious that an international trade internship abroad is a necessary addition to any individual’s resume who wants to work in the field. The field of international trade isn’t trading marbles or baseball cards on the playground. To really understand international trade, you need to see how other countries regulate and participate in trade, and how each culture, and their values, dictate trade on a global scale.

Interning in a foreign company will grant you a more holistic understanding of the industry. You’ll be privy to a global perspective at every business stage: from early commercial negotiations to sourcing quality suppliers to moving products along the supply chain to finally entering consumer markets. You’ll gain hands-on experience in the areas of the field that most excite you, and be exposed to types of international trade jobs you didn’t know existed.

International trade is all about three things: networking, networking, and more networking. International trade internships are excellent opportunities to build relationships with other professionals; after all, interning abroad is meant to maximize and globalize your network.

By boasting an internship in international trade on your shiny resume, you’ll already be showing future employers that you have what it takes to interact successfully with businessmen and women in the global marketplace. Who knows, maybe you will meet your future employer?! #hired


Taxes, tariffs, and customs, oh my! When it comes to choosing a destination for your international trade internship abroad, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Virtually every country on the planet is involved in trade to some degree, and many could benefit from the intellect and skillset you possess!

Switzerland. With both the World Trade Organization and International Trade Center headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland is should be the first port of call for interns looking to break into the field of international trade. You’ll have your finger on the pulse of international trade while interning in Switzerland, and an internship with WTO, ITC, UN, or any of their subsidiaries and collaborators will give you experience developing marketing strategies and distribution channels, handling trade logistics, and analysing the environmental impact of specific trade projects across the globe. 

China. The Silk Road was a good start for China’s now famously-prevalent hand in international trade; in fact, exports comprise over 25 percent of China’s GDP. Giant trade hubs of China include Shanghai and Guangzhou, where biz talk among friends is commonplace even outside of work. Interns particularly interested in outsourcing practices, ground level production processes, and Asian cultures will be especially satisfied with international trade internship opportunities in East Asia (just don’t talk about trading pandas, it’s generally frowned upon). Pay tribute to all of your “Made in China” possessions by completing an international trade internship in China.

South Africa. For an international trade internship experience that combines professional experience with some fantastic opportunities for adventure, South Africa is always a popular choice. Cape Town is a particularly common destination, especially for interns looking to get their foot in the door of the international business world, with a little bit of fun in the sun thrown in. Beyond the beaches, mountains, safari game reserves, museums, and shopping centers, some of the largest import and export companies on the African continent conduct business in and out of Cape Town. It’s a great place to learn about economic interactions, not just internationally, but interculturally as well. South Africa is known as the rainbow nation, with many different cultures intersecting and coexisting, making it a great place to observe trade practices on micro and macro scales.

International Trade Internships

You might be wondering what type of international trade internships exist for someone like you! We are happy to share some great news; there are trade internships abroad available in big businesses, smaller private enterprises, and even the foreign service. 

Help small or medium enterprise’s break into new foreign markets. A small fraction of small/medium enterprises (SME’s) have access to exports and trade. Interns can help companies get into the game by offering consulting services, which will keep them busy forecasting demand, analyzing market competition, and studying the impact of economic variables and government policies.

Import-export assistance. Work closely with SME’s, local government organizations, chambers of commerce, and distributors and wholesalers to assess risk, evaluate clients, and study market data, in order to develop strategies for international trade operations (try saying that five times fast!). With a strong background in business and trade, and a dash of intercultural communication skills, an international trade internship in import-export assistance will make you unstoppable in the global job market. Watch out world! 

Governmental trade. International trade majors more drawn to work on the political side of international business may find internships in consulates and embassies abroad. These types of international trade internships will often revolve around writing reports and researching, studying environmental issues, and tracking budgets and tax revenue. These internships will allow individuals to have an impact on national political trade procedures, which is a pretty sweet bullet point to add to your resume.

Translation work. If you’re a student who boasts fluency in multiple languages, you may be a big help to foreign companies seeking to expand their consumer markets. You could help Spanish olives make their way to the United States or French macaroons get in the hands of Aussies. This type of international trade internship abroad may entail updating website content, connecting with potential partners over the phone, and seeking out new suppliers. Interns could have an immediate impact by bringing their host company’s products to the world.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Gain concrete insight on one TYPE of trade. Witnessing trade policies while on-the-ground will provide good fodder for conversation and understanding. Is this the best way to trade? Who is benefiting from trade? Are there approaches (i.e. fair trade, free trade, protectionism, balanced trade) that may be a more practical system? Be sure to process and reflect on your internship experience to deepen your understandings of the work you do and international trade as a whole.

Learn your trade from the inside out. You’ll play an active role in our fast moving global economy, and get a taste for the intensity of the industry. An international internship in trade will have you working closely with professionals in the field, ones who can mentor you and teach you the tricks of the trade (but seriously, there are tricks of international trade). 

Travel, baby! Internships in international trade will give you opportunities to visit far-flung destinations you never thought you’d visit, and to see an underlying aspect of a new country that many average-joe-travelers are not aware of. The world gets smaller and less scary when you venture out into it, unlike your stock portfolio.

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A Guide To
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