An international internship in tourism is an essential part of a well-rounded understanding of the hospitality industry. With global travel on the rise, a tourism internship abroad will give you an understanding of how to cater to international clientele. You will also get a glimpse into the operations and customs of a hotel or resort in another country, which can expand your own ideas of the hospitality industry. Tourism internships will help interns build skills in communication, flexibility, adaptability, and self-confidence, and learn about hotel management, tourism, marketing, reception, event planning, tours, or conference management.
Why Intern Abroad in Tourism
By interning abroad in tourism you will be able to develop a real-world understanding of the theory and ideas you have learned about in the classroom. As you’ll soon find out, working abroad in a hotel or resort is a fast-paced and ever-changing environment, with new guests and new events each day.
Through communicating with and getting to know the other hospitality professionals and guests, you will gain insight into the culture and dynamic of the workplace. You’ll get an idea of the hard and soft skills needed to succeed in a career in tourism or hotel management, such as organization, attention to detail, patience, time management, and cross-cultural understanding. In addition, you will get to be a part of a working team of other people who lead and support the tourism industry.
If you are interested in practicing your language skills, consider a tourism internship abroad in a non-English speaking country. You’ll most likely still meet many guests and other workers who are English-speakers, since it’s so important in the tourism industry to have a working knowledge of English, however you will also learn specific hospitality-related vocabulary that you won’t pick up in the classroom. The new vocab you learn abroad could come in handy if you work abroad or even back in the U.S. with foreign travelers.
Whether you’re interning abroad in another language or not, by interning abroad you’ll gain practical work experience that will set you apart from other tourism job applicants and give yourself a boost over the competition. If you are hoping to work for a hotel or resort with international locations, your tourism internships abroad will be an excellent start to your career.
There are many choices for international internships in tourism. Below are a few favorites, but these are by no means the only locations around the world to intern in tourism!
New Zealand is an incredible choice for tourism internships abroad, specifically if you are interested in working with adventure tours or sustainable tourism. New Zealand is one of the most popular destinations in the world for all things outdoors, including bungee jumping, skydiving, kayaking, trekking, and camping, and also offers a wide variety of hospitality internship opportunities. Compared to clientele in other areas of the world, you may find that interning in tourism in New Zealand is a bit more focused on being active and exploring.
Chile is a smart choice for an internship abroad in tourism if you want to work on your Spanish language skills as well as work in a country that is a relatively new when it comes to popularity as a tourist destination. Recently, Chile’s tourism board launched massive campaigns to recruit travelers and businesses to come to Chile. You should be prepared to hear a different type of Spanish than you’re probably used to from the classroom or other locations in Latin America if interning in Chile, as Chileans speak very quickly and with a lot of slang! In addition to the bustling city of Santiago and the charming Valparaiso, Chile also offers more of an outdoor tourism focus in the Northern desert and Southern Patagonia regions.
Spain is a natural choice for tourism internships abroad because of its popularity as a vacation destination for people from Europe and the rest of the world. If you are looking to practice your Spanish language skills or work in some of the most bustling cities for tourism, interning in Spain is an excellent choice. Both Barcelona and Madrid are home to world-class hospitality and frequently host large tourism events, giving you the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes. If you are interested in working in a smaller city or town, the southern part of Spain is filled with smaller cities that are well-visited by people on holiday.
If you’re still looking for a few more ideas for international internships in the tourism industry, consider Australia, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, or Italy.
Tourism Internships Abroad
The ideal tourism intern is energetic, hardworking, independent, and has strong interpersonal skills. You should have an interest in customer service and a desire to learn about local activities and events. Previous experience or courses in the hospitality field are a plus but generally not a requirement for tourism internships abroad. Even if you are interested in interning abroad in a country that does not speak English, there are usually many internships in an English-speaking role, especially in the field of tourism.
Many different types of companies provide tourism internships abroad, including multinational hotels, tour guide and planning groups, specialized tour organizations, hostels, and tourism boards. Specific tasks could be working on bookings, guest relations, administration, reception, leading tours, translating, marketing, creating guides, and running social media.
Most International tourism internships last between 25 and 35 hours per week. Depending on your exact international internship, you may be working outside of a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, including evening events or weekend activities. In general you can find excellent placements in hospitality abroad at any time of the year, however depending on your country of interest it may be good to keep in mind the main tourist seasons. You may also want to research if there are any festivals or holidays that are of interest, since oftentimes tourism organizations will coordinate internships around these celebrations or events.
- Give Tourism a Test Drive. An internship abroad in tourism is valuable because it gives you a chance to experience working full-time in the hospitality and tourism industry. You will learn the day-to-day tasks and roles, as well as be able to get a better idea of what you want to focus on in your career. You may learn that you love coordinating and booking tours, but actually leading them is not for you. Alternatively, you might discover a love of working for a small bed and breakfast, even though you thought you wanted to work for a multinational hotel chain.
- Learn Global Contexts. Your international internship in tourism will give you a better understanding of cross-cultural communication and let you see how tourism operates in another country. If you choose to intern abroad somewhere that allows you to develop skills in an additional language, this will further set you apart in your career. Regardless of where you intern abroad in tourism, you will learn how to work under pressure, be a part of a team, and think on your feet. A global perspective is increasingly important for those working in tourism abroad, and a tourism internship abroad is an important first step.
Without being on the ground and learning the realities of working in tourism, you will only be able to understand this industry through classes or books. Besides the training and skills development, interning abroad in tourism gives you a boost on your resume and in future job application.