Throughout history, Western Europe has played a highly influential role in the development of world affairs, and to this day the region remains a central hub of global leadership and innovation. Landing an internship abroad in the beating heart of the West will place you amongst a thriving environment ripe with history, culture, and opportunity. Wherever you choose to pursue an internship in Western Europe, the international work experience you will gain will be invaluable, both professionally and personally. Interning abroad will help you become an experienced world citizen.
Though there is no hardline defining what exact region constitutes Western Europe, the area is commonly thought of as containing all the European countries which developed independently of the former Soviet Union. This corresponds roughly to Finland, Norway, and Sweden in the North, Germany down through Italy in the center, and France, Spain, and the UK along the far west. All in all, the region of Western Europe is comprised of some 25 different countries, giving those who choose internships abroad here great flexibility in choosing from among a broad set of diverse cultures and industries.
What specific country is best for an internship in Europe will depend heavily on your area of professional interest. Most Western European countries have advanced economies allowing for plenty of business opportunities, and many businesses will offer specialized placements, which may further entice you within a particular professional field. For example Switzerland would be a great place to intern in International Relations or for an NGO, Italy would be great to intern in Fashion or the Arts, and the UK would be great for banking or media placements.
Spend some time carefully researching different countries and what areas of their culture or economy may offer the best internship opportunities for your specific field of interest. Another major part of internships abroad is language immersion, so if you are interested in advancing your fluency in languages such as French, German, or Spanish, then entering a business environment where the language is spoken everyday can offer you an invaluable chance to do so.
Since most countries in Western Europe boast advanced economies, it is possible to find internships in countless fields of interest. Travelling to Western Europe to intern in Business, Marketing, Communications, International Relations, Finance, or the Arts can be a definitive experience which will expose you to highly enriching work environment while putting a gold star at the top of your resume. In the increasingly global environment, employers in most fields place a high premium on applicants with experience in a foreign or intercultural environment.
Beyond the private sphere it is also very possible to find internships abroad working with environmental protection agencies or non-profit organizations located across the western half of the continent. If your interests lie in the public sector or in service learning than Western Europe can offer many leading internship programs in the latter field. While other parts of the developing world may offer opportunities for more hands-on work with local communities, Western Europe is home to the headquarters of many successful organizations which present the chance to learn the ropes of handling administration.
The possibilities for internships in Europe are both broad and diverse, so try choosing a few areas of professional interest and a few countries which sound particularly enticing, then check to see what location or placements will offer you the most flourishing work environment.
Internships abroad for international students are most common during the summer time, when internships usually last a maximum of three months. But semester long internships in Europe are also possible for recent graduates or those who are taking a gap year.
Salary & Costs
Labor restriction laws vary across the continent, but in most cases you can expect your internship in Europe to be compensated with at least some combination of meals, housing, and transportation. Internships in more profitable fields, such as marketing or finance, are obviously more likely to pay interns for their services than placements in the arts or public sector, so keep this in mind when researching different opportunities.
Some internships abroad in Western Europe will also include the opportunity to study and gain academic credit while gaining international work experience. This can be a great way to learn about multiple facets of your host country, if you are still enrolled in school. Program fees can sometimes be quite expensive, so consult your home university about financial aid opportunities.
Accommodation & Visas
Most individuals who intern abroad in Western Europe will be provided with the opportunity to live with a host family or independently in a flat. Homestays are a great way to fully immerse yourself in the local culture while also serving as a consistent outlet for language practice (and the frequent home-cooked meals are certainly nothing to complain about as well). Living in a flat, either independently or with roommates, is a good way to lead a more autonomous lifestyle while abroad and can give you more freedom to customize your own experience. All housing options have pros and cons, so discuss your options early on to find out which is best suited for your expectations.
Most countries in Western Europe will allow you to intern abroad for up to 90 days without applying for a visa, meaning internships which last less than three months will not require a visa. The situation becomes a bit more complicated if you are being paid for your internship work, as you may have to apply for a working visa depending on the labor policies of your host country. For more information on the visa procedures of different countries consult our Goabroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
In today’s rapidly globalizing world, internships abroad can be the key to broadening your cultural horizons while earning highly valuable international work experience. Western Europe is a highly flourishing region of the world which can present numerous fruitful opportunities in whatever your field of professional interest.
While the language and cultural barriers often require a significant degree of adaptation, this is what makes the whole process a tremendous opportunity for growth. In Western Europe there will be no shortage of opportunities for travel too, which will make your internship abroad an even more life-changing, rewarding journey.