Interning Abroad: 10 Reasons to Go Global

For college students planning careers in government or international business, the decision to intern abroad might be an obvious one. Even if you have no intention of entering a global career, however, you can still benefit from living and working in a foreign coun

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Globalization is a reality of the modern world, and many businesses seek out employees with skill sets geared toward international collaboration and partnership. Knowing this, every college student should take advantage of the opportunity to intern overseas before graduating.

If you’ve never considered interning abroad, here are the top ten reasons to “go global”:

1. It’s a great way to make your resume stand out.
If five recent graduates with the same degree apply for the same job, but only one of them interned in Germany for six months, who do you think gets called in for an interview? Setting yourself apart is critical if you want to catch the eye of a recruiter.

2. You can earn college credit and gain experience while traveling the world.
Have you dreamed of traveling to London? Munich? Sydney? Tokyo? Johannesburg? By interning abroad, you can live that dream, and earn college credit at the same time!

3. You’ll make connections in places you’d never imagined.
If you hope to live and work overseas, it’s a good idea to make connections who can help you apply for a permanent residency visa. Even if you don’t want to work overseas after you graduate, it doesn’t hurt to have a friend in Hong Kong or Buenos Aires who can put in a good word for you if you ever return there.

4. Working with people from different cultural backgrounds will teach you to be patient and open-minded.
Collaboration is vital to innovation, but it isn’t always easy to reconcile different points of view. An internship abroad will help make you a better team player by teaching you to understand and accept diverse ideas      

5. Learning a foreign language will make you an indispensable asset.
The French have a saying: “A man who speaks two languages is worth two men.” This has never been more true than in today’s globalized world. If you speak more than one language, no matter what your career, you will be twice as valuable to your future employers.

6. You will improve essential communication skills.
When your neighbor in Barcelona shows up at your door, shouting at you in unintelligible dialect, you’ll have to rely on body language and other types of non-verbal communication to deduce that your washing machine is leaking water into her apartment. Developing those skills will make you a better all-around communicator.

7. You will be forced to leave your comfort zone—and that’s a good thing.
The ability to adapt quickly and handle unexpected setbacks is a quality many employers value. When you live in a foreign country, especially a non-English-speaking country, adapting is not an option. If you’re smart, you’ll learn to go with the flow and keep a cool head under pressure.

8. In some countries, your English skills might land you a job that you would never qualify for in the States.
Though many well-educated foreigners have some knowledge of English, most are not quite fluent. Foreign companies need native English speakers to do business with the U.S., and that means you might get to do work in an overseas internship that would otherwise be reserved for an experienced professional. This is a great way to get hands-on experience in your field and take your resume to the next level.

9. Experiencing life in a foreign country will make you a better person.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” wrote Mark Twain. After immersing yourself in another country’s culture, you’ll stop seeing racial stereotypes and start seeing individuals, each living with his or her daily share of joy and sorrow.

10. Why not intern abroad?
At no other time in your life will you be free to travel without leaving your job or family behind (besides quick vacation trips, of course.) There are countless ways to further your career through an internship abroad, and really, what do you have to lose?

Have you ever interned abroad? Share your reasons to “go global” in the comments.

About the Author

Kaylen Duarte is a freelance writer, copyeditor and Chinese translator based in southern Massachusetts. She spent her senior year of college studying abroad in Nanjing, China, where (in addition to juggling two internships) she interviewed impoverished factory workers and swapped thoughts on international politics with blue-collar security guards over glasses of Chinese baijiu. To read more about Kaylen's professional experience, visit kaylenduarte.com or look for her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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