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7 ways to grow professionally when you intern abroad

Living and interning internationally challenges you in ways you would never dream of. If you’re looking for a fun and life-changing professional path, consider launching your career abroad. Check out these 7 ways to grow professionally abroad and consider an international internship as your next big career move.


1. You’ll start thinking for yourself

Spending an extended time abroad will prompt you to start questioning behavior and ideas you’ve had since you were a child. As you see how society can operate differently, you’ll have to adopt new concepts and attitudes to adjust to your new environment. This process of questioning and reshaping your perception of the world will lead you to have a more free and independent view of things. The more you challenge cultural norms and expectations, from your country and others, the more you’ll be able to think for yourself. This quality will lead to more creative and free thinking overall, so you can bring fresh ideas and alternatives to your workplace. You’ll also learn new approaches to various aspects of professional development.


2. Learning another language

Becoming bilingual is one of the best ways to grow professionally abroad, because it will make you stand out when applying for jobs later. The best way to learn a language is through immersion. Practicing a foreign language abroad on a daily basis will take your skills to the next level, especially if you’re learning office lingo.


ways to grow professionally abroad


3. Understanding your career through an international lens

There are many ways a global perspective can help a professional boost their career. You’ll get a better understanding of international markets and cultural practices of other countries. As the world and economy continues to globalize, your international viewpoint will come in handy.


4. Endless lessons in adaptability

Going abroad will really test your ability to adjust and adapt to new situations. When you’re in a different country, you have to accept that they may do things differently than what you’re used to.  You’ll learn to adapt by going with the flow. These skills go a long way in all kinds of professional settings, especially when you’re venturing into new professional territory or starting a new a job.


5. Your boldness will garner respect

Going to another country to live and work is a move that takes guts and fearlessness. You’re diving into the unknown. It’s fair to assume the majority of your bosses and coworkers, if they are a generation older than you, have not worked abroad. They’ll respect that you’ve done something outside the normal path.


6. Improved maturity and introspection

You can’t really succeed abroad without being able to reflect and think deeply. It’s not an easy experience to live in a foreign cultural context and it will naturally cause some tension and doubts about the world you’ve grown up to know as “normal.”


ways to grow professionally abroad


7. Heightened observation skills

Hurling yourself into a completely unknown city and culture means you have to start from scratch. A lot of what you learned about how to interact and be polite will need to be tweaked or changed. To learn quickly, you have to become a sponge. It’s important to fixate on the details of interactions – even if you don’t understand all of what they are saying, you can still read body language to figure out what’s going on. These observational skills are crucial in all sorts of professional contexts – whether an engineer or social worker, being able to observe closely and draw conclusions is pertinent to success.


Now that you know 7 ways to grow professionally abroad, apply now to boost your career with an international internship.




1. based on Akasaka Biz Tower, by Dick Thomas Johnson, CC-by-2.0

2. based on The Businessman II, by Sean McGrath, CC-by-2.0

3. based on Discussion, by Plings ., CC-by-2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!