Ask The Intern: Should I do an internship abroad as a first generation student?

Dear Danielle, I am currently a junior at my university, and the first in my family to pursue a Bachelor’s. As you could imagine, this was a very big step for both me and my family. Unlike most of my other fellow classmates, I haven’t had someone in my family to lean on for advice about regular college things, let alone traveling abroad by myself! I saw a posting about The Intern Group at my university’s study abroad fair, and I would absolutely love to get my family on board with this. Do you have any advice for a first generation student? – Laura from the US

 

Hi Laura. I completely understand your concerns about going abroad, especially since you’re a first generation student. As the first in my family to go on to higher education as well, I’ve been in your shoes. I know leaving home for something completely unfamiliar is sometimes scary, but then again, don’t most of our greatest adventures start off by taking that leap of faith? Here are some reasons why I think you’ll do great abroad, along with some tips to know before you go!

 

1. You’ve already proven to yourself that you can set new limits and break expectations

Let’s start this off by talking about how awesome you already are. Leaving your hometown to pursue educational opportunities elsewhere takes a lot of strength and bravery. It’s not easy. It proves that you are independent, responsible, and of course courageous. Going abroad will be a similar experience, just in a new place.

 

2. You have experience adapting to a new environment

From my own experiences, I can attest that there are definitely moments of culture shock on campus as a first generation student. During my freshman year, it sometimes felt that the people around me were speaking a different language when it came to “rushing” and “pledging” campus Greek life. If you can get through that culture shock and campus jargon as a first generation student, you’re just one step closer to being ready to adapt to life abroad. As far as the language barrier goes, you’ll actually be speaking English at your internship. Of course there will be some differences between office culture, and the culture in your program destination, but you’ve already proven that you’re able to adapt to a new setting.

 

3. There is usually more financial assistance for first generation students to go abroad

When I applied to go abroad in college, I was actually able to apply my financial aid package to my overseas studies. This depends on your university, but if you go abroad with an organization they partner with, you may be eligible to receive credits and financial aid towards your international internship. In addition to that, there are tons of local scholarships at your university that you could apply to. We also have a really resourceful finance page here, with scholarships, grants, and fundraising ideas.

 

4. The Intern Group has local staff that provide 24/7 support

A benefit to going abroad with an organization like The Intern Group is that unlike booking a ticket to go abroad by yourself, you will be provided with on-site assistance. From the moment you land at the airport, you will be greeted by a driver, eager to welcome you abroad and take you to your accommodation. Each of our programs has an Experience Coordinator, who plans fun cultural immersion and networking events. Once you go abroad, you’ll feel like you’re part of a family.

 

5. You’ll befriend so many new people that will also be your support system abroad

From your colleagues, to fellow interns, to our team, I can guarantee you that you won’t feel alone abroad. It’s also possible that you’ll connect with another first generation university student like yourself while on the program too. In fact, most of our interns say that one of the best parts of interning abroad is the ability to create lifelong friends from all over the world. That’s because you’ll be living with likeminded people who value new experiences, just like you.

 

first generation student

 

Now that you have more confidence about going abroad as a first generation student, learn more about all of the program options The Intern Group offers.

 

Photos

  1. by Danielle Ortiz-Geis
  2. by Danielle Ortiz-Geis

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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!

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Danielle Ortiz-Geis

Danielle's love for travel and intercultural exchange stemmed from her study abroad experiences in Prague, where she studied in 2012. After graduating from American University in Washington, D.C. she began her career in marketing and international education and has held previous roles at CET Academic Programs as their Marketing Coordinator, AFS Intercultural Programs as a High School Study Abroad Advisor, and Go Overseas as a Content Writer. After receiving her American-Chilean dual citizenship, she moved to Santiago, Chile and is very excited to join The Intern Group's Marketing team. On the weekends you can catch her in the mountains, at a coffeeshop, or exploring a new city by foot with her camera in hand.
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