Ask The Intern: How to sell your international internship experience in an interview

Dear Danielle, my name is Jessie and I’m from South Africa. I recently finished my international internship in Shanghai and had a blast! As a university graduate with internship experience, I’m now looking to land my first “real” job. Do you have tips about how to explain internship experience in interview and how to sell it to future employers?- Jessie, The Intern Group Shanghai Alum

 

Hi Jessie, thanks for reaching out with such a wonderful question. An international internship experience is an amazing opportunity to see the world while building your resume. Conveying this in an interview is key to helping you land a job. Here’s everything you need to know about how to sell your international internship experience in an interview for your dream job.

 

1. Your international internship experience has made you more adaptable

Employers love to hire employees who are autonomous, flexible, and eager to grow. Doing an internship abroad proves that you’re all three of these things. Going abroad to an unfamiliar place shows that you’re adaptable, especially in the face of a challenge. An international internship shows you’re not afraid to jump on a plane and move across the world to chase a new opportunity. While your future career challenges might not be as big as that, it proves that you can handle new curveballs thrown your way, which is extremely appealing to employers who want to see you grow with their company.

 

2. It has enhanced your communication skills

Though you’re only required to speak English at your international internship with The Intern Group, you have enhanced your communication and language skills while living in an immersive setting. From ordering food at restaurants, to asking for help with directions and groceries, you put your language practice into action. It’s likely that you also absorbed work jargon at your internship as well. Even if you didn’t pick up the language like a natural linguist, you learned how to communicate in a foreign context. Talking and connecting with people is key to helping any business succeed, and through your internship experiences abroad, you’ve gained lots of experience with cross-cultural communication.

 

how to explain internship experience in interview

 

3. It shows you’re personable

You’ll be surprised at how many times you can start an ice breaker with “This one time while abroad I ….” and see how many other people can connect to or add to your stories. It’s a great way to build relationships through common interests. It makes you a likeable colleague, which is extremely important to the office culture.

 

4. You have real-world experience

Now that you’ve completed your internship, you have real experience and case studies to flaunt to future bosses. Don’t be afraid to show them projects you’ve worked on (as long as they’re not confidential materials). Don’t stop at, “I worked in marketing for two months in Shanghai.” Employers want to hear specific examples. They want to hear about how you did what you did, why you did it the way you did and how your previous internship company is still benefiting from your contributions.

 

how to explain internship experience in interview

 

5. It’s broadened your global perspective

Having seen the other side of the world, you now have a better understanding of complex topics. These include how other economies work, social and political differences, environmental, healthcare and education systems, and technological growth, among many other things. While these don’t all necessarily come from your internship experience directly, you picked up some key information about cultural differences. In the modern age of global entrepreneurship and international business, this is an extremely valuable experience that few other candidates are able to bring to the table.

 

6. It proves you know how to be independent while also contributing to team goals

Going abroad to a place where you don’t know anyone shows how independent you are. You’re fine being on your own, and to some extent probably really enjoy it. Similarly, internship experience shows that you’re able to work with other people in your department to complete group projects. Future employers will want to hear about how you’re not afraid to work independently and take the lead, while also being eager to be part of a team.

 

All photos by The Intern Group Shanghai Instagram

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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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