Published on November 25, 2014

Interning vs. Studying Abroad

Spending a semester or even a whole year abroad is a fantastic opportunity. During this time, you will learn a lot about yourself as well as the world around you. However, you have to decide how you will spend your time abroad. Most people choose to either study or work as an intern; here is a brief summary of the pros and cons of these two options so you can make your decision from a more informed position:

Interning

Pros

1) Professional Experience. This is the perfect opportunity to earn some major CV points. You can use your time abroad to gain invaluable international work experience, which will put you well ahead of many of your peers at university. When it comes to applying for graduate roles, you will have some meaningful work experience to impress your interviewers with.

2) Change. Working as an intern will allow to you to leave the student bubble, mature and help you on your way to becoming a young professional. Living and working abroad will give you a taste of independence and life in the ‘real’ world. When you return to university you will have more life experience and your growth in maturity may even help you to improve your grades.

3) Cultural And Language Immersion. If you are trying to improve your foreign language skills, interning will help you to become business fluent. This is particularly important if you are considering living and working abroad in the future. This aspect also looks good to employers as it shows that you can adapt and survive in a new environment. Furthermore, if you socialize with your new colleagues you may have the opportunity to see a different side of the city you’re living in that regular tourists don’t know about.

internships abroad

Cons

1) Not As Much Free Time. One of the main problems with working full time as an intern is that you don’t have as much free time. You will have time for fun after work each day, but fatigue and other commitments can sometimes hinder your enjoyment. The concentration of your fun will most definitely be on the weekend.

Studying

Pros

1) More Free Time. Studying means you can avoid the 9-5. If you’re lucky, your university schedule won’t be too demanding, which could give you more time to enjoy yourself and see more of the country you’re living in.

2) Easier To Make Friends. If you study at a university, you will be surrounded by other students of the same age with whom you can interact. This will make it easier to meet new people with similar interests and could help you to settle in faster. Meeting other students will help you to immerse yourself in the culture and practise your language skills with your friends.

internships abroad

Cons

1) Lack Of Routine And Structure. One problem with studying abroad is the lack of change and structure. It is easy to find yourself having the same life as you do at university at home.

2) Lack Of Local Culture. It can be hard to immerse yourself in the local culture because you are certain to come across a great number of other people from your own country. After a few weeks you may find yourself in a similar friendship group to the one you have at home, just in a different setting. If cultural immersion is what you are looking for, studying may not be the option for you.

3) Homework And Exams. Who wants to sit more exams?! Exams can be stressful. Taking yourself out of the education system means that you can avoid revision and exam stress completely.

Both studying and working are amazing ways to spend your time abroad, and you will have a memorable time no matter what you do. When it is time for you to make your decision, what you must consider is what you want to get out of your experience.

The author
John Monahan
Before joining The Intern Group in 2014, John held senior positions in the investment operations field, including Senior Manager for Investment Application Services at Liberty Mutual (one of the USA’s largest insurance companies), and AVP at Bank of New York-Mellon. John holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Harvard University with a field of study in Economics, which he earned while working full-time. A travel enthusiast, John has visited over 30 countries, and believes deeply in the value of international experiences as a lever for educational, professional, and personal growth.

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