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Traveling vs interning abroad

So, you’ve decided to go abroad, but you’re stuck between seeking a professional internship in one international location, or spending your time traveling through a country or continent unhindered by school or work. How will you decide between these two amazing, life-changing options? Below, I have listed some pros and cons of international travel and interning abroad to help you make your decision.


International Travel



1. More control over your itinerary- If your travel bucket list is extensive, traveling without any work or academic commitments will likely be the only way to see it all. You will have full control to move from location to location when and how you want to.

2. More economical travel options- If you have several months reserved exclusively for traveling, you’ll have a lot of flexibility when it comes to transportation options. If you were doing a work placement 9-5 Monday through Friday, you would need to take flights to go far away for the weekend– and that would quickly add up. When you’re just traveling, you can choose the bus or train option– saving hundreds of dollars on each long leg of your trip.


1. Difficult to add the experience to your resume- Despite being an exciting, character-building experience, it will be hard to add travel on your resume to demonstrate to future employers the ways in which you’ve grown personally. Rather, we recommend incorporating relevant experiences from your travels in job interviews, demonstrating your adaptability, patience, and cultural competence– all of which are important skills in the workplace!

interning abroad


Interning Abroad



1. Getting to know your community- Simply put, interning abroad gives you the chance to settle in. You will live in an apartment or home-stay, with flatmates or a host family, and you’ll have the opportunity to truly do life in your city. Whether you’re in Madrid or Hong Kong, and whether you’re staying for 8 weeks or 6 months, interning will give you the time to go from tourist to resident. You will find your favorite coffee shop, discover your favorite running routes, and develop meaningful friendships with locals. Living in a city shows you both the good and the bad of that place, which helps you learn about the people around you, as well as about yourself.

2. Develop professional work experience- If you intern abroad, you will be gaining valuable work experience in an international environment. This will not only be a great boost to your resume, but also to your skill set and (depending on the location) language skills. Completing an internship abroad will give you a huge advantage when seeking full-time jobs in your desired industry.


1. Less flexibility to travel- If you are interning abroad, you will likely have a set number of vacation days or will need to ask permission from your supervisor to take time off. This will limit your ability to travel outside of your available vacation time and weekends. If you hope to travel extensively, I recommend scheduling your flights so that you can have additional time to travel before or after your internship.

Whether you choose to intern abroad or just travel, the time you spend internationally is certain to change your life forever. The friends you meet along your travels or in your chosen internship destination and the amazing urban and rural sights you see will grow you as a person and make you an even more valuable addition in your future workplace. So, no matter how you decide to spend your time abroad, the important thing is that you do it!


Photo 1. The Intern Group

Photo 2. based on, by Verne Ho, CC0

Photos and blog by John Monahan

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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!