Hi Fiona, I know that normally you give tips on professional development for people who are currently interning, but I was hoping that you could help me. I really want to do an international internship to make myself stand out when I graduate. I’ve been looking into the program with The Intern Group and there are so many options – I’m actually a bit lost. There are great things about each destination but I cannot decide where I want to go. Where should I do my internship? Do you have any advice on how to decide?”– Laura
Hi Laura, it’s great to hear from you. I completely understand your predicament. Even if it’s deciding between two amazing choices, making a decision about where to do your internship can be stressful. It’s almost like when you go to an amazing restaurant and you want to eat literally everything on the menu, but can only pick one. This is a really important decision and so I’ll share with you some advice on how to answer the tricky question, “where should I do my internship abroad?”.
1. Do some initial research
You need to know what you’re deciding between. Make sure that you do some basic research for each destination so that you have something to work from. I always start by doing an image search of the city. The amazing images will make you really excited to learn more. Try to learn all of the basic information about each city – where it is in the country, what the climate is like, what language is spoken and so on. If you’re feeling super organized you could begin to document this information. Maybe create a poster for each destination? Or even just designate a page to each destination in a notebook. There may already be a country or city that begins to stand out to you.
2. Do you want to learn a new language?
As a languages student I could talk for days about how great it is to learn a new language. Don’t worry, I won’t. But, this is definitely something to consider when deciding where to do your internship abroad. Employers are very impressed by polyglots and your ability to speak another language could be the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd in the future. The Intern Group has nine destinations across the globe, so there are several destinations that would allow you to advance your language learning. If you want to be really savvy, take a look at which language is the most highly regarded in your career field.
3. Where might you want to live in the future?
Have you always dreamed of the bustle of New York City? Maybe you want to be eating tapas on the streets of Madrid? Or wandering the cobbled streets of Dublin? If there’s somewhere you’d like to settle down later in your career, why not start making contacts now? One of the best things about an international internship is that you will meet so many amazing people. These people are industry professionals living and working in the city of your dreams. Who better to meet than the people who are doing exactly what you want to do in the future? You never know how they will be able to help you in the future. They may be the key to your dream job in your dream city.
4. Which part of the world do you want to visit?
An international internship can take you all the way across the world. I, for example, am currently doing an international internship in Latin America, a long way from my home town of Bristol, in the UK. One of the reasons why I decided to come all the way over here was because of the travel opportunities. Think about not only the city that the internship is located in, but the country and surrounding area as well. If you’re going all the way to the other side of the world, why not take some time before or after to travel the area? You can even go on lots of trips and excursions on the weekends while you’re doing your internship. Think about where excites you and where you would love to see. This may help you narrow down your choices.
5. Think about culture
One of the best things, in my opinion, about living and interning abroad is experiencing a new culture. When you’re doing an internship in a new city, you can completely immerse yourself in food, music and art. Every country, or even city, has its own personality and culture. An internship can give you access to this new world while also kick-starting your career. Take a look online at articles or blogs about the culture, food, art, etc. in each destination and see what stands out to you. Do you want to try some authentic street food in Shanghai? Catch a show in London’s west end? Spend a weekend at a music festival in Germany? The opportunities are endless.
6. What about the weather?
The weather is something I normally forget about when thinking about where to go next. But it is so important. Every area of the world has its own distinct climate and weather conditions. What is summer for you, may be the middle of winter for another country. If you fancy a colder or warmer climate, do some research into the weather in all of the destinations for the months that you have chosen. Maybe Hong Kong has the sun that you crave? Or London has the cooler weather that you fancy? So when thinking about how to decide where to intern abroad, this may narrow down some choices.
Choosing an international internship destination is incredibly exciting, albeit quite tricky. Each destination has its own incredible benefits and will give you a different, amazing experience. The culture, food, art, and vibrant lifestyle will give you a glimpse into life in a new city. But, if you’re still struggling between London, Hong Kong, New York, Madrid, Australia or Latin America why not take this quiz? And if you’re struggling between Dublin, Berlin and Shanghai, take this one to see which destination is right for you.
I love hearing from you! If you have any questions, stories or queries drop me an email at [email protected]