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7 reasons why NGO interns should go abroad

Success in the Non-Profit sector demands a special set of soft skills and a more open view of the world in general. One of the best ways to prepare a professional in the NGO sector is through professional experience abroad. Here are 7 reasons why NGO interns should go abroad. 


1. Learning how to work through cultural differences

More often than not, interning at an NGO will require teamwork with people who have a different background than you do. That’s why learning how to overcome and leverage cultural diversity is so crucial. There are few better places for immersive cultural learning than an NGO internship abroad. Surrounded by a different cultural context, NGO interns have to learn how to be a chameleon and find common ground.


2. Picking up another language

Of the many sectors with a demand for bilinguals, the Non-Profit sector is at the top of the list. International and refugee organizations will be especially interested in employing people who are able to translate and communicate clearly with the population being served. The best way to work on language skills is through immersive learning experiences interning abroad.


Why NGO interns should go abroad


3. Many non-profits have an international focus

NGO careers often cross international boundaries – or at least deal with people from different parts of the world. Having spent time living and working at a non-profit in another country, NGO interns can feel confident they’ll prove themselves as internationally savvy employees.


4. You’ll identify universal problems and solutions

Many NGO interns who go abroad enjoy interning in other countries because they are able to see how other nations creatively tackle complicated social and economic issues. Interning in an NGO will make you more aware of the challenges occurring all over the world.  It will also help you to become innovative when coming up with solutions to help tackle these issues.


5. Learning how to communicate with a language barrier

Developing your non-verbal communication skills will absolutely come in handy in a Non-Profit career. When you come across people who speak a foreign language, you’ll be comfortable finding other ways to express yourself. You’ll also learn which are the most important words to pick up in a foreign tongue. Picking up another language is another great reason why NGO interns should go abroad.


Why NGO interns should go abroad


6. You’ll better understand economic development

For those who are from “developed” countries, it’s impossible to understand what a “developing” country is like without seeing it with your own eyes. NGO interns will see how complex issues of hunger, poverty, domestic abuse and health are when a country has low GDP. On the flip side, you also might intern at an NGO in a wealthy country with a big budget, able to take on ambitious projects aimed at helping others. In each context, NGO interns will come back home with a more nuanced view of development issues in the world.


7. You gain experience working outside your comfort zone

Non-Profit work doesn’t usually mean a comfy 9-5 job or internship. NGO careers ask for something more personal and adventurous. NGO internships abroad help prospective Non-Profit workers to see if the career is really for them while they are pushed outside their comfort zone in a foreign country. With this immersive and challenging experience, NGO interns will feel more prepared to flourish in their career.


Now that you know 7 reasons why NGO interns should go abroad, apply now to intern abroad.




1. based on 66af – Qantas Boeing 767-338ER; [email protected];14.08.1999, by Aero Icarus, CC-by-SA 2.0

2. by Tammy Williams

3. based on Voluntarios, by Experiencia Scout, CC-by-SA 2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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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!