Spending time abroad can be rewarding and challenging. While you will be put in new situations, you will most certainly return better prepared for your future endeavors.
If you are interested in academic study, language study, or research, check with your academic department for help and possible funding. In addition, you should also contact the International Study and External Programs Office if interested in these types of programs.
If you are interested in finding an internship or volunteer experience abroad, the following information offers a way to get started. The process is not easy, but the counselors at Career Services are available to guide you along the way.
Finding an International Internship
The first step in the process of finding an international internship is to think about what you’d like to get out of the experience, both personally and professionally. You need to think about your strengths and weaknesses and decide what you might be good at doing. In addition, you need to assess your own comfort level with being away from home and potentially away from modern conveniences. Some good questions to ask yourself:
- What countries or areas of the world intrigue me?
- What kind of work would I be interested in doing?
- What skills can I bring to an employer?
Starting the Search
After you have some ideas of what you’re seeking, it’s time to do some research. A successful international internship search will require a great deal of initiative and effort on your part. You should be prepared to start early, at least six to nine months before the date you would like to start working. You can conduct your research in a number of ways:
- Use eHire, our online career and resource database
- Visit the Career Resource Library (216 Tremont, 6th Floor) for information on various travel, work-abroad, and study-abroad opportunities
- Visit the International Study and External Programs Office (Little Building, 80 Boylston Street, First Floor)
- Network! Talk to friends, family, previous employers, faculty, alumni, and others.
Most students find international internships in one of the following ways:
Internship Exchange / Work Permit Programs
These programs arrange paid and unpaid internships in a variety of countries. In addition, these programs also facilitate the process of obtaining work authorization in a select number of countries, something that can be challenging to do on your own. There are often placement fees associated with these programs and they can vary widely, so be sure to check. Please Note: Emerson College does not directly endorse any of these organizations.
These programs arrange volunteer experiences in a range of areas such as education, health, community development, environment, and human rights. Some of these programs have placement fees, so make sure to do thorough research. Please Note: Emerson College does not directly endorse any of these organizations.
Internships Set Up Directly with an Organization
Outside of an established program, you can also obtain an internship directly with an organization. Generally, these fall into several categories: government agencies (such as the U.S. Department of State or U.S. AID), nongovernmental organizations (such as the World Bank or the United Nations), and international corporations.
If you know a specific company or organization you are interesting in interning with, visit its website to see if it offers an internship program. Use the Emerson Connections to see if alumni can help you. Internships with governmental and nongovernmental agencies are extremely competitive and are often unpaid. They also have application deadlines in the fall for the following summer.
Visas and Other Considerations
One of the biggest and most time-consuming challenges of interning abroad is completing the paperwork necessary for you to live and work in another country. One of the first things you should do is make sure you have an updated passport. It can take six to eight weeks for a new passport and almost as long to renew an old one, so plan ahead.
Many countries will allow entrance to American citizen visitors for a maximum of three months. However, if you wish to earn money during this time, or plan on staying longer than three months, a visa may be necessary. Getting the correct information about the paperwork you need to work abroad legally will require some research. You can contact the company that has made you an offer. If you are going through an established program for your internship or volunteer placement, ask for assistance. Finally, be sure to contact the appropriate embassy or consulate for information.
When you contact local consulates, also ask about any travel warnings and health requirements, such as immunization. The Center for Health and Wellness can be another source of information on this.
If you are an international student, you will have to contact your nation's consulate to learn about any authorized paperwork you will need to travel in and out of the United States.
- International Association of Students in Economics and Commerce (AIESEC): A university-based, worldwide internship program for student members interested in business and management.
- Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE): The Work Abroad Program supplies the necessary work documents and placement in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.
- International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE): IAESTE offers worldwide internships to juniors and seniors in engineering, architecture, mathematics, computer sciences, natural and physical sciences. It also offers a work-permit service.
- British Universities North America Club (BUNAC): BUNAC makes work programs possible for students in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Canada Australia, and New Zealand. It also offers volunteer programs in South Africa and Peru.
- InterExchange: Offers abroad opportunities in teaching English and childcare as well as volunteer and internship options. Offered in 11 countries.
- International Cooperative Education: Arranges paid internships in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, and Japan. One year of college-level German, French, or Italian and/or two years minimum of college-level Japanese is required.
- Association for International Practical Training: Organization offering internships in 65+ countries. Also offers assistance with work permits.
- Internships in Francophone Europe: Offers semester-long academic internship program (no summer programs) to students and recent graduates of North American schools.
- CDS International: Offers placement programs for internships in Germany, Argentina, and Spain.
- RISE: Sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service; offers paid summer research experiences with German PhD students in biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, and engineering. German language skill is not required for most positions.
- IES Abroad: Offers summer internship programs in London, Dublin, and Barcelona as well as summer and academic year study-abroad programs in 15 countries.
- Oasis-PraFor: Courses, internships, and volunteer work options in Spain are available through this program.
- The American-Scandinavia Foundation: Offers an internship placement service as well as assistance with work permits should you find your own placement in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden.
- Global Experiences: Offers internships in Italy and Australia in many areas, including fashion and culinary. Also offers ESL teaching, volunteering abroad programs in Ecuador, and adventure travel.
- U.S. Department of State: U.S. State Dept. internships in foreign affairs environment. Application deadline date is November 1.
- Idealist.org: Comprehensive nonprofit site that includes internship and volunteer listings for a variety of countries.
- International Volunteer Programs Association: A search engine for finding international volunteer placements.
- Volunteers for Peace: Links to international volunteer organizations and work camps.
- Cross-Cultural Solutions: Operates international intern abroad programs in 10 countries with start dates year-round, and lengths of stay from 2 to 12 weeks. Interns can focus on health, education, or social services. Partial scholarships are available through Career Services from September 1, 2005 to June 1, 2006; contact us for further information.
- AmeriSpan: Works with more than 150 organizations in Latin America and Spain to place volunteers.
- Amigos de las Americas: Provides opportunities to participate in service projects in Latin America.
Comprehensive Sites and Directories
- Transitions Abroad: A very detailed site with information for those wanting to work, study, or travel abroad. Includes listings of programs offering opportunities as well as a classifieds section.
- GoAbroad: Can search for study abroad, internships, language schools, volunteer opportunities, teaching, jobs abroad, and adventure trips. Also offers country–specific travel guides and tools such as rail pass information and student ID cards.
- Guide to Internships Abroad: List of sites that offer more information on international internships. List provided by phone company encouraging international travel.
- Learning Abroad Center: University of Minnesota. Search for work, intern, and volunteer programs by country.
- SummerJobs.com: Database of teaching, tourist, and service sector jobs worldwide.
- ResortJobs.com: Database of job listings at worldwide resorts, ski areas, camps, parks, cruise ships, and hotels.
- Live-In Jobs UK: Phone or fax for list of seasonal employment opportunities in hotels in England, Scotland, and Wales. Three- to six-month positions include waiting tables, bartending, receptionist, or chef.
- Explorations in Travel: Provides volunteer work placements for students and adults from all over the world. Volunteers must pay fees and expenses, depending upon placement.
- Backdoorjobs.com: Offers a directory of short-term job, volunteer, and internship experiences in many different countries. The programs have internships in engineering, medicine, nonprofit, and business to name a few. Most programs do have placement fees associated with them.
Study Abroad Information
- Studyabroad.com: A consortium of dozens of university study abroad programs that provides excellent information on exploring cultural differences.
- Institute of International Education: Indexes for internships, practical training, volunteering, and student teaching list more than 1,300 programs, most of which charge tuition and give academic credit.
What is Emerson Connections?
Emerson Connections links Emerson students and alumni to career professionals, facilitating career exploration and industry connections. Learn more »
Find out what it's like to live in a 14th–century European castle—possibly one of the few opportunities you'll have to spend a significant amount of time outside of the United States.