I owe much of my personal and professional traits to the internships I have undertaken. Perhaps the boldest and smartest move I took was applying for an internship abroad. I was fortunate to be selected to intern in the US House of Representatives, an opportunity which has opened many doors and allowed me to build on the skills I already possessed.
I recently read a fantastic article with Cynthia Banks of Global Links Learning Abroad about the importance of interning abroad on The Levo League. Check out her top tips below!
Why intern abroad?
1. To make your resume stand out.
An international internship automatically distinguishes you from other university students and recent graduates competing for jobs. Only a small percentage of students study abroad — and even fewer intern abroad — so participation in an internship overseas can give you the professional advantage you need by showing you have global skills.
2. To expand your global network.
It is important that as you build your career, you also build a circle of mentors, contacts and friends. An internship abroad gives you the opportunity to make international contacts not available through domestic internships.
3. To grow your “soft skills.”
Employers often comment that new university graduates lack the interpersonal or “soft skills” needed to interact well with people in a work setting. An internship abroad teaches you how to bridge cultural and language barriers so you can successfully work with others. By facing small challenges abroad every day, you improve your emotional intelligence and ability to break through communication barriers, as well as understand various cultural viewpoints. At the end of your internship, you have a transferable work skill – the ability to communicate in a global work environment – which will appeal to prospective employers.
4. To gain confidence.
Alumni of internship abroad programs often speak of the confidence they gained during the experience. An international internship is an opportunity to grow your independence and self-reliance, which translates into greater confidence in facing challenges in your career.
5. To prove you can take initiative.
An internship abroad serves as proof to employers that you are the kind of person who makes opportunities for yourself rather than waiting for something to happen. Employers rank confidence, interpersonal skills and initiative as three of the most important attributes for employment.
6. To develop a global perspective and understanding.
The education received from an internship abroad goes far beyond job tasks to include gaining a broader perspective of current events, as well as topics within your own field.
7. To discover your personal brand.
Just like a corporation, you need a strong brand and personal story that communicates how you want to be viewed. Some university students and recent graduates are attuned to the importance of building a personal brand, but others don’t have it on their radar. An internship in Rome isn’t built in a day — and your personal brand won’t be either. Spend the necessary time and mental effort to develop your personal brand. Blog. Facebook. Tweet. Use the best of the available social media tools to demonstrate your communication skills and define yourself to employers and professional contacts.
For more advice from Cynthia click here.