A paid internship abroad is a valuable addition to your CV—regardless of whether you’re about to set off for university, already there, or just finished your degree. It’s a great way to pick up new skills, get an insight into another country’s work culture and even learn a new language.
There are plenty of aspects to consider before taking the big leap: when should you head off overseas? And how do you decide where to go, and for how long? For information on all of the above, and much more, read our guide below:
1. When do you want to do a paid internship abroad?
Before even deciding where to do your internship, you need to think about when you’re going to fit it in. Here are three examples that might help you make your mind up:
Before starting university
Once you’ve finished high school, you’ll have at least two or three months before making the jump to university. An internship abroad is a great way to learn valuable new skills before you start your degree and will make your CV shine.
Mid-way through university
More than 80% of internships advertised in 2018 required interns to have, or be pursuing, a bachelor’s degree.
Once you’ve started your university studies, you’ll have tangible skills to offer your employer—and you’ll have a better idea of the fields you’ll be interested in.
After you finish university
While only 2.5% of UK graduates undertake an internship at this point, this can actually be the perfect time to step into the world of work—fresh from university and ready for a challenge!
If you’ve not been able to find a job after graduating, an internship is a helpful way to get your foot on the career ladder.
When you do your internship is likely to be dictated by your availability: the summer months are when you’ll have the most time to go abroad for 6-8 weeks and shouldn’t have too much university work to complete.
2. How long do you want to do a paid internship abroad for?
Many internships are four weeks or more in length. This is the perfect amount of time to get settled in and meet people, without committing to a long stay abroad.
If you’re hoping to get Erasmus funding for your internship too, two months is the minimum permitted placement length.
Research has shown that it takes about seven months to learn a new language, so a longer internship is perfect to hone your language skills.
You’ll need to plan appropriately though: either take a year out from your university course or arrange this length of internship for after you’ve graduated.
3. Which countries do you want to do a paid internship in?
Once you’ve decided when to go, you need to pick your destination for your internship. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
A 2016 survey found that German was the language that unlocked the most high-paying jobs in the UK. Make use of an internship in a German-speaking country to gain valuable language skills for the future.
It’s notoriously difficult to get a US visa, but interns can take advantage of the J1 visa scheme to enter the country.
China is predicted to become the world’s leading economy by 2050. Undertaking a paid internship in the country could set you ahead of the pack for finding a job later on.
France’s labour laws are weighted in favour of employees. This means that even interns are legally entitled to a monthly minimum wage of €554.
4. Find a company with paid internship abroad offer
Trawling through the Internet searching for an internship is no fun, so platforms such as www.goabroad.com have made the process easy for you: simply type in your desired country, and the platform will bring up a host of internship opportunities.
5. Prepare your first resume for a paid internship abroad
When you apply for an internship abroad, your CV is an integral component of your application package so it’s worthwhile making sure it’s top-notch!
To get started, make sure the CV you submit matches up with the conventional format of the country you’re applying to. In Germany, for example, applicants are expected to submit an application with a CV with a photo, and a number of referenes from past employers.
If you’re stuck, contact your university’s careers service—many have CV-checking services and are the experts in what employers are looking for.
Here are some top tips, regardless of the country you’re looking to work in:
Make sure your CV is flawless in terms of spelling and grammar
Tailor your CV and cover letter to the internship and company in question
Stand out from the crowd. Do you love languages, international environments and new experiences? Make sure your future employer knows!
6. Apply to companies for paid internship abroad
Once you’ve decided which company you’re interested in, you can start applying. If you have no idea on where to start, consider this 6-step process:
Look at the comapny's website to familiarize yourself with the nitty-gritty of their application process.
Prepare an appropriate CV and cover letter.
Send off the CV and cover letter to the relevant contact.
If applicable, start preparing for any application tests or an interview.
Attend an interview—whether in person or on Skype.
If all goes well, and you've completed all the required steps, you’ll hopefully have an internship!
Here are some extra tips to bear in mind during the application process:
Make a note of deadlines as missing out on your internship due to a late application is easily avoided.
Be polite—a rude email fired off in the heat of the moment won’t win you any favours.
Sell yourself and don’t be afraid to highlight your skills and achievements.
7. Interviews with the companies with paid internship abroad
After you’ve sent off your application documents, your prospective employer will likely want to interview you, whether face-to-face or via a video chat service such as Skype. They can ask you questions about yourself and your studies, as well as test out how well you’ve done your research by quizzing you about their company and the internship in question. But how can you make sure that you pass the interview with flying colours?
1. Look smart, even on Skype
Research shows that first impressions are cemented within seven seconds of meeting someone. Even if your interview is on Skype rather than face-to-face, make sure to dress in office-appropriate clothing.
Speak clearly, make contact with the interviewer, and sit up straight. In a recent study, 65% of interviewers explained that candidates who didn’t make eye contact didn’t get the role they are applying for.
3. Research, research, research
The most common mistake (47%) made by candidates is not knowing enough about the company they’re applying to. Make a list of the major points about your prospective employer, and learn them.
8. Preparation before leaving to the paid internship abroad
You’ve landed the internship, but the preparation doesn’t end there! Here are three hugely important aspects to consider:
A paid internship abroad means you’ve got to handle the financial side of things in a different currency. Make sure you've set one up ahead of time so you don't have to worry about this once you start working.
Depending on where you’re going to be based, you might need a visa for your internship. It can take up to five weeks for a US visa (for example) to be processed, so plan ahead.
If you’re going somewhere more exotic, you might need to consider extra medical requirements, such as vaccinations or taking out more comprehensive health insurance.
Leaving for a paid internship abroad
You’ve set up your bank account, booked your flights, and packed your suitcase… now all you need to do is hop on the plane and start your internship. Don’t forget to touch base with friends and family you won’t see for a while, and make sure to get plenty of sleep so you’re fresh for the new adventures awaiting you!
Regardless of whether you’re heading to France for a 4-week stint or moving to Australia for a 9-month internship, this advice has hopefully provided you with a few pointers on how to get started. And by opening a free bank account with N26, you can rest assured that managing your money on-the-go is a breeze. With instant notifications after all account activity, a handy Statistics feature that automatically categorizes your spending, and many more exciting features, you'll know where your money goes at every step of the way.
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