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What to look for in an International Internship


What to look for in an International Internship With a BBC report indicating that graduate unemployment has hit a 15 year high, and 1 million young Britons currently unemployed, it's not surprising that students and graduates are turning to organisations to assist them in finding work experience abroad. Work experience in an overseas environment is both professionally and personally rewarding, and in an increasingly competitive job market it can give a CV that all important edge. However, the proliferation of intermediary organisations means that now, more than ever, it is vital applicants carefully choose the right organisation to provide their experience.

The benefits of such an experience can be huge as Kyle Kane found having completed his placement in the Chinese capital. "My internship in Beijing has been an amazing experience. I feel that the internship has furthered my understanding of international business and more importantly my CV. The internship exposed me to cultural and business challenges which I saw were vital to my learning experience.”

However, with an increasing number of providers of overseas work experience placements, potential applicants need to be aware of what criteria to use when distinguishing between them.
Ensuring that the organisation offers applicants a transparent picture of the programme is vital. Of greatest importance is the company or firm an applicant will be placed to work with. Applicants should confirm that their work experience program provider has worked with multiple companies before, and has a good understanding of their personal requirements.

Edward Holroyd Pearce, director of a leading overseas internship provider CRCC Asia, advises those interested in a foreign work experience to fully investigate all aspects of the package offered: ‘Many organisations intentionally use misleading language, such as "visa support" - ie: they send you some documents, but then you have to go yourself and pay the hefty fee. Others may mention "accommodation assistance", likewise meaning you have to fork out again once you arrive in the country you're interning in.’ Applicants who face financial restraints should explore organisations that offer scholarship places, the possibility to pay in instalments, and those which include useful free extras such as pre-paid travel cards and domestic sim-cards.

For many, internships abroad are as much about the out of office experiences as the work experience. Applicants need to consider which organisation best meets their expectations in this regard. Complimentary language courses alongside an internship are offered by some companies and can be an excellent way to maximise the gains from a foreign experience. Accommodation options can vary widely and candidates should think carefully about this. Homestays can be a great learning experience, but applicants should be ready for culture shock at the same time as trying to focus on their internship. Many people may prefer to be accommodated near other interns, close to central, vibrant areas, and have organised social events to ease the social adjustment to a new, foreign environment. Proper research will ensure that applicants find a reputable organisation that will provide them with an enjoyable and fulfilling experience.