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Finding Internships Abroad: A Student Guide

Finding Internships Abroad: A Student Guide main image

Guest post: Alex Townley, Inspiring Interns

Finding internships abroad can be a daunting task – it’s likely to be coupled with arranging accommodation, meeting new people and settling into life in a new country. But before you begin,  the first thing to do is to get a firmer idea of what type of internship is right for you… Here’s my guide to finding internships abroad!

Narrowing down your internship search

First things first: what sort of internships abroad are you interested in? It’s time to think about your existing skillset and consider what you’d like to take from an internship. If you’re a wizard with numbers and you feel comfortable in a sea of data then a career in an analytical role might be for you; helping companies use their facts and figures to make key decisions is big business.

Choosing the right internship for you at this stage in your career will ensure you get off to the best start – an internship that combines learning and contributing to the company in equal measure is most likely to achieve this.

The boring bit: before starting your internship search, make sure you have the right to work in your selected country. If you don’t, be honest when approaching companies and find out what a potential visa (if relevant) might entitle you to do, i.e. how many hours you can work per week.

Traditional paths to finding internships

Start by browsing online job boards that list opportunities in your own country; this can be a great way to find hiring companies that might have offices abroad. Do your research, list companies and then visit their websites to see where else they might be based. You may also find opportunities abroad on national job sites – there is usually an international section when searching by location.

You should also consider job boards based in your desired location, where companies are highly likely to place internship adverts. For example, if you’re looking for a position in Germany, check out Praktikum.de, or in Spain, Loquo can be a treasure chest for internship opportunities, flat shares and other useful information.

You could consider using a recruitment agency to help you; agencies often hold the key to many opportunities that you may have been unable to find or hadn’t even considered. There’s a good chance that you haven’t heard of the company advertising your ideal internship vacancy, so such hubs are great places to discover more opportunities.

Aside from anything else, many organizations trust recruitment agencies (and often have preferred supplier agreements in place) to use their resources and experience to find the right person for their vacancy, so give them a go. Writing as the marketing manager of Inspiring Interns, I’m biased towards using our services, but a quick Google of internships abroad should lead you to other relevant agencies that could help you.

Be more innovative in your internship search!

You’re likely to face competition when applying for internships, so anything you can do to stand out from the crowd during your internship search will really help; use your imagination and be innovative. Start with your friends, family and anyone who might constitute a relevant contact. Reach out and let them know what you are looking for and ask for help. If you don’t have any useful contacts for the industry you’ve got your eye on, create some.

Make use of the (free!) possibilities that social media platforms offer you in this area – LinkedIn and Twitter are both particularly useful for internship-hunting. Follow and connect with HR/hiring managers, drop them a quick message outlining what you are looking for and ask whether they can help.

You should also make sure that you are searchable online. Do this by clearly listing your existing skills and state that you are looking for an internship – this isn’t necessarily the time to list your favorite bands or football team, but don’t avoid adding a splash of personality. Take this opportunity to tap into the online student community and ask your peers for help. ThirdYearAbroad.com is another great example of a brilliant resource for university students looking for internships abroad.

If you’re still struggling or you just haven’t had the time to put in some serious research, take the entrepreneurial approach and jump on a plane out there! As long as you budget properly and dedicate time to finding an internship, then you should be fine. Try and set up some meetings before you go – you are more likely to find a relevant opportunity when in the country than not.



Alex is the marketing manager at Inspiring Interns. He enjoys sport, cinema, admiring sharks from a safe distance (on TV) and supports Arsenal. Alex occasionally blogs on plainhelvetica.com, tweets @agtownley or you can add him to your circles on Google+. At the time of writing, Alex is training for the London Marathon! Track his progress here: http://plainhelvetica.com/running-with-asthma/

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