by Luna Ramirez
Dumplings in China, cliffs in Ireland, dancing in Mexico and art in France. More often than not, when foreign countries and adventures come up in a conversation, students tune out. Not because each place and activity isn’t enticing, but because the words “Studying Abroad” follow. It’s not that these students haven’t heard ample information on the topic, but students still shy away from the opportunity because they think they can’t afford it. An alternative road that many students have never considered to get them abroad, one that is more cost efficient, flexible, and useful in their career path, is interning. Yes, interning abroad. Here are some of the benefits:
A major setback to studying abroad can be the steep prices that come with each program. Though interning in another country will still cost money, it tends to come out to half the price of a student heading to the same country for the same amount of time to study. There is a simple explanation for this. When a student opts to study abroad, they are expected to pay tuition, books, lodging and even tutoring. The student who is headed to another country to intern is typically going to work for free. This free labor lowers the cost of programs. That partnered with no tuition, books or tutoring costs leaves the student with a cost efficient option. What many students are also unaware of is that many of the UCF scholarships can still apply to these separate programs.
Competitive Edge in the Workplace
One of the greatest benefits to deciding to work in another country is that it gives a student a huge competitive advantage in their field. It allows them to stand out from other applicants by becoming a global competitor. Companies in the United States look for applicants who can work in a global market, and by interning abroad the student has enhanced themselves in a competitive market. This also helps the student who might be looking to work internationally after graduation. Many students even find themselves attracted to the idea of working internationally as a result of experiencing a new cultural environment. A significant difference between studying and interning abroad is the fact that interning is a professional experience that can be added to a resume. Even though what a student might study in another country might be relevant and can be used as an interesting talking point during an interview, the fact that a student applied, interviewed and then worked in another country as an intern simply adds an edge that studying does not.
A great perk that students don’t realize is the free time you will have after work. When taking classes in another country, after class the next step is returning to a dorm and completing the required studying or assignments for the course. Since the intern isn’t studying, they have the rest of the day to explore the country. They can travel and meet up with other fellow program interns and truly immerse themselves in the culture. Adventures like hiking, scuba diving, sight-seeing, and exploring the local culture, are just a few of the rewards to interning abroad.
Joscelyn Bivins, now a UCF alumni, interned in Hong Kong in the summer of 2016. Though studying abroad always seemed interesting to her, the cost was simply too much. The importance of having a diverse resume ultimately led her to look into different internship programs. That was when she stumbled upon The Intern Group and applied for an international adventure. While in Hong Kong, she was able to go hiking and to the beach. After her internship, she received many questions from companies who saw her resume. “A lot of companies are intrigued by how I took the initiative to go abroad,” Bivins said. “Companies I’ve interviewed with also ask how my international experience has affected my outlook on the professional community.” Her experience in Hong Kong showed her that though the eastern and western cultures were different, the way they conducted business aligned them. Now as an alumni of The Intern Group, she still keeps in contact with the people from her program and advocates the interning abroad experience to all students regardless of their field.
Interning abroad can be a life changing experience for any college student. As far as the extensive fields they accept, locations they can send students to and pricing, the list below includes some programs that can get any student started in their own research process.
- The Intern Group: https://www.theinterngroup.com/
- GoAbroad: https://www.goabroad.com/intern-abroad
- IES Abroad: https://www.iesabroad.org/ies-internships
- World Endeavors: https://www.worldendeavors.com/intern-abroad
The reality of the situation is going abroad costs money. If any money is going to be spent, then every aspect of the trip should be beneficial, and every dollar paid should feel well spent. Many intern programs will have socials and professional development events for the program participants allowing them to network with one another and tour the country with experienced program guides. The time not spent in a class or in a dorm is time that can be spent climbing a mountain or trying a new dish. Interning abroad not only has professional advantages but also personal ones.