Career Strategizing from a Land Far Far Away

By Claire Klieger

So you’re studying abroad (or plan to) in some place breathtakingly beautiful like Lyon, France or Dunedin, New Zealand and you think, “how am I going to look for an internship and stay connected from  here?” (Actually, what you’re probably thinking is “how am I supposed to concentrate on anything productive while I’m here?” but that’s a different blog).

Benefits of the Road Less Traveled
Benefits of the Road Less Traveled

Believe it or not, it is possible to conduct an internship search remotely. Thanks to the wonders of the modern age, unless you’re in some place like Antarctica (and let’s face it, probably even there), you should be able to search for and apply to opportunities online. The tricky part, of course, is interviews. While you clearly can’t be there to interview in person, you may be able to do a phone interview or video interview via Skype. Naturally, it helps if you clearly state the fact that you are abroad in a cover letter and include dates you would be able to work.

Here are some other ways to maximize your search.

1) Plan ahead. If you’re interested in interning in the US upon your return, before you go abroad, you should ideally identify some organizations of interest and check PACNet to see if there are Penn alums working there with whom you could arrange some informational interviews and network. It’s also worth making a stop by Career Services to meet with a counselor to have your resume and a sample cover letter critiqued and develop a strategy for your remote internship search. In addition, we offer special resources to students studying abroad spring semester who are still interested in OCR positions.

2) Make the most of your time abroad. If you feel inspired, get involved on the campus you’re visiting. Especially if you’re interested in working in the country in which you’re visiting, do as much networking as you can. Connect with Penn alumni via PACNet and the many Penn alumni clubs abroad (no, I’m sorry, there isn’t one in Antarctica—maybe that’s not the best destination after all). And check out our online presentation on finding work abroad.

3) Stay connected. Just because you’re abroad doesn’t mean you can’t touch base electronically or by phone with contacts (ahem, and Career Services!) from that chic café in Rome.

4) Embrace your experience. As someone who spent 11 years abroad as a child, I know full well how living abroad can change your life. Take time to be “present” and experience your new surroundings. There are skills you will acquire that will make you more marketable to employers—a more international perspective, the ability to see things from someone else’s point of view, the ability to work well with a diverse group of people, etc.

So, before you go you’ll want to pack your bags, make sure your passport and visa documents are in order, and also stop by Career Services! Oh, and if you feel like sending us a postcard, that would be pretty awesome, too (you know, so we can live vicariously through your travels).

Author: Claire Klieger

Claire Klieger is an Associate Director of Career Services for College of Arts & Sciences undergraduates. She earned her Ed.D. from Penn and did her undergraduate work at the University of Virginia. Fun Fact: Claire spent 11 years in the Middle East and North Africa.