Finding an Internship Abroad

by Claudia Acha, CAS ’15

abroad

Finding an internship abroad can be difficult, but with the right approach you can make your search easier and more effective. First you have to figure out why you want to intern abroad. Is it to travel to a specific country, work for a specific organization, or get experience in a specific field? Once you figure out your objective, you can focus your search and start looking for opportunities that match your objective. Even though finding an internship abroad is harder than finding one in the US, the extra work is well worth it.

I wanted to spend this summer exploring my interests in marketing, Latin America, and the non-profit sector. Although there are opportunities to do this at in the US, the best option seemed like interning abroad.  I began my search on goingglobal.com, devex.com, Pennlink, iNet, and idealist.org. I submitted more than 30 applications. I didn’t hear back from any positions I applied to until late April. Despite this setback, I was determined to spend my summer abroad so I looked for alternate sources. I met with the staff from career services for guidance, and with their help I was able to narrow and focus my search.

At Penn we are constantly reminded how important it is to utilize our networks, and this was my next step. I knew someone who worked at the Oxfam office in Washington DC and was able to get in touch with Oxfam’s offices in Latin America through him.  I reached out directly to the Oxfam office in Nicaragua and was able to secure a communications internship this way. Securing this internship took much effort and time, but it was definitely worth it. I was able to get everything I had hoped out of my internship. I got to work at an international NGO, explore my interest in marketing, and travel throughout Nicaragua.

Tips on Interning Abroad
The biggest difference I have noticed with internships abroad and in the US are the cultural differences in the work place. During my internship at Korea Leadership Center there was an unspoken rule that employees should not leave until the boss leaves the office. In Nicaragua the workplace was a lot more casual than in most US offices. Employees are not required to be in their office from 8 to 5, instead, they are given much freedom and are each responsible for finishing their work by the deadline. Make sure to do some research about the country you will be working in to avoid any misunderstandings.

Funding
Some students rule out an internship abroad due to financial constraints. However, there are numerous resources to find funding for internships abroad. Like some students at Penn, I did not have the luxury of being able to have a non-paid internship. I tried looking for research opportunities, scholarships, and other sources for funds to pay for my internship abroad. Luckily, during my scholarship search I stumbled upon the Steven Alloy Global Internship Grant sponsored by the International Relations Department at Penn. Thanks to the generous support from the International Relations Department, I was able to spend my summer just the way I envisioned it.

My advice for students searching for opportunities abroad would be: start early, be creative with your search, tap into all of the resources you have access to, and persevere. This investment will be well worth the effort.

 

 

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Alumni Perspective: Travel Can Help, Not Hurt, Your Job Prospects

Worried about how “time off” to travel may affect your career?

Perrin Bailey Photoby Perrin Bailey

“When will you be back?”

My boss’s wide eyes and raised brow fixed on me from across his broad desk.

“I’m not sure,” I confessed. “A year?”

In 2010, I quit my steady job planning media for Disney at a small agency, sold my furniture and packed an ungainly Kermit-green backpack.  In this my 25th year, I ultimately made my way to 25 countries across four continents.  This adventure became one of the most constructive and fulfilling things I’ve done.

My sister Sarah quit her hot marketing gig at HBO to join me on the road, and she thinks the trip was the best thing she’s ever done, too.

But what happened when we got back home to New York, you ask?

My former client referred me for an internal position at Disney Interactive, and HBO welcomed Sarah back.  HBO even awarded Sarah the promotion she had passed up to travel.

Sounds lucky, huh?  Perhaps.  But we did follow a strategy not only to make the most of our time abroad, but also to ensure a successful landing at the end of our flight. Here are the four steps that worked for us and I offer to you:

  1. Seek Relevant Experience.  I work in digital media and love journalism, so I auditioned for an online travel documentary to be produced by Jet Set Zero.  With JSZ I learned about production and contributed to social media promotions, rounding out my skill set to become a “digital expert.” This while traveling Italy with most expenses paid. How did we find this gig?  Networking.

    Talk to everyone you know in your industry and attend as many local events as you   can, in addition to researching opportunities directly.  You never know what may come up!

  2. Pinpoint Your Passion.  Did you discover new interests or develop existing ones while traveling? Great!  Apply to jobs that relate.  I’d become consumed with creating and consuming travel videos, so I applied to program YouTube’s new travel channel.  It was the one time Google invited me to interview.  (I wound up continuing my relationship with Disney, but both were stellar opportunities!)
  3. Present What You Learned.  Reflect on the skills you developed on the road (e.g. negotiating, financial planning, resilience) and be able to articulate them in interviews.  For a sampling of job-related skills you can gain on the road, please visit our blog, www.thesistersbailey.com.  (Hint: One way to present your experience is to start a blog.)
  4. Do Memorable Work Before You Leave.  If you tackle the tasks at hand, find ways to expand on your job description, and build strong relationships, clients and colleagues will remember you.  If your former job does not have an opening upon your return, these skills and relationships will help you make a connection elsewhere.

Yes, quitting a good job to travel is a big risk.  But it can be a big opportunity.  So if you think you want to do it, think about how you can get the most from it . . . and go for it!

Perrin currently develops integrated marketing campaigns at Disney Interactive in New York City.  For more travel and work tips from Perrin and her sister Sarah, please visit their blog www.TheSistersBailey.com.

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Virtual International Opportunities Fair 2012

If you’re interested in working or volunteering abroad, check out the Virtual International Opportunities Fair which began on Monday, November 5, 2012 and will end on Friday, December 14, 2012. Over 40 employers are signed up, and they recruit students for opportunities in conservation, consulting, global health, international development, teaching, technology, and more.
 
The Virtual International Opportunities Fair is an online career fair featuring employers that provide international opportunities including internships, jobs, and service. Through PennLink you can “visit” the International Opportunities Fair to interact with representatives from globally-oriented organizations, companies, and schools that provide teaching, internship, work opportunities and post-graduate education abroad. The online format of the fair enables you to make contact with employers by viewing their profiles and submitting resumes to employers/positions that interest you. You can also instant message with recruiters directly during the Virtual International Opportunities Fair. Please visit the event website for more information or go to PennLink to get started.
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A Penn Road Less Travelled By: A Career in International Development

By Hannah Peterson (C ’12)

“Wow, that’s so amazing. I wish I could do something like that!”

“I’m so jealous of you. You’re actually going to be helping people, while I’m sitting stuck at my desk all day”.

“That’s such a great decision, I wish I had decided to travel while I was young.”

These were the responses I heard over and over again by my friends, classmates and family when telling them my decision to move to Nicaragua to work for a community development non-profit after graduation.  There were feelings of jealousy, regret and paralysis, and I couldn’t understand it, because there was absolutely nothing stopping them from making my same decision.

As I was starting my final year at Penn I was stuck in the age-old dilemma of coming to terms with my future. I put on that pants suit I had spent treacherous hours searching for in the mall the summer before.  I bought myself one of those fancy leather Penn folders and I pasted a smile on my face.  I walked around the OCR career fairs pretending like I was enjoying what I was seeing.  I went through all the motions as I thought I needed to, yet I kept having the feeling that I was choosing the best of the worst option.  Their pen design is better, so I must fit in there.  That recruiter gave me a ping pong ball with the company’s logo on it, they must have a fun work environment.  When trying to write my cover letters it was painful to find reasons I wanted to work at each firm.  In fact, what I found myself searching for on each of their websites was their charity work they in order to convey any genuine interest in my statement.

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Where Do I Start???????????

By Barbara Hewitt

The internet is a terrific resource for job seekers, making information on job openings, employers, and job search techniques instantaneously accessible to all of us. The down side, however, is that the amount of information can be overwhelming. Luckily, Margaret Riley Dikel has provided a terrific resource through the Riley Guide to help you sort through all of this!

The Riley Guide is a regularly updated directory of employment and career information resources available via the Internet. It provides instruction for jobseekers and recruiters on how to use the Internet to their best advantage. While she links to job hunting resources on topics like writing cover letters and resumes and interviewing, I most appreciate her A-Z index which makes finding specific links relevant to your particular search a snap. Click on ‘N”, for example, to find resources for your nonprofit job search or “E” if engineering is your passion. The RileyGuide has loads of links, so you will still need to do some searching to see which might be the most useful for your personal job and internship search, but it is a terrific starting point.

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