Tips For Finding An International Job or Internship

By Kelly Cleary

In the past couple of weeks I’ve talked with several students who want to work or intern abroad either short or long term this summer or after graduation. Career Services offers many resources and programs to help students navigate an international job or internship search.  My Go Abroad Young Man (or Woman): Working Abroad to Advance Your Career blog from last year highlights some of the reasons why I almost always encourage students to pursue international opportunities if they have the inclination.  

If you are considering this path, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Clarify your goals – the clearer your intentions, the easier your search will be.
  • Start early — Finding opportunities and sorting out visa requirements takes time so the earlier you start looking the more likely you’ll find an opportunity that best fits your interests and goals.
  • Think about what is most important to you: location or type of work. If you absolutely have your heart set on working in London, you may want to be more flexible about the type of work you do. On the other hand, if you know you’re committed to international public health issues, there may be many international locations with interesting positions.
  • Familiarize yourself with visa requirements for the location(s) of interest to you. To successfully find work overseas, you will first need to understand and fulfill any visa requirements. More information on visas can be found on our web site and in the GoinGlobal country guides (available through our Online Subscriptions page.)

 Here are a few resources to help you get started:

 A “Consumer” Note:

When searching for job and internship opportunities in PennLink or elsewhere, please keep in mind that employers are generally able to enter their own jobs into our system. You should use your own judgment when applying for opportunities. For example, with so many teach abroad options out there, it’s hard to know which schools and programs are the best bet for you. This article from Transitions Abroad, “Teaching English Overseas: Don’t Be A Victim” and the related articles on the page should be a helpful primer. You should always feel comfortable asking to talk to an “alum” of the program or someone who taught there in the past.  

A Day in the Life: Environmental Advocacy Group

Read Charley Dorsaneo’s archived tweet feed here:

Here at Penn Career Services, we are dedicating special attention to careers in sustainability and the environment next week in line with Penn’s theme – Year of Water. On Tuesday, February 15th, Charley Dorsaneo (SAS ’10) will tweet throughout the day about his job as the Clean Energy Associate with PennEnvironment, a statewide, citizen-funded environmental advocacy group.

Charley Dorsaneo (SAS '10)

Charley joined PennEnvironment in August of 2010 and is in his first year of a two year fellowship program with Environment America, a federation of state-based environmental groups of which PennEnvironment is a member. As the Clean Energy Associate, he works to pass statewide legislation to promote renewable energy like wind and solar across the Commonwealth.

PennEnvironment’s mission is to protect Pennsylvania’s water, air, and open spaces. With roughly 50,000 members and activists across the state, PennEnvironment works to advocate for strong environmental policy by showing our state legislators that Pennsylvanians care about their environment.

Since Charley has been on staff, he has been working to pass legislation that would promote green building technology across the state, increase Pennsylvania’s solar requirement, and allow for the construction of an offshore wind farm on Lake Erie.

Charley received a B.A. in Politics, Political Science, and Economics (PPE) from the University of Pennsylvania.

If you want to hear first hand what other career paths are, attend our panel Traditional & New Directions in Environmental Careers on Wednesday, February 16th at 4pm in Houston Hall’s Golkin Room.

For resources to help explore a career in sustainability and the environment, visit our Career Exploration page.

Career Services’ Top 10 of 2010

With almost 15 days left in 2010, the top ten lists of the year are starting to pop up online and in print.  I’m dedicating this blog entry to the top ten highlights from Career Services in 2010 – these are in no rank-order because they’re all great achievements from the last 12 months.

1. Penn & Beyond Blog.  As of today (December 14, 2010), we have had over 70,000 hits (72, 921 technically)! Some of the top posts are:

Beware the Hippo: Choosing Where to Apply to Medical School

How to Become the Next Intern Idol

Responding Sincerely is Very Professional

It’s not too late! (Good) Internships are still out there.

Why Reneging on an Offer is Bad for Your Career Mojo

FrankenFood for thought! How lunch can help you find a career.

2. @PennCareerDay. We launched a new Twitter account, @PennCareerDay, that features alumni who post about a day in their life.  Alumni in consulting, venture capital, education, publishing and international healthcare recruitment all contributed.  A record of their posts can be found on our Twitter resource page.

3. PennLink. Since January 1st, 2010 we have had over 2,000 new employers, as well as over 8,000 job and internships posted in PennLink.

4. Video Conferencing. We had 17 international companies speak with students through our video conferencing equipment this past year.  Companies were in the UK, Germany, Dubai, Israel, India, China, Hong Kong and Japan.

5. Career Fairs. We held 10 career fairs here on campus, 2 were virtual fairs, with 500 employers in total.

6. Make an Impact.  We had another successful line up of programs on careers with the federal government.  Speakers visited campus from NASA and the CIA at the Science & Engineering Jobs in Government, the State Department  at the presentation on the Foreign Service Oral Exam, as well as from UNICEF and USAID at the Careers in International Development panel, to name a few. Stay tuned for more programs like this in 2011!

7. Website Re-Design. We re-organized our website to help you find resources more easily and feature new content. One of the biggest changes were updates to the undergraduate resources – if you haven’t seen them yet, visit the undergraduate page here.

8.  On-Campus Recruiting (OCR). There were 7,708 interviews on campus this fall, up over 10% from Fall 2009.

9. Interview Stream. We added Interview Stream to our list of partners in PennLink. This resource lets students practice interviewing and watch themselves through the playback feature.

10. Vimeo Video Channel. As part of our growing use of social media to provide you with a variety of content and resources, we have grown our video collection on Vimeo to include over 50 videos with 7 specific channels. Whether you seek advice about law school, what to do while you’re abroad or to get advice from alumni first hand – there is a video for you.  Check out our channel today at

Here are two other Top 10 Lists I came across recently:

Top 10 Job Hunting Tips of 2010 from Lindsey Pollak

Time Magazine’s Top 10 of Everything 2010

Teach, Intern or Work Abroad through the International Opportunities Virtual Fair

By Kelly Cleary

Perhaps you’ve studied abroad and can’t wait to get back to Paris. Maybe you’ve written papers about human rights issues in Africa and you’re eager to do what you can to improve the lives of the people you’ve studied. Or you’ve heard about the exciting business and financial opportunities in China and India and you can’t wait to be a part of the next wave of corporate leadership. Or maybe you just want have a short-term adventure before you head into “the real world.” These are just a few of the reasons Penn students pursue work and volunteer opportunities abroad.

The International Opportunities Virtual Fair is a great way to connect with short and long term summer or post-graduate opportunities abroad and/or with an international focus.

Virtual International Opportunities Fair

Teaching, Internships, Full-Time and Graduate Study Opportunities Abroad Available online Mon., Nov. 22, 2010 through Fri., Jan. 21, 2011

The Virtual International Opportunities Fair, an online career fair, is for Penn students and alumni who are interested in international opportunities.

Through PennLink you can “visit” the International Opportunities Fair to meet representatives from over 30 globally-oriented organizations, companies, and schools that provide teaching, internship, work, volunteer 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.  After the fair is over, employers will receive the resumes you dropped and will contact you directly if they’re interested in an interview.

To participate in the Virtual International Opportunities Fair:

1)      Log into PennLink. If you do not have an account already, you will be asked to complete a brief profile.

2)      Upload or update your resume (if you haven’t done so already) by clicking on the “Documents” tab.

3)      Click on “Virtual International Opportunities Fair” under the “Events” box on the rights

4)      Be sure to click on the “Positions Recruited” tab to view full job descriptions and application instructions.

5)      To express your interest in an organization, go back to the main “Participants” page and click “GO” to submit your resume.

A Sample of Participating Organizations by Industry (* Indicates the organization charges a program fee. ):

Abroad China, China*
IBM, China and India
Milagrow-Business & Knowledge Solutions, India
Social Entrepreneur Corps, South America, Africa*
Botswana-UPenn Partnership
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (Journalism internship)
The Education Abroad Network, Australia, China*
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) – RISE
IBM, China and India
Aclipse, Asia
China Education Initiative, China
EPA! Español en Panama
Teach in France program, French Ministry of Education
Footprints Recruiting, Georgia/Eastern Europe
Milagrow-Business & Knowledge Solutions, India
Summerbridge, Hong Kong
Teach for India
The Kelly Yang Project, Ltd, Hong Kong
Penn Botswana-UPenn Partnership
Child Family Health International, Africa, Asia, South America*
Unite for Site, New Haven, CT
Non-Profit/Public Interest
Foundation for Sustainable Development*
Humanity in Action, Worldwide
Indicorps, India
Israel Government Fellow*
Social Entrepreneur Corps, South America, Africa*
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) – RISE
RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Career Services’ International Opportunities and Year of Service/Gap Year Programs pages offer additional resources.  If you haven’t already, be sure to log into GoinGlobal (PennKey required) to search its international job & internship board and its country job search guides.

Guest Perspective: How To Work Abroad

By Kate Thiers

This post comes from alumna Kate Thiers (Wharton undergrad 2000) who currently works in South Africa as a international healthcare recruiter.  She recently posted for @PennCareerDay on Twitter, for more on Kate click here and to read her Twitter Feed click here.

Working abroad is a privilege and something I have always wanted to do. Back in my junior and senior years at Penn, I would find myself sitting in front of my computer looking at jobs and trying to work out how it would be possible to work in London or Paris. I had no idea. It took me six years of working in Philadelphia before I finally made it to Oxford for my MBA, then to London to work with Siemens, and finally to Johannesburg to work with Africa Health Placements. I have learned along the way that it is easier than you think to get abroad: harder than accepting a US-based job but not the insurmountable feat it can seem when you are staring at job vacancies… again… on your laptop.

There are three main ways to get abroad. The first is the almost-accidental route I took – getting a second or advanced degree in an international university. Getting a visa to continue working in the country after graduation is usually relatively easy, depending on where you are. This route is pretty self explanatory and the school you are involved with will usually assist you. However, you should never completely depend on a second party to advise you on immigration rules unless it is an immigration agent. And they can be expensive. Your biggest challenge will be keeping on top of your personal visa situation and making sure you convert your student visa into a working visa. I did this upon graduating from Oxford in the UK – the rules have changed now but they are still accommodating to students with good degrees. The hardest part will be deciphering the process! But don’t be discouraged… it can be done with a good day’s worth of work, patience, and a dependable file of all your personal documents.

First tip: Always know your visa status and take complete responsibility for it.

Second tip: Keep an original copy (or certified copy) of your life with you. This includes birth certificate, passport, diplomas, transcripts, etc.

The second way to get abroad is to go and live in a country first; then look for work when you are there. This only admittedly works for some countries as you may not actually be allowed to do job interviews on a tourist visa. However, this is the route I took when coming to South Africa. My significant other is South African and we both decided it was time to make the move from London to Johannesburg. I showed up on a tourist visa, had a bit of a holiday (Johannesburg has the most amazing sunny days), and then looked for work. I found a job within three months and took complete responsibility for getting a residence visa and work visa once I had the offer. Sometimes your new company will help pay for your immigration paperwork but you will have to ask!

Third tip: Know the immigration rules of the country you would like to go to (i.e. is it allowable to interview on a tourist visa; will you need a residence visa as well as a work visa when you do find a job?)

The third way to get abroad is to find a job before you even leave the US. This is slightly harder as you have to research the job market for the country or countries you are interested in. Most companies will try to avoid the hassle of hiring a foreigner and dealing with their immigration paperwork. This is an unfortunate issue I faced in London once I started looking for work. The best advice I can give is to look for international companies specifically hiring for foreigners. Some global companies will have an international intern programme for example. Others will be hiring to gain the expertise of your home country, such as a company looking to expand to the US or looking to sell a new product in the US. Another option is to look for countries with a skills shortage in your area of expertise – although these will more likely be developing countries. Remember, when you write your cover letters or speak to potential employers, it is always a huge bonus if you have done your homework on how to get a visa. Contrary to what you might think, most employers will have no idea how the immigration process works for their own country.

Fourth tip: Look in a smart way for international jobs – don’t apply when it is clear they are not going to consider international candidates.

Fifth tip: Do your homework on your visa options before you even apply for the job.

The final issue to consider when you are thinking of working abroad is how you will live when you get there and what life will be like. For example, my younger sister was hired by a French company to teach in Paris for a year upon graduating from college. She had no idea how to evaluate what life would be like when she got there and most importantly, if she could afford to live on the salary they offered her. You can overcome these questions with a bit of research online. For example, look for flat advertisements on the London Gumtree website to investigate typical rental rates. Read up on normal living conventions: as an example, it is completely normal for Londoners to rent out a room of a two-bedroom flat. Who knew? It might seem like a weird setup for an American but it is a lot cheaper than renting your own flat. It is also completely normal in Johannesburg for people to have separate “cottages” on their properties and rent them out, also a much cheaper option than your own place. Once again, it requires you to do your homework and make sure that you are getting a good offer!

Final tip: Pretend you are actually going to live in your new city there next month. Find out rents and living costs online. What are typical and less expensive living arrangements? Where are the areas you should avoid? Expat blogs and online expat community sites are great for this kind of advice.

Visit our Career Exploration page dedicated to international opportunities for more information on ways to work abroad –