Interning abroad is a unique experience that combines world travel, international work experience, foreign languages, and a bit of culture. They offer a unique perspective on how the international world of business works.
When applying to intern overseas it is important to make sure you are legally able to do so in that country. Be open and honest with the companies you apply with to make sure they know your situation and are willing to help in any way that they can. There are some programs that can help you find opportunities. Transitions Abroad is a good resource.
Once your internship is secure, it’s time to deal with the logistics of traveling and living abroad. You will need to consider flights, housing, bank accounts, discounts, and other details. It’s a mission on its own.
The Internet makes it easy to spend countless hours searching for the best deals on international airfares. There are many websites out there that make the airfare search easier.
If you’re under 25, your first stop should be STA Travel. For years, STA has been a worldwide leader in student and young adult travel and cheap airfares. You may have to purchase either an ISIC (International Student Identification Card) if you are a student or an International Youth Travel Card if you’ve graduated from college. Regardless of where you purchase your flights, these cards are worth it. They provide discounts for airline tickets, hotels, restaurants, clubs, museums, attractions, rental cars, and more.
Always shop around for the best airfares. Some of the best sites for aggregating multiple websites and comparing prices are Kayak, Expedia and Travelocity. These sites search tons of travel sites and airlines to display the cheapest fares. They do charge small fees, so often the best prices can, surprisingly, be found directly from the airlines.
When shopping for flights, ask a few questions – Do you want to travel before or after your internship? Do you want to make any stops along the way? Would you benefit from an around-the-world ticket? Is your passport up-to-date? Do you need any special visas? Are there any landing or entry fees upon arrival? Is it worth paying extra so you can change your flights? How much baggage are you allowed?
Securing flights is a major hurdle. After you finally purchase your tickets, you can focus on the other important aspects of living abroad.
If you’re traveling with a program or school-sponsored trip, you’ll probably never need to worry about housing, except to fill out a few forms.
However, if you’ve secured an internship on your own, you’ll need to find a low-cost place to live that’s convenient to your workplace. Consider how you will get around… By foot? Bike? Car? Public transit? It can be challenging to sort out housing for a short time period, especially if you are unfamiliar with your destination and trying to figure it out online or over the phone before you arrive.
Ideally, the company you are interning with will help you find housing. Definitely ask them for help and suggestions on good places to live.
Do some initial research about neighborhoods in the town or city in which you’ll be living, and consider housing yourself in an inexpensive youth hostel for a few days while you get your bearings. Hostels are cheap accommodations frequented by seasoned travelers who may be able to help you make housing connections.
You may be able to find a home stay (a room with a local family) where you pay a small monthly rent in exchange for a meal or two per day, and sometimes even laundry. To find situations like these, check into whether your city has an active Craigslist, or contact the local university that may have a study abroad program in the same area as your internship and ask them how they house their students.
Some universities have deals with hotels or apartment complexes, and they might be able to pass those discounts onto you even if you aren’t traveling with their group. This is especially true if you are an alumnus, which is why it is best to begin with your own school, even if you do not live in the area any longer.
There are lots of options, but be wise about where you choose to live. Make sure it is safe and secure, close to work, and reasonably priced.
Hopefully, you are getting paid for your international internship. Instead of keeping a wad of cash under your mattress, it may be wise to open a bank account where you are living. This can be done easily in person or over the phone before you leave.
If you open a bank account, your money will be more secure. Plus you can wire funds to your account before you arrive. A local bank account also supplies you with local currency, a necessity to have when living in a foreign country.
It’s important to be able to communicate with your friends, family, and significant others while you are abroad. The Internet makes it easy to write emails, use social networks, and make calls on Skype.
You may want to purchase a cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone so you are easily accessible in your new home-away-from-home. Also consider bringing an electrical plug adapter with you so can plug in your laptop or e-reader.
International internships are amazing experiences. If you have the chance to go abroad enjoy the adventure.