In today’s competitive job market, internships have become a necessary component to those seeking a degree or making a career change. What used to set young professionals apart is quickly becoming the norm. Choosing an international internship, rather than an internship in your home country, can help you stand out from the crowd. Potential employers will notice an international internship on your resume, and be intrigued because it signifies a gain in professional experience, but also real-life experience as well. Here is a list of 7 things (other than professional experience) that you will gain from an international internship:
1. An ability to navigate cultural differences
The world is quickly becoming a global work force. It’s likely you’ll find yourself working in a setting with a culturally-diverse staff. For most, diversity and cultural differences can be difficult to navigate, especially while working in teams towards a common goal. Dealing with these challenges will come as second nature to you, after working and living in a foreign country.
2. An ability to reflect on yourself, your experiences, and your environment
Living and working abroad has a way of making you look inward, to reflect on who you are and who you want to be. This helps you to set better goals, and makes those goals more attainable. You will be able to take a step back from situations and assess what is happening around you, and then take the necessary action based those observations.
3. A comfortableness and confidence with yourself
Living abroad, likely alone, and working in a foreign country gives individuals confidence in themselves, something easily recognized by a potential employer. During job interviews, use this confidence to assure them of your skills, abilities, and positive contribution to the company.
4. Global connections in your field
Getting settled into a career is all about building connections these days, and interning abroad gives you a strong foundation to network with professionals in your chosen field. Who knows – maybe one of those connections will play a major role in finding you a more permanent position abroad, or even in your home country, someday.
5. A different view of work culture and life
Living and working in a single culture can create tunnel vision with regards to work environments and styles. Working abroad – even for two to six months – will give you a greater perspective on how other cultures approach a traditional work day. It may also help you figure out what you want in your work life and contribute to future career decisions!
6. Unique answers to common interview questions
A likely interview question: “Tell me about a time that you were faced with a difficult challenge and how you overcame it.” Having had international experiences, your answer can and will set you apart from others. During your international internship, you will face many challenges. Trying to communicate where you want to go in Bangkok to a Thai tuk-tuk driver who doesn’t speak a word of English AND can’t read a map? Nearly impossible. But now is the time that you get to boast about how you used your own unique skills and personality to overcome this challenge.
7. An ability to solve complex problems
All of these things, in addition to your experiences along the way, help you become a better problem solver. Your new broadened worldview will give you the skills you need to solve more complex problems, and shows that you are able to think about issues from different points of view. Your experiences, both professionally and personally, will help you propose better solutions to these problems, and think critically about the implications of your potential solutions.