7 Ways to Find an Internship While Studying Abroad
University Programs with Built-in Internships
Part-Time or Optional Internships
Finding the Right Internship
How to Prepare Before Applying for an Internship
Internships vs. Part-Time Jobs
Why Intern Abroad? Unpacking the Perks
Making Internships Work During Your Studies
Scored that international degree or about to complete the degree? Well done! Now, onto the next quest: landing the perfect job. Patience, persistence, and a bit of savviness will be your best allies. In this guide, we’ll spill the beans on easy tips and crucial points to keep in mind as you find and secure an internship while studying abroad.
Studying abroad opens up a world of opportunities. And one of these opportunities is getting hands-on, practical learning experience in a leading economy and business hub. Graduating with the work experience on your resume gives you a great edge in a competitive and global job market.
Here are 7 practical ways to kickstart your international internship journey:
University programs with built-in internships are for both academic learning and practical work experience. These programs recognize the importance of hands-on training. They aim to prepare you for the real-world challenges of your chosen fields.
In major destinations like Australia, Canada, the UK, and the USA, completing an internship while studying abroad is a huge perk. Not only do universities build program with a strong industry focus, they maximize your experiential learning too. They invest in making sure you graduate as job-ready.
This is why top universities in these destinations have such high employability rates. Graduates from these countries successfully find employment within six to twelve months of program completion!
If you are keen to get program-specific work experience, research programs where practical and professional experience is a part of the curriculum. You can:
Universities in Canada, including top schools like the University of Waterloo, Simon Fraser University, and Ryerson University in Canada integrate co-operative education (Co-op) into various disciplines. These provide students with hands-on learning opportunities.
Canada’s co-operative education programs, commonly known as co-op, integrate work experience with academic studies. If you enroll in a co-op program, you will alternate between semesters of classroom learning and practical, workplace-based learning. Alongside developing the relevant work experience, you get to earn while you work!
Throughout the work term, both your employer and your faculty may run regular evaluations. These evaluations contribute to your academic credits. This adds valuable feedback for your professional development while studying in Canada!
In the United States, international students can leverage Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs. These are opportunities for students to get first-hand work experience in the USA in their field of study.
CPT enables students to gain work experience related to their major during their academic program. As the “curricular” in the name suggests, CPT is part of your curriculum.
There are two types of OPT – Pre-Completion OPT and Post-Completion OPT. Like the CPT, Pre-Completion OPT is training that constitutes an internship while studying abroad in the USA. Post-Completion OPT is training you can take after completing your program.
As the name suggests, this type of training is optional. You don’t need to complete it as part of your curriculum, but the option exists for those eager to get industry-specific experience in their field.
You are eligible for up to 12 months of full-time OPT for each higher level of education (e.g., bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate). If you are a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degree holder, you are eligible for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.
Note, though, that if you complete a full year of CPT, you will no longer be eligible for OPT. Also note that the overall validity of OPT is 12 months. This means that if you complete 6 months of pre-completion OPT, you can only do 6 additional months of post-completion OPT.
For both CPT and OPT, you need authorization from your university’s Designated School Official (DSO). It’s best to thoroughly understand the rules and regulations of both options so you don’t stray beyond your F-1 student visa rights.
With the right authorizations on your UK Student visa, you can complete internships and work placements as part of your program! These can be full-time opportunities – the work hour limitations of your Student visa don’t apply for work experience that is part of your program.
This means that you can take on part-time work (respecting the work hour limits of your Student visa authorization) alongside a program-mandated internship!
However, you do need to make sure that your internship or work placement does not exceed 50% of your program. Placements will typically be a minimum of 38 weeks.
If your program does not have an internship or work placement requirement, you may still be able to get some professional experience in. This extracurricular work experience will fall under part-time work, however. By law, you can only work 20 hours a week while semesters are ongoing, and full-time during holiday breaks.
As with the other options we discussed, Australian universities also offer placement opportunities and internships that contribute credits towards your program completion. The opportunities vary depending on the university.
The University of Adelaide, for example, welcomes you to explore faculty-specific internships. Here, the university’s relevant faculties will help you secure an internship in a relevant position suitable for your program. At the same time, you are welcome to arrange for your own internship. Both options contribute credits towards your program completion!
Again, be mindful of the nature of the internship and your work-hour rights under the Subclass 500 student visa. Generally, if your internship is a compulsory part of your degree, it will not count towards your visa work hours. If you are taking an optional internship, these do count towards your visa work hours. Under the Subclass 500, you can work 48 hours overall over two weeks during semester time, and full-time over the holidays.
The internships we go through above cover options for an internship while studying abroad that form part of your curriculum. Under the authorization of the relevant student visa, you can seek out optional internships as well!
Student Visa Type
Non-Degree Related Work Rights
48 hours per fortnight during semester time
Full-time during holiday breaks
20 hours per week during semester time
Full-time during holiday breaks
20 hours per week during semester time
Full-time during holiday breaks
F-1 Student Visa
Optional Practical Training authorization from DSO necessary
If an internship, co-op, or work placement is a component of your program curriculum, there will typically be a department in your faculty to support you in finding the appropriate employment opportunity. Universities with active placement and co-op programs tend to have a diverse network of organizations they work with. This magnifies your chances of securing a role specific to your program!
Your university’s career services are an invaluable resource. These services often have dedicated staff to help you find internship opportunities, connect with potential employers, and refine your application materials. The University of Sydney, for instance, offers personalized career advice and workshops to enhance students’ employability.
Explore online job portals that cater specifically to international students. Websites like Idealist, Indeed, and LinkedIn have global job listings, including internships. Additionally, some platforms specifically exist to connect students with internships abroad, such as Internships.com and GoAbroad.com.
Securing an internship while studying abroad is not just about finding opportunities. It’s about preparing yourself to stand out. Here are crucial steps to take before applying:
Internships are not exactly the same as part-time jobs. Here are a couple of important ways the two differ:
✔️ Structured learning, often with academic credit.
❌ Broader work experience, not always aligned your field of study.
Career Goal Alignment
✔️ Aligned with career goals, aiding professional growth.
❌ Valuable for finances but may not impact long-term career.
✔️ Varied, often around academics or project timelines.
✔️ Flexible hours, integrating with academic responsibilities.
✔️ Focuses on industry-specific skills.
✔️ Develops general skills applicable in various settings.
✔️May offer opportunities for academic credit.
❌Rarely provides academic credit unless integrated.
✔️ Builds connections within your chosen field.
❌ Networking may vary, not always industry-specific.
✔️ Positions you as a competitive candidate.
❌ Valuable work experience but may not directly impact career.
✔️ Provides specialized knowledge for a competitive edge.
❌ Contributes to a broad skill set, fostering adaptability.
Balance with Academics
✔️ Integrates with studies, complementing learning.
❌ Requires effective time management alongside academics.
Now that we’ve explored how to find internships abroad, let’s delve into the compelling perks that make international internships a game-changer:
Global Perspective Boost: Experiencing different cultures, work environments, and perspectives broadens your worldview, making you more adaptable and culturally aware.
Spruces up Your CV: An international internship adds a unique dimension to your resume, showcasing your ability to thrive in diverse settings and navigate cross-cultural challenges.
Fluency in the Local Language: Working abroad is an immersive language-learning experience. It goes beyond textbooks, allowing you to communicate effectively in real-life situations.
Your Networking Game on Steroids: Interning abroad introduces you to a global network of professionals, potentially opening doors to future collaborations, mentorships, and job opportunities.
Experience the Culture Closely: Beyond work, you’ll immerse yourself in the daily life and traditions of a new culture, gaining insights that extend far beyond the classroom.
Resume-Ready Skills Galore: International internships foster skills like adaptability, cross-cultural communication, and problem-solving—qualities highly sought after by employers.
Stand Out in the Job Hunt: In a competitive job market, an international internship sets you apart, signaling your willingness to step out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges.
Discover Yourself Anew: Living and working in a different country pushes your boundaries, helping you discover hidden strengths, overcome obstacles, and build resilience.
Invest in Your Future: Globalization is reshaping industries. By interning abroad, you’re investing in a future-ready skill set that positions you as a valuable asset in a rapidly changing global landscape.
Save the Memories That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond career benefits, international internships create memories, friendships, and experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime.
The burning question – can you do an internship while studying abroad? Or rather, can you make an internship work while balancing the demands of studying abroad?
The answer, if you are willing to put in the work for it, is a resounding yes. First, familiarize yourself with your university’s policies regarding internships during the academic year. They have specific guidelines or restrictions for some programs. Choose internships that directly relate to your field of study.
Then, look for part-time internships that accommodate your class schedule. Many employers understand the academic commitments of students and offer flexible arrangements. You can consult your university’s career services to explore internship opportunities that align with your academic calendar. They can guide you in finding the right balance.
Keep in mind that you have to manage your time efficiently to meet both academic and internship commitments. Make a schedule that allows for dedicated study hours and productive work periods. Don’t jeopardize your degree by devoting too much time to an internship. Remember that the degree comes first!
You can earn academic credit for your internship. For this, check with your academic advisor or the internship coordinator. They can help you to understand the process and requirements for earning credits.
You can also utilize your summer breaks for full-time internships. This extended period will give you a more flexible experience without worrying about the regular academic commitments. If these are not possible, you can consider remote or virtual internships. You can work from anywhere. This flexibility can make it easier to balance your studies and gain valuable work experience.
Always stay informed about work regulations in the host country. There are limitations and opportunities for working during your studies, particularly as a student visa holder. Be mindful to work within these regulations and limitations!
Earning extra income through an internship while studying abroad is just one of the perks of pursuing work experience abroad. An internship opportunity can make the transition from your academic journey to your career much easier. You graduate with an edge over the workforce, job-ready with the skills and professional network to boot. So, why wait? Take the first step towards a more balanced and fulfilling international student experience with an internship abroad!Date Published: Nov-17-2023