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July 25, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

Why should students intern abroad?

I’ve spent the past day and a half trying to search for articles to link in my blog detailing why interning abroad gives students such valuable experience. I know personally why it’s so important (obviously, or else I wouldn’t be here doing it!) but it’s always good to have a little third-party, non-biased credibility.

Interning abroad through Boston University is valuable now, and will be in my future career

Interning abroad through Boston University is valuable now, and will be in my future career

Unfortunately the only third party credibility I could really find was from intern/study abroad company blogs (come on news sites, work on that SEO!). On the fortunate side, though, lack of this kind of information is a green light opportunity for me to go ahead and share my experiences up to this point on why international work experience is critical for future careers.

And I do have a little third-party credibility stowed away, because back in my good old journalism days I actually wrote a freelance article for Next Step Magazine, a national publication, about the benefits of working, studying and volunteering abroad.

So, my top 5 list of why interning abroad is worth the investment:

1. Work samples with the wow-factor: Imagine a job interview, being asked if you have a certain skill set they’re looking for, and you’re able to respond with “Actually yes — I used XYZ skill set while working an international event with presidents and delegates at the beautiful Oxford University” (yes, that was me, and I’m still in awe that happened my first week!)

2. Confidence – If you build it, it will come: Being thrown into the mix within minutes of my first day at my internship, I definitely had to display confidence while crossing my fingers it would work out. Pitching journalists, especially UK journalists, for the first time I had that all-too-common pit in the bottom of my stomach. But I smiled, faked calm, sucked it up and just did it. And by building it that first day (and consecutively almost every day with new tasks), I can honestly say the confidence came, and I got several stories placed!

3. International industry perspectives: Sure we all know our industry inside and out in the country we’ve studied it in, but what about outside our beautiful borders? It’s reasonable to think you can do some research to get an international understanding, but imagine how much more you would know by actually working in the field, in a foreign country. And better yet, imagine when your future employers want some global insights and you can help out, not based off a Google search, but instead off that summer or semester you spent experiencing it.

4. Come to know and love those cultural cues: Nothing can prepare you more for successfully doing business overseas like experience working in different cultures. Believe it or not, TV isn’t really an accurate way to learn cultural cues — but interning abroad is. In just my first few weeks working in a British office, I’ve already noticed several cultural differences that I hadn’t expected at all going into it. Now they’re part of my daily life, and I’ll miss these cultural differences (most of them) when I’m finished here. I won’t spoil those for you, though, because that’s for you to come over here (or anywhere internationally) and experience for yourself!

5. Learn to be resourceful at a rapid pace: I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t inherit my family trait of Jeopardy-like memory. Therefore, I’ve learned how to be resourceful. And being over here working in a foreign country, I’ve further developed that skill, increasing my information-finding speed daily. I don’t know much about the tax system in XYZ country for one of our clients, or the trade groups in XYZ industry, but you better believe I’ll  find everything I need to know within minutes so I can meet my deadlines with solid, accurate work. This without a doubt, like everything I’ve already mentioned, shows why interning abroad will help me for years to come.

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