Tag Archives: Internship Abroad

How to make the most of your internship abroad

Doing an internship abroad is a great way to experience the culture of a foreign country. I believe that doing an internship lets you experience the culture and the “real” life in a foreign country much better. Let’s be honest, when you go study abroad, most of the time its just a big party and you are probably going to be there with a lot of people from your home country, may be even some of your best friends. But when you do an internship, you also take on responsibility and see how the everyday life in a country. I have done both, internships in China, the US and Germany, and I also studied and now live abroad in the US. When I look back to my experiences, I definitely can say that my internships and work experience in China gave me the best insights into the country I lived in. So here is some advice on how to make the most of your internship abroad:

Internship AbroadDon’t start with the internship, do a language course first!

I believe that you can make the most of your internship abroad, when you know the language. If you do your internship abroad in a country where you do not speak the language, you should consider taking a language course first, preferably in the country. This will give you two main advantages: First, the better you speak the language, the easier it will be to connect with locals, who then can help you out when you have questions and also teach you about the culture and traditions of your host country! Second, you will be given more advanced tasks at work, which will not only look good on your resume, but also you will gain more experience in the field you want to work.

Do a good job and show initiative

Whether you do an internship in your home country or an internship abroad: Always give your best and show initiative. First of all, it will show your employer that you are reliable and hard working and you might get to do more meaningful tasks after you have proven yourself and second, the very company that you did your internship with, might offer you a job after you finished your degree.  Always keep this door open, even if it does not seem like an option right now.

Learn about the business culture and work habits

Your internship abroad will most likely be an eye catcher on your resume, so some companies might want to utilize your “special knowledge” about a country. Whether you might be the main contact for clients from this country, you are sent there to find new prospects or establish relationships or figure out a campaign to sell your company’s products there, they will expect from you that you know more than the average bear about this country. Do you know the seating order of a formal Chinese dinner party, or how to accept and hand out business cards in China? You have lived there after all, right? So make the most of your internship abroad and learn as much as you can about the way business is done in this country, how to avoid the biggest culture clashes, and how to work with this country’s culture and not against it.

How to make the most of your internship abroad? Connect with people!Build a strong network

Use your internship time abroad and build a network of useful contacts in the industry you would like to work in. This can be a huge competitive advantage when you apply for jobs later, whether you want to apply in your home country or in the country you did your internship in. Companies have realized how important the networks of their employees are to them. This could be a big bonus for you, when you mention that in your job interview! However, watch out who you network with! Don’t just focus on other expats, as most likely they will be gone after their assignment ends, but also with locals and long term expats.

Learn about the culture of your host country

While you do your internship abroad, try to soak up as much knowledge about the culture of your host country as possible. The more you know about the culture, the easier it will be to work efficiently with the people and get the results you need. Don’t think that your way is the only right way. You have to understand that you are a guest in their country and they have done pretty well, even before you arrived. Accept their way and different approach and understand that there is no “better” but only a “different” way of doing things. What you need to learn is to work with the people in this culture without offending them and their culture, but also to get the results you need!

As I already said, an internship abroad is a great way to get to know a foreign country from a much deeper perspective. Enjoy your time abroad and make the most of your internship abroad. You will never forget it!

Internship abroad or studies abroad?

Internship abroad or studies abroad? What is the best experience abroad?

When you have decided you want to spend some time abroad, the question comes up whether you should do an internship abroad or rather study abroad. I can speak from experience, as I have done both. I completed my Bachelor and my Master degree studying abroad in the US (I am from Germany originally) and I also did an internship in China. In addition to that, I have worked as an international internship coordinator and currently I help students to organize their studies abroad.  I would like to share my thougths with you and give you some ideas about the pros and cons of internships and studies abroad.

A big decision - internship or study abroad?Internship abroad:

When you do an internship abroad, you will have a much deeper insight into the everyday culture of the country that you are living in. While most universities all over the world have a fair number of international students, who usually stick together and do not immerse as much, you are forced to communicate and work efficiently when you actually work in a company with local employees. You will get a great insight on how to do business in this country, learn the cultural differences and practice your language skills on a daily basis. In addition to that, you can build up your network in a certain industry and establish contacts that might become very valuable for your future career. Also, internships abroad tend to be more individualistic, as there are usually fewer foreign interns in a company than foreign students at a university and you might even earn a stipend to cover part of your costs of living. Best of all though is that you hit two birds with one stone: You will gain not only experince abroad, but more importantly work experience abroad.

Study abroad:

Studying abroad, on the other hand might not give you the true experience, as most likely you will go abroad with quite a few other students from your country or even your university and as most international students tend to cluster with other foreigners, a true immersion in the culture is very rare. Also, and I can tell you from my own experience: Partying is pretty much the same, wherever you are, except that people don’t know you and you will most likely never see them again! Another great advantage of studying abroad is that you will not “waste” time and can graduate as scheduled. Of course, when you go abroad, you are in most cases not WASTING your time anyways, because you gain a lot of life experience through it, but if you are on a tight schedule, study abroad might be the best option for you.The world is yours!

I would say that any time spent abroad is a valuable experience, yet it can be completely different depending on what you are doing abroad. Studying abroad in a group might be the best option for somebody, who has never lived abroad, while an internship might be more of a challenge for someone, who has already some sort of experience in foreign countries. To make the most of your internship, you should already have a basic understanding of the language, as otherwise it will be very difficult for your coworkers to explain and transfer tasks to you and you should also stay for at least 6 months, so it is worth it, that the company invests in you and trains you to fullfil meaningful tasks.

What do you think? Do you think studying abroad is better than doing an internship abroad? Let me know!

More from MariaAbroad:

How to make the most of your time abroad

How to Study Abroad Video

Study Abroad Scholarships

China – Top 5 Study Abroad Destination

China – Top 5 Study Abroad Destination

Today, I found an interesting article that said China has become the 5th most popular study abroad destination for US college kids. For most of us, including me, this is a surprising development. Yes, we heard it all: China – the raising power in the east that eventually will take America’s spot as the most powerful economy in the world. It seems, College students have listened to these stories too and have taken action to become ready for a world under Chinese influence. Even though the Chinese economy was hit hard by the recent economic crisis, more and more business majors, law students and engineers go to China to experience the culture, make connections for a lifetime and learn the Chinese way of doing business.

Great Wall of ChinaHowever, there are more reasons why China is becoming a top destination for foreign students. First, I believe that students become more daring and adventurous with their study abroad choices. While England, France, Italy and Australia are still the top destinations for study abroad programs, more and more students want to see and experience something completely different to their own Western culture. If you stay for a couple of months in China, you will see and experience some things and situations that you can only experience there, whether these experiences might be wonderful or shocking they will always be remembered. Also, the culture of the Chinese people is very different and it certainly take a lot of adaptability to understand and function in this environment.

Another reason is of course the costs of the study abroad programs in China. While flights to Europe and China are about the same, the costs of liviChinang at a student level is much lower in China. You can find an apartment in the middle of Beijing’s student district for $ 250-300 and if you are daring enough to try the little “hole in the wall restaurants” and street food stands, you can eat out every meal and spend less than $ 10/day. In todays economy, where parents (still the main source of funding of study abroad activities) might have to cut back on funding even their childrens education, China is a cheap alternative to other study abroad destinations. Also, as the Chinese currency Yuan is linked to the US Dollar and does not fluctuate as much, it is especially for US kids and their parents easier to calculate a budget for the study abroad time than for example a study abroad program in Europe.

But there are not only great study abroad options in China, but also great internship opportunities in China. I did an internship in China myself and it is much easier to organize than an internship in Europe. Most Chinese companies feel proud, if a foreigner with a good command of the English language asks to work for them. However, I would recommend to study at least the basics of the language first, especially if  your host company consists of mainly Chinese people and you also want to learn something about your future profession. The more you know the language, the easier it will be to become integrated, make friends and actually do some meaningful work at the company.

Want to more about finding an internship in China? Read my blog post on How to find an internship in China!

P.S. If you want to know more about my experience in China, come back soon. I will start publishing a series of blog posts on my experience in China, including a Chinese Wedding, sharing a room with my Chinese colleague during a business trip and how I was kicked out of the country. Starting soon….

If you are interested in other off the beaten path study abroad options, check out these 10 alternative study abroad destinations!

How to find an Internship in China

How to find an Internship in China

You want to do an internship in China? But you don’t know how to get things started? Well, after I finished my Bachelors Degree, I decided to get some work experince abroad before starting my Masters and an internship in China seemed the best solution. My university (CIBU in San Diego) offered a study tour to China and after visiting this amazing country for 2 weeks, I knew that I wanted to go back there and get a deeper insight into this culture. Here is some information on how to find an internship in china, things you need to organize before you go and other helpful advice:china

1. Find an internship position:

- Contacts: Talk to any Chinese people in your network about your plans and ideas about going to China. Chinese are very helpful and will not only give you good advice and information about their home country, but it might happen, that they actually know someone in China that works in your field of study, who would be willing to become you host company. This is how I found my internship position and as networking in China is the way of getting things done, your chances are pretty high.

- Internet: Research on the web and check out the websites of your home country’s Chamber of Commerce network in China. Many of them do not only list jobs, but also internship positions in China. You can also research companies in your field on DMOZ or other industry directories and send your application directly to the companies that you want to work for. Regarding your resume, you should include a professional picture, date of birth, and list your work experience and education in chronological order.

- Internship plaGreat Wallcement programs and language schools: If you do not find an internship position in China through your contacts or the internet, you can also use an internship placement company. They will review your resume and find you an internship position in the field of your interest. Of course, this is less work for you, but it will cost you some bucks to find a good placement service. Also, some language schools offer an internship placement service, but you usually have to do a language course for a certain minimum period. This is actually an option worth to consider, as it will be a great advantage for you, if you already know at least the basics of the Chinese language. You will be able to take on more responsibilites during your internship and work more effectively with your Chinese colleagues. In addition, you will get a deeper insight into the Chinese culture and you can do more things on your own, as you don’t have to rely on others to help you with the language issues.

Here is a great book that I can really recommend for everybody that wants to organize an internship abroad DYI: The Imaginative Soul’s Guide to Foreign Internships: A Roadmap to Envision, Create and Arrange Your Own Experience It already came out in 1993, but it is still one of the best books on the topic out there. It has a step-by-step guideline of all the things you need to take care of and shows you why an internship abroad can be a great alternative in today’s job market.

If you are interested in going with an organized program, check out the following links:

Hutong Language School

InternAbroad