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4 Reasons You Should Do an Internship Abroad

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It’s 6:30 AM and my alarm goes off.
By 7:30, I’m out the door and headed to the train station. I catch the train and then make it to the ferry, my new favorite form of transportation. As I cross Sydney Harbour, I sip my tea and catch a glimpse of the Opera House passing me on my left.
By 8:45, I am walking into my office. As I sit in my chair overlooking the Taronga Zoo, I can honestly say that I never thought an internship would be part of my time abroad—but now I couldn’t imagine studying abroad without it!
Ever thought about doing an internship abroad? Here’s how I did it and why you should too.

IFSA Made it Easy

As I learned more about the University of Sydney through IFSA, I discovered that they offered a course, ARTS 2600, that consisted of an internship with a company. What better way to further my learning and understanding then by working abroad? I immediately spoke with the IFSA program advisor, Hannah, to talk about the steps that I would need to take to make this opportunity a reality.
The program is highly competitive, and it requires applicants to have a strong academic background with a 3.2 GPA or higher. I worked directly with Hannah as I filled out credit approvals and send in my application material, including a CV and cover letter. I was accepted into the program and became even more excited to get to Sydney. I was sent a booklet with all of the organizations that host students could work with and was able to rank a few of my favorites in terms of expected tasks and overall interest.

During my first few days at the University of Sydney, all of us students in the course met with the program directors. We talked about our possible placements and what to expect during our first interviews with the organizations. I had been offered an interview with the Taronga Zoo’s Marketing team where I was set to meet with the team lead. After my interview, I was offered the position on the spot!

I worked 120 hours throughout the semester, a requirement for the course. Throughout my time at the Zoo, I wrote and edited marketing materials, and sat in on meetings to share my ideas with the team. There was also a class component to the course where we learned vital skills about networking, résumés and career goals. After its successful completion, I received academic credit which was reflected on my transcript from Butler University.

The IFSA staff was extremely helpful in terms of guiding the process and making it as easy as possible. So now that you know that the process isn’t hard, here are four reasons why you should consider doing an internship abroad.

1. Complete Immersion

Having an internship abroad is a great way to get immersed in a different aspect of your new culture. Not everyone has the opportunity to work in another country and learn from the professionals there. My work with the Marketing Team at the Taronga Zoo taught me so much about what work life in the country was like. I learned about cultural differences in the Australian workplace and also had the opportunity to share a bit of my culture with the people I worked with.

2. Unique Experiences

Interning allows you to get work experience while living in a new country. Being able to add this to your résumé is a great talking point with employers. It’s a unique experience that many students don’t have the opportunity to take. At each interview I’ve had this semester, my internship at the Taronga Zoo has come up! The experience can also help lead to a career path abroad if this is something you are interested in.

3. International Contacts

My professional network has grown in ways I would have never expected it to.

Not only did I leave Sydney with new friends, but I also left with professional contacts across the world! My professional network has grown in ways I would have never expected it to. I have formed lasting relationships with my boss, co-workers, and other interns!

4. Breaking out of your Comfort Zone

Nothing screams stepping out of your comfort zone than taking a job abroad. Starting a new job at home is nerve wracking enough, but doing it in a different country is taking it to a whole new level. This experience challenged me in a professional setting and showed me what I was capable of.
Before deciding to intern abroad, take a moment to reflect on why you’re going abroad and what you hope to get out of the experience. Doing an internship abroad is challenging and definitely not for everyone, but if you’re on the fence, I urge you to take the plunge! It is worth it and by far one of the most rewarding experiences from my time abroad.
Jacqueline Klimek is a Psychology student at Saint Joseph’s University and studied abroad with IFSA at the University of Sydney in Australia in 2015.