International Search: Internships

Internships are defined and named in different ways in different countries. Common to all of these experiences is the opportunity to develop skills and explore careers through a combination of hands-on work, specialized training and/or personal mentoring. Although an international internship search is similar to that of a domestic internship search, the specific tips and resources below will help you begin planning for your international internship.

Types of Internship Opportunities

International internships are most commonly found in these categories:

  • Formal industry- or organization-based opportunities
  • Formal country-initiated internships for foreigners
  • Self-initiated contact with an organization that is working in your area of interest
  • A component of a formal study/intern abroad program

Key Considerations

Before you begin your international internship search, there are several important issues to consider:

Time and timing: Can you dedicate sufficient time to working at the organization to meet your goals? Are you going abroad during a time of year that accommodates short-term work in your host country or will you have to strategize around timing?

Visas and legal matters: Internships can be subject to specific visa requirements and it is critical to explore them at the start of your planning. Are you eligible to work legally in your potential host country? What are the regulations about working there (paid or unpaid, any amount, however small)? What are the procedures and time frames to gain proper authorization? International students at Brandeis who want to work in the United States should seek expert advice at the ISSO.

Financial matters: Most internships are unsalaried and you cannot rely on getting a paid part-time job to cover your expenses while you intern, since paid work also has a specific set of visa requirements. Do you have a solid estimate of the total costs you will incur? Have you set a realistic budget for your time away? Are there scholarships and grants to help you fund your work?  If you use a program to arrange your internship, the program may charge a fee; is financial aid available from the provider?

Health and safety: Be sure to check on any specific health and safety issues in your country of interest as you are conducting your research.

Cost: You will determine what combination of expenses and available financial resources is right for you. Be sure to have a good idea of the total costs you will incur, including international and in-country transportation, living expenses, incidentals, insurance, additional travel or sightseeing, passport, inoculations, specialized equipment, etc., before making any commitments.

Compensation: If an organization cannot provide a salary, inquire if they might consider assisting you with non-monetary compensation such as housing, local commuting or meals, for example, during your stay.

Best Search Strategies

Some strategies and resources specific to the International internship search include:

  • Personal network: Your network of friends, family, teachers, coworkers, Brandeis alumni and former or current work supervisors is very important in locating and negotiating internships abroad. Get in touch, share your goals and ideas and seek out advice and referrals. Learn more about networking.

  • Advertised internships: Because “internships” are defined in different ways worldwide, there’s no one source for finding internships abroad. It is best to check broader international listings that include work, internships and volunteer options to find opportunities, no matter what they are called, that meet your goals. Consider Going Global (accessible via B.hired > Resources), the Riley Guide or our International Search resources.
  • Self-initiated contact: Locate an organization that is doing the kind of work you would like to explore, share your goals and negotiate a position.
  • Brandeis Internship Programs: Be sure to investigate funded internship programs such as Hiatt’s World-of-Work (WOW) Program, the Ethics Center Student Fellowship, Davis Projects for Peace, Eli J. Segal Citizen Leadership Program and the Louis D. Brandeis Social Justice Internship Awards.
  • Brandeis International Centers and Experts: Consult the many regional and international centers and experts at Brandeis to learn about opportunities, receive advice about the country you would like to visit and get connected with others who have interned in the past. Start at the Global Brandeis Portal.