Working, interning or volunteering in another country can be an excellent way to gain experience in a field, enhance language and other global skills, and experience life in another culture. It’s important to review your own goals for going abroad, and then research the current social, political, marketplace and economic trends that may affect your plans.
When it comes to searching for international opportunities, many of the steps mirror a domestic search, but there are some additional considerations, nuances to the application process and special search strategies.
Time and Timing
Create a realistic plan for how much time you can spend abroad and still meet your most important goals. Can you fulfill any personal obligations you might have? Is that sufficient time for a company or organization to invest in bringing you on as an employee, intern or volunteer? Is the timing of your stay convenient for your host organization or will it be necessary to make some accommodations?
Visas and Legal Matters
Research country-specific requirements to work legally and enter with the correct documentation. Are you eligible to work or volunteer 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? Internships can be subject to specific visa requirements and it is critical to explore them at the start of your planning. International students at Brandeis who want to work in the United States should seek expert advice at the ISSO. View resources.
Health and Safety
Check on any specific health and safety issues in your country of interest as you are conducting your research. View resources.
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. Are there scholarships and grants to help you fund your work? If an organization cannot provide a salary, inquire if they might consider assisting you with housing costs, commuting costs or meals, for example, during your stay. Volunteer opportunities and most internships are unsalaried and you cannot rely on getting a paid part-time job to cover your expenses while you intern or volunteer, since paid work also has a specific set of visa requirements. If you use a program to arrange your internship or volunteer experience, the program may charge a fee; is financial aid available from the provider? View resources.
Research the reputation, history, and costs of any potential host organizations and understand the exact terms of your responsibilities. Contact past students who have been affiliated with the host organizations to learn more.
Resumes, CVs, and cover letters vary in format and requirements by country. Research the format for your country of interest. Going Global offers specialized information on jobs and internships in 34 countries across fields, industries, and organizations including resume, CV, and cover letter samples.
Your Field Abroad
What is currently happening in your field in your host country? How do people usually get work in your field in your host country (apprenticeship, personal referral, past experience in the company's "home office," newspapers, etc.)? Does your host country allow foreigners to work in your field and, if so, are there restrictions around what you can do on the job?
National Employment Landscape
What is unemployment like in the country? Is it easier to find work in your field of interest in some cities or regions than others? How much money do people in your field make in other countries and does the amount allow you to meet your financial needs and professional and personal goals? Are there other things happening in the country that would affect your job search?
What skills are you marketing to potential employers? Are they a good match with your field and the employer’s needs?
Many multinational companies reserve overseas work for employees who have completed training or a certain number of years at the firm. Will your target company allow you to start overseas or will you begin in the “home” office and build toward overseas assignments?
Abundance of Choices
Volunteering can be more flexible than full-time work or interning. Countless organizations in the public and private sectors consider requests for volunteering. The key to a great experience is to research organizations where there is a good fit between their work and your goals. Developing a clear set of goals for what you would like to learn from your volunteer experience will be the foundation for choosing one organization from among many possibilities.
You may have to take on more responsibility for shaping your experience as a volunteer. For example, your organization may not have a formal program or you may be working in a number of locations under several supervisors. Prepare for independence by connecting with Hiatt counselors, faculty and fellow students who can share ideas and advice about how to develop learning goals for your time away and pursue them successfully .
No Formal Oversight of Organizations
There is no body or institution that systematically rates, evaluates or manages volunteer organization s or opportunities. However, there are ways to gather specific information: research the company or organization online or through your network and Brandeis experts; ask organization representatives direct questions about issues that may be important to you, such as housing, health, safety and emergency procedures, volunteer duties, supervision, finances and transportation; and request the names of past volunteers you can contact to find out about their experiences.
There are a few different types of full-time job opportunities to consider:
Locally-owned organizations or businesses
The overseas branch of a multinational company (i.e., the office of an American firm or firm from your home country operating in another country)
Organizations that routinely hire people from other countries, such as research labs, hotels and international NGOs
Companies to which you have been referred through contacts and/or networking
International internships and volunteer experiences are defined and named in different ways in different countries, but typically they are either advertised positions, self-initiated opportunities by proactive outreach to an organization working in your area of interest, or a component of a formal study abroad program.
As with domestic job, internship or volunteer searches, some opportunities are advertised and others are communicated “person-to-person.” Breaking into the job, internship or volunteer market in a new country requires strategic thinking and action. Consider these strategies:
Take advantage of your own network of friends, family, teachers, co-workers, Brandeis alumni and former or current work supervisors to help you locate and negotiate internships and volunteer opportunities abroad. Get in touch, share your goals and ideas and seek out advice and referrals. Learn more about networking.
Join professional associations in your field and check out their websites. These networks are a great source of information, contacts, and jobs
Locate an organization that is doing the kind of work you would like to explore, share your goals and negotiate a position.
Visit specialized websites that broadcast job, internship and volunteer opportunities in worldwide and country-specific formats. 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.
Brandeis Internship Programs
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.