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First Time International Internship Crash Course

Your favorite Internship Coaches at CEA Study Abroad thought that the following topics were important enough to consolidate into 5 points that will support you in having a successful internship abroad. Take in mind that everything that's noted may not resonate with everyone, but take what you need and apply it where you can!

Here are the top 5 tips to exceed while interning abroad: 

Be Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Remember that you are in a new country experiencing a different reality, so keep an open mind towards this experience. It's completely okay to not have everything figured out! Enjoy your time with the company, the teammates you work with, and the lessons you learn along the way. 


Curiosity is Key

Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions. Whether it's because you cannot figure something out after trying or even if you would like to learn more about someone's role at the company (we dive into professional networking a little bit later), questions can always be helpful. Use this opportunity to figure out what parts of the job you do and do not like. Exposure to your particular internship role and the industry can help you form your own opinion. Maximize this experience by developing an idea of where you would like your career path to be in the future.  

Professional Relationship Building

Did someone say professional networking? Developing connections with your colleagues and other interns is super important! This internship is a great opportunity to start your network, and making international connections is an invaluable asset to have as you enter the workforce. You never know where your career path will take you, and having relationships all around the globe can benefit you in ways you may not expect. This networking can happen by conducting informational interviews and/or through the simple act of connecting on LinkedIn. 

So You Say You're Organized? 

Just as you (hopefully) do in your coursework—develop a rhythm that works for you! Here are some easily overlooked skills that have helped many people succeed through remaining organized: 
  • Stay up-to-date with your online and physical calendars. I.E. accept calendar invitations, review your schedule, and plan your days ahead of time
  • Responding and following up on emails: Even if this means that you do not have an answer for whom ever you are communicating with—a response with a status update is better than professionally "ghosting" someone. Read more from The Muse here.

It is also a good idea to keep a journal or online folder where you can track of things you did well, challenges you faced, knowledge you gained, and all feedback/coaching you received from your supervisors. This can become a great resource for you to find answers to common questions as well as a way to look back on your time abroad.  

 Company Culture

Do more than learn about the technical nature of the job—pay attention to culture! How do your international colleagues interact with one another? What is the communication style in your host country? How do your teammates want questions to be asked? These all may vary from what you are used to in the US but will give you fantastic experience working in an international space. Furthermore, understand workplace etiquette—remember, the expectation is that you will be mature, respectful, and show off your work ethic.   

We hope that these tips become useful for you not just for your internship abroad experience, but also beyond as you dive deeper into your professional career!


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