The Inside Scoop on Summer Internships Abroad

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If you’re a college student reading this, perhaps you’re already thinking how you can travel the world, open your mind, and develop a personally meaningful career? You’ve come to the right place, as we’re here to shed some light on summer internships abroad. If you’re a college student or young professional, it’s highly possible that your summertime is going to be the most advantageous time to schedule time abroad, while locking in a summer internship that’ll add to your experience and boost your prospects. 

two interns working together

Summer abroad internships are the perfect time to make new friends—and new skills!

Since there’s no time like the present to start planning (for either this summer or the next) we’ve listed some FAQs that are designed to help send you on your way with the best summer internships abroad!

7 important summer internships abroad FAQs

1. What is a summer internship?

An internship may go by different names—whether you call it a practicum, co-op, or service learning—but usually the point is to clock up some hours of work experience (perhaps for course credit, to satisfy graduation requirements, or to bolster college applications) so that you can develop your profile and resume, both personally and professionally. Scheduling summer abroad internships means that you’ll likely aim to secure a more short-term internship. This could be an opportunity that lasts from just four weeks or up to three months. 

Summer internships abroad for college students should be designed to give you some career insight, practical hands-on experience (within the scope of your capability), and enable you to gain guidance and feedback from other professionals who are already working within your field. Keep in mind that many internships abroad are unpaid and may even have associated fees, which are designed to cover services such as your airport pick-up, meals, accommodation, and international support. 

Be careful to ensure that you understand the acceptable differences between paid and unpaid summer abroad internships. If it is to be unpaid, ask questions to ensure that the internship placement is designed for the benefit and learning of the intern. Unpaid internship positions for college students should not risk the displacement of regular employees or reduce the availability of skilled-employment opportunities for local people.

surfers while interning abroad

Psh—summer internships abroad aren’t all work and no play. Even given surfing a go??

2. Why are summer internships abroad important?

Summer internships abroad for college students look good on paper—you can add it to your resume and build your list of reputable references. However, if you can also walk away from your internship feeling more confident, capable and worldly, you’ll have more than just a resume that opens doors—you’ll also have better personable skills to help you perform during job interviews. This character development is invaluable! As, when it comes down to making important connections with others, your social conduct, cultural intelligence, and ability to articulate yourself effectively will take you further than your resume can. 

Heading abroad to become a summer intern has some considerable perks (compared to landing an internship at home). You’ll soak up some diverse culture (maybe gaining second language skills), challenge your mindset, meet other like-minded travelers to broaden your international network, and explore any tourism attractions that happen to be on your hit-list. Consider summer abroad internships as an investment in a resilient career—being exposed to lines of work that are not available on your own doorstep may narrow down career choices, while also opening new windows of possibility that you didn’t know before. 

3. When (and how) do I schedule my summer internship?

Whether you’re planning for this summer or the next, it’s never too early to start thinking your fields of interest and the destinations that are calling to you. Every action begins with a dream or a thought, so plant the seeds of adventure for your summer internship now. Many providers of summer internships abroad accept applications year-round, with rolling admission and flexible start dates. So whether you’re planning for a gap year or just looking for an affordable short-term internship, begin by browsing online to research what you can do and where. 

stand up paddle boarders from above

Interning abroad: where drive meets adventure.

4. How do I find summer internships abroad that are right for me?

There are a few essential points to consider that will help you kick off brainstorming for the best summer internships abroad.

  • What’s your budget? Thinking how much you’re willing to spend on your flights can help narrow down your destination choices and that’s a great place to start. Check out GoAbroad’s guide on Understanding International Internship Costs & Fees to learn more how you can turn your summer internship abroad into an investment in yourself. 
  • Are you willing to fundraise or apply for any scholarships? Before you rule out any dream destinations, make sure you check out our tips for Paying for Your Internship Abroad (there’s some pointers in there scholarships and fundraising that you won’t want to skip). You may be more capable of traveling the world than you realize!
  • Explore your fields of interest. Many summer intern abroad programs for college students offer entry-level opportunities. If there is something you’ve always wanted to learn more , but don’t currently have relevant experience for, don’t be afraid to ask for more information. If you’re laser-focused on exactly what you want to get out of your internship abroad, shop around to compare fees and find an option that won’t break the bank. If you want more guidance, check out more advice on How to Find the Perfect Program Provider for Your Internship Abroad.

5. What are popular countries for summer internships abroad?

There’s no doubt that summer internships abroad in Europe have quite an appealing ring to them, don’t you think? However, it’s important to keep in mind that internships in Europe can often book up quite quickly in advance. This is because companies often shut down for holidays during the European summer, or employees are inclined to take leave during the summer, so there can be limited internship placements available (compared to during other times of the year). If you want to lock in your European summer internship, start planning sooner rather than later. Whether you’re passionate environmental internships in stunning destinations such as France, or if you’re looking for an internship in an important hub such as Dublin, don’t hesitate to start your research now.

If you’re eyeing up southern destinations for a summer internship abroad, then remember that you’ll encounter an opposite season. For example, internships in South Africa or New Zealand are wonderful choices for professional internships within an urban environment—but you’ll need to pack warm clothes for being there between June and September. Their big cities have a lot to offer, including awesome tourism activities, beautiful scenery, great food, and a relatively affordable cost of living (at least in South Africa!). Regardless of whether you’re interning south during your summer or their winter, you can learn to surf there year-round! 

Another fantastic location for summer abroad internships is Cusco, Peru. Despite the chillier temperatures during June and July, these months are also the driest, so you won’t have to worry your trip to Machu Picchu being ruined by the rain. (This is also the best time of the year in Cusco to make the most out of wearing warm, fluffy llama jerseys, socks and hats—so what’s not to love this ideal destination for your summer internship abroad?) Summer internship opportunities in Cusco can be incredibly diverse—from health and medical internships, to fields such as business, education, and tourism—there’s something offered for a broad range of interests. 

nursing student

Even nursing students can find international summer internships!

6. How much do summer internships abroad typically cost?

This is a good question and luckily, it’s something that you have quite a bit of control over. Just as there are expensive options, there are also affordable summer internships too, which offer excellent bang for buck. Any associated fees to cover services provided to you in-country (such as the accommodation or meals) should reasonably reflect the cost of living within a particular country or city, so choosing your destination and duration carefully can have a huge impact on your overall budget and the cost of your flights. Regardless of where you’re heading, and for how long, you’ll find summer internships abroad typically include costs like…

  • Don’t have a passport yet? You’ll need to obtain one of those.
  • Already have a destination in mind? Check the visa requirements and any associated fees (if you’re not sure, you can also speak with an internship program provider, so that they can provide more specific guidance). Some nationalities have to obtain a travel visa prior to departure, in order to be granted entry into a different country.
  • If your internship provider is charging fees, ask them to clarify what’s included and what’s not (i.e. meals? Accommodation? Airport pick-up?) Also, ask how much you should expect to budget to cover general weekly expenses (such as public transport costs, laundry services, internet/phone, extra snacks and meals).
  • Travel insurance—in my experience, this is a “must.” Even if you already have a comprehensive health insurance policy which provides coverage for any international medical emergencies, a dedicated travel insurance policy provides an essential layer of international support for other unforeseen events, such as flight delays/cancellations, lost/damaged bags, or having personal belongings lost or stolen. It’s no fun feeling left in the lurch in a foreign country, so take good care.
  • Packing all the things you’ll need—depending on what you’re going to be doing and where you’re going, you might need some new stuff. Whether it’s a new pair of hiking shoes for heading up Table Mountain, or a fancy new camera for your African safari, new equipment for a trip adds up—keep it in mind. (Here’s a internship abroad packing list to help you out!).
  • Keeping yourself healthy is always a priority but when you travel, you might have to take some extra precautions. Seek professional medical advice from your doctor so that they can advise you regarding vaccinations, prescriptions, or any extra medications you might want to add to your personal first aid kit. Get more health and safety advice for your internship abroad here.
  • Focus on booking affordable flights—once your summer internship abroad is confirmed, you’ll want to book flights sooner rather than later (as prices can become more expensive if you leave it till the last minute). 
  • Don’t forget your Fun Fund! Make sure you have enough spending money with you for leisure activities, nights out, or weekends away. To get an idea of what you might want to earmark for this, research tourism activities so that you can set aside money for the more pricey excursions or adventures you don’t want to miss out on.

7. Any advice on how to get credit for summer internships abroad?

Some summer intern abroad programs for college students are inclusive of credit but may charge significantly higher fees because of it. Other internships may not automatically provide you with credit, but may still offer you the appropriate conditions for you to independently have the internship approved through your academic institution, with credit granted accordingly. These kind of summer internship options can be a more affordable option. Speak with your academic advisor for advice if there is a summer internship abroad you’re considering. Even if the internship you have your eye on doesn’t inherently have credit built into the program, it could be just some light paperwork away from fulfilling your requirements.

You’re ready for summer internships abroad!

interns hanging out in a truck

Interns turned coworkers turned lifelong friends. <3

Ready to begin? Now that you’ve got a little more information up your sleeve, have fun researching and identifying the best summer internships abroad for you! No two experiences are alike and there’s something everyone. To help you get started, check out recommended and affordable summer internships abroad for college students in South Africa, Costa Rica, Peru, and Ireland. If there’s any questions summer internships abroad that we didn’t answer this time, don’t hesitate to reach out!

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This article was contributed by Intern Abroad HQ, an organization dedicated to building connections between young professionals and international internship opportunities. As the sister organization of International Volunteer HQ, one of the world’s leading volunteer organizations, Intern Abroad HQ offers unparalleled, comprehensive, experiential learning programs.