Things to Consider Before You Apply For An Internship Overseas
An international internship experience is an investment. Like all investments, there are costs and benefits. It’s your job to figure out if an intern abroad experience is worth it for you.
To help inform your decision, here are some things you should consider before committing to an internship…
Why? That’s the first question. Why do you want to intern abroad? What do you want to take away from this experience?
If you’re wondering whether there is a correct answer, there isn’t. There is no right reason for desiring an international experience.
You need to contemplate why an intern abroad experience is compelling to you.
Do you want to travel? Are you looking to get professional experience in your dream career? Are you trying to learn more about yourself by living in a foreign country and taking a step back from your normal routine?
These are all valid reasons. Again, we like to stress that this is an investment for yourself. Whatever your reasons are, make a list and set it to the side as you consider the costs of the program…
Arguably the biggest factor on people’s minds when they’re looking at going overseas is money.
Realistically, interning abroad is an expensive endeavor. Our program fee is €2,460. A round-trip flight costs between €500 – 1,500 (depending on where you live). Housing costs range from €600 – 1,100 per month. Then, you’ll have to factor in living expenses on top that. (So many numbers.)
Don’t let that put you off. Not yet. While money is a huge concern, it should not be a deterrent. There are numerous funding options available out there.
Scholarships. There are many notable scholarships out there. Don’t write them off. The “return on investment” (basically what you get for your effort) is more than worth it if you think about it. Oftentimes, as a scholarship recipient, you’ll be receiving thousands of dollars in return for a handful of hours of your time.
A lot of people think there’s no way they’d receive the scholarship as there’s so much competition. Sure, that may be true. But the chances of you receiving funding if you DON’T apply is a big fat 0 of a goose egg. The likelihood of receiving an award is often greater than you think. For example, one notable scholarship, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, awards scholarships to 1 in 3 applicants. (Eligibility is determined by whether or not you receive a Federal Pell Grant.)
Loans. If you’re taking out loans to pay for your college tuition, you’ve made the decision that college is a worthwhile investment. The thinking is your education will open up more opportunities for you. When you’re debating taking a loan out for an internship abroad, you’re using the same line of thinking. Does the benefits of an experience abroad justify the costs?
Fundraising. Many crowdfunding campaigns fail. The reason they fail is simple: people expect others to give them money they did not earn. This isn’t charity; money is not free. An effective campaign outlines the purpose of your international experience and how you will achieve that goal. You’ll also want to show what you are doing to make this happen (working part-time, giving up your daily morning Starbucks coffee, etc.). And, finally, what other ways can you provide value to your sponsors and the world? Perhaps, you’ll start a blog, accumulate an impressive photography portfolio from your travels, or gain skills that will help you save the world’s endangered animals.
Another factor that should come into play is time. When are you hoping to come? How long will you stay?
As we allow for flexible dates, it’s down to you to decide your arrival and departure dates.
Consider your personal schedule. Summer is the obvious choice especially if missing a semester’s credits is out of the question for you. For those of you who can afford to miss a semester, are required to do an internship for your major, or have already graduated, the spring or fall would work as well.
As a citizen of a country listed under the Schedule 1 designation, you’re allowed to stay in Ireland for up to 90 days while working an unpaid internship. Most people fall within this category. For those of you who are looking for an experience longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a working holiday visa (only available to citizens of select countries including the US, Canada, and Australia) which allows you to stay in the country for up to 12 months.
Usually, we recommend experiences that range from 6-12 weeks long. It takes time to settle in and adjust to your host organization. A stint that is less than a month long can feel rushed, giving you little time to breathe. A two or three month experience gives you time to learn and contribute all you can to your placement. Of course, every stint is different so do what’s right for you.
If you’re intrigued by a longer internship with the working holiday, just remember to consider the costs needed to cover rent and living expenses.
Now that you have a clear picture of what’s involved in attaining an internship abroad, bring it back to where we started and compare it with how you think you’ll benefit from the experience.
Will it help me professionally? How important is practical experience when it comes to my industry or field of interest?
Will it help me academically? Studies show studying abroad can make us “smarter” (as in more flexible, creative, and complex thinkers). Can I receive college credit?
What is this experience to me? Is this my first independent trip abroad? Is going to Ireland a way of rediscovering your roots? Are you trying to do something that’s outside your comfort zone?
We’ve said this a couple of times now and we’ll say it again. It’s important to know… why?