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Overseas Internship Guide

Internships are a valuable opportunity to gain experience, professional insight and practical skills for the workplace. Many students don’t realize they can apply for an internship abroad, but as long as you have free time with your course, there’s no reason not to!

What will you gain from an international internship?

  • Practical, hands-on experience
  • Enhanced resume or CV
  • Network opportunities
  • Experienced mentor in your field
  • University credit or allowance (in some cases)

Oftentimes, internships can also directly lead to job opportunities that you may not have known about before. If an intern provider doesn’t have a position open for you, they can usually point you in the right direction and give you good recommendations. Otherwise, with an international internship on your resume, employers around the world are impressed and will want to book you for an interview.

In addition to professional opportunities, an internship abroad can provide valuable insight into the culture and workplace customs of the country where you live and study. For example, there is a huge difference between the workplace in Sweden compared to the United States, and you will only be able to experience it firsthand if you join the workforce yourself! Once your internship is complete, you will have a better understanding of the values ​​and work ethic expected of employees in your host country.

Are you excited to start an internship abroad? First, there are still some things to consider! Read on to gain a better understanding of all the internships available to you as an international student studying abroad and how they work.

Types of internships abroad

There are many different types of internships available for you to choose from depending on your field of study or personal interests.

International Internship for credit

Universities and colleges work closely with companies to offer students internships for academic credit. These credits give you hands-on experience while meeting your academic requirements. Internships for credit are a great way to achieve two goals at once.

Academic internships can be arranged through your academic advisor and can last for 1-2 semesters. To receive credit, students may be asked to keep a journal, write an essay, or make a presentation about the experience.

Summer internship abroad

Summer internship programs are usually shorter in duration and can last from a few weeks to the entire summer. This internship provides academic credit or experience in your field.

Most commonly, summer internships are arranged with your school, but independent internship opportunities can be found in fields such as tourism and hospitality.

There are many types of summer internships offered to students. You can choose from a paid summer internship program, a high school summer internship, or a location based internship.

Non-profit internship

Nonprofit internships are typically for organizations such as charities, schools, government agencies, religious organizations, or hospitals. The purpose of a non-profit internship is to provide a public service to the community. Internships in nonprofits are usually unpaid but look impressive on a resume or CV.

Study service

With this unique type of internship, you work for an organized community organization such as a library, shelter, or community center. The service learning program is structured in a three-step process that requires participants to:

  • Define project goals and objectives
  • Do service work
  • Present their experiences in presentations or papers

Examples of community service projects could be taking part in a reading assistance program in a library, working with veterinarians at an animal shelter, or designing a playground in a community center. Through service learning, you receive transferable skills while benefiting society.

Shadow of work

Shadow jobs are also known as “externships” and are similar to internships but shorter, lasting from only a few days to a few weeks. Job shadowing is used as an activity for high school or university students to explore various career options.

Students in job shadowing will spend time observing their mentors while working with other professionals. Job shadowing is a great way to gain insight and experience while helping you decide on your career direction.

Whichever type of internship you choose, you will have the opportunity to transfer your academic knowledge to real-life experience.

Depending on the company or organization, compensation may be offered. Internships with no financial benefits still offer candidates many rewards.

Paid internships give you the opportunity to gain experience while being paid to work! Companies that offer paid internships are usually in the private sector.

Paid internships are offered in specific areas such as engineering, law, or IT internships. Therefore, a great way to gain the practical experience you need to find a job in your industry after you graduate is to find an internship in your chosen field. That way you get the most out of your international internship!

For obvious reasons, paid internships are the most sought after and employers often use them to recruit new employees. The compensation paid during this internship is not comparable to a full-time salary but is similar to an allowance to cover basic living or travel expenses. It also means that being accepted for an internship is more competitive.

Therefore, it is important to show the company that you are the best candidate for the position. Highlight the fact that you are studying abroad and bring valuable critical thinking, problem solving, and cross-cultural communication skills. In today’s globalized world, language skills are in high demand, so don’t forget to mention any language you speak too!

Unpaid Internship Abroad

Unpaid internships are a great way for students who are not licensed to work in their host country to still gain the work experience needed to successfully find work after graduation. Before moving abroad, students should consult with the government agency that approved their visa to see which job opportunities they can pursue while living and studying abroad.

While you are not financially compensated for your time, you can reap many other benefits, such as experience that you can incorporate into your resume. In addition to the experience, you can also expect to make many friends and professional contacts that you will have long after the study abroad experience is over. This is very important considering that many students start their studies without knowing anyone.

Even if your time isn’t paid for, it also means your schedule is often more flexible. This is great for students studying abroad as it gives you the flexibility to experience their international internship, attend college, and still enjoy their new city with all the new friends they meet.

Overseas Work Placement

Work placements are usually shorter than internships. This type of placement is offered to those who are still enrolled in the school. Work placements are usually part of your program or can be completed on-site.

In comparison, internships are usually longer, typically lasting up to a year. Internships are not only conducted by students but also for recent graduates and those who wish to change careers.

Overall, paid internships, unpaid internships, and work placements allow you to apply your academic knowledge in the workplace. This experience will undoubtedly give you an advantage when entering the job market and building your resume.

Applying for Internships Abroad

Applying for an internship takes time and patience, but you can increase your chances of finding the right internship abroad faster if you know what to expect. Preparation is key, so make sure you have everything you need to make a good first impression. It starts with a professional CV or resume and a well-written cover letter. Then once you’ve assessed the interview, it’s up to you to impress the employer with all the skills, knowledge and experience you can bring to the internship.

Start with the following checklist to put yourself on track to find your ideal international internship:

Perfect your resume. Be clear and avoid mistakes in formatting, grammar, and typos.
Use your network – find internships by asking professors, friends and family for professional contacts.
Gather documentation for internship applications, including transcripts and possible letters of recommendation.
Ask your professional contact if you can use it as a reference. Or, ask for a recommendation from a professor.
Have someone you trust check all of your documentation for errors and provide feedback.
Don’t forget, the earlier you start looking for an internship, the better!


When applying for an internship, take the time to clean up your resume or CV. Avoid long resumes and try to make them easy to read. Ask a mentor or teacher to read it for suggestions and double-check for errors.

You can start by making sure your resume is organized into clear, logical sections so employers can quickly and easily see your education and experience. Don’t forget to make sure all the information is also up-to-date. Be sure to include your most recent work experience and what courses you were in at the university. It never hurts to check quickly to see that all of your contact information is accurate too.

Since you are studying abroad, it is great to highlight the skills and knowledge that study abroad teaches to differentiate yourself from other candidates. These are skills that cannot be taught in the classroom, only through hands-on experience, making them valuable to succeed in your international internship. However, it’s easy for this particular type of experience to overlook if it’s not done right on a resume.

To increase your chances of getting an interview score for an internship abroad, consider these tips when placing study abroad on your resume:

Highlight any languages ​​you have learned during your experience.
Include international social organizations you follow or run
Demonstrate the skills you learned in and out of the classroom while studying abroad
You can also read our article on placing study abroad on your resume or CV for more tips and advice to make your study experience speak for itself!


A cover letter for an internship is a one-page document that introduces yourself and highlights why you are the best candidate for the position. Just like job applications, internships require a cover letter attached to your application.

The 3 common types of cover letters are:

  • Standard cover letter
  • Reference cover letter
  • Proposal

A standard cover letter demonstrates your ability to effectively communicate why you are qualified for the position. You should mention the position you are applying for and how your skills will benefit the company.

The second type of cover letter is known as a referral letter. This type of cover letter is used when someone has referred you to the position. When writing a referral letter, you should immediately mention the person who referred you to the company. A referral letter is a great introduction to a company, and can help increase your chances of being noticed in the application process.

The third type of letter is called a letter of interest. It is written when no specific position is advertised but you are writing to express your interest in the company.

Remember that a cover letter is the first thing an employer will read, so take the time to compose the letter as best you can!


A transcript is a record of your grades and academic achievements and is one of the most common components of an application for an internship. There are two types of transcripts: official and unofficial.

Official transcripts are issued directly from the university and sealed and mailed directly to the recipient. Official transcripts may take between 4-8 weeks to arrive, so be sure to order them in advance so that they have time to arrive. This type of transcript also usually costs a small fee to copy.

Unofficial transcripts can usually be printed directly from your university website. These types of transcripts are not issued or sealed by the school and are not always accepted for application.

Make sure you read carefully the type of transcript required for your application and plan sufficient time for submission to meet application deadlines.


Letters of recommendation are written by a third person and highlight your skills or academic achievements. The letter should address your professional strengths as well as the strengths of your character. The best people to ask for letters of recommendation are teachers, employers, or organizations you’ve been with.

Letters of recommendation for internships are an important aspect of the application process thus giving authors plenty of time to prepare. It’s best to ask at least 3-4 months in advance.

In conclusion, internship applications can require many types of documents. You should ensure that you read each application guide very carefully and that you allow sufficient time to gather everything you need to apply.

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