Black Enterprise spoke with Andrew Gordon, founder and president of Diversity Abroad, the leading international organization that connects diverse students, recent graduates, and young professionals with international study, internships, and job opportunities.
How do you get to intern overseas?
First, students need to think about what it is they want to do, and how interning abroad fits in with their career plans and plans for post-graduation. There is a cost involved in doing the internship, so really asking those questions is important.
For example, if you’re interested in banking or finance, you might want to do an internship that lends itself well to that type of career.
Secondly, look for the type of internship you want to do and a location that makes sense.
If you want to do banking, for example, you might think of London since it’s the financial capital of the world.
But if you’re in Madrid, Lisbon, or Paris, you might actually get more exposure and have an internship that’s more intensive because there will less of a concentration of banks and banking services than there would be in London. It’s similar to the dynamic of working at a small company where you get more hands-on experience than you would at a larger company.
Do you need a passport?
Most internship organizations are unpaid and offer students the opportunity to earn credit for their time abroad. However, others work with college graduates as well.
What about housing? Internship programs will include housing or will help you find housing. You pay a fee because that’s part of the service you’re paying for.
You have to pay for the internship?
For a credit-based internship, you’re paying about $500 for the processing fee. Costs vary-—there’s not a clear floor and ceiling. Some programs cost under $3K and others more than $10K. But grants and scholarships are available.
There are also American companies that offer global internships, like Ernst & Young. A growing number of professional services firms offer internships abroad for really talented students. Companies that are looking to diversify are looking for a diverse group to participate in global internships as well.
Internships are a wonderful way to supplement a study abroad experience, or to have a completely separate experience that students can use to augment their résumés.
Do you have to know the language? Knowing the language of the host country is always a benefit because it opens more opportunities for you. But not knowing it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Learning the language is part of the internship or study abroad experience.
For more information, consult the Diversity Abroad internship guide.