Guidelines for Internships Abroad

Internships abroad offer valuable and unique opportunities and challenges for students and the institutions and organizations that organize them. While internships abroad can look very similar to internships in the U.S., there are additional issues to consider.

For students, adjusting to a new setting and culture is common to all education abroad experiences. Interns abroad must also learn to navigate the intricacies of the culture of work in their host location. Additionally, an internship abroad may represent a student’s first professional work experience, which may include workplace stress and demands. Together, these factors require additional preparation, support, and reflection.

For institutions and organizations, there are many moving parts to manage. Students can go abroad with interning as the primary goal or as one part of their academic program. On U.S. campuses, students may seek advising for international internship opportunities from either the education abroad office, the career services office, or their academic advisors. Generally, career services offices will have more expertise about the values and challenges of internships domestically, and education abroad offices are better equipped to navigate the logistics of experiences abroad and prepare students for the cross-cultural challenges that await them. For each, advising for internship programs abroad is qualitatively different from the advising they do for other types of programs. The best outcome results when these offices work together to ensure that colleagues across the institution, including faculty, are knowledgeable about internships abroad. Organizations coordinating internships can be instrumental in helping advisors understand how internships abroad are different from domestic ones, and how to prepare students effectively.

In all cases, managing the expectations and relationships among the student, the internship site, the coordinating organization, and the multiple stakeholders at the home institution is key. These Guidelines can help stakeholders navigate those relationships by offering advice for facing the specific needs and challenges presented by internships abroad. Use them in conjunction with the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad.


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