Internships, Service/volunteering, Jobs, Fellowships
Many Amherst students are interested in getting experience abroad at some point in their career. It is not always easy to find good international opportunities, and the purpose of this handout is to help you understand your options and seek opportunities appropriate for your personal and professional goals.
International internships – like all internships – are excellent ways to gain experience, build your resume, and try out potential career paths but they are unique in that they have the potential to offer you exposure to a different language and culture and an opportunity to enhance your cross-cultural skills. There are several ways to find internships abroad. The first is through internship programs offered by organizations, study abroad programs, or other program providers. The second is by finding your own internship through connections or online resources.
These are formalized programs that create internship opportunities for students abroad, and they are broken down into several categories:
Pay for Placement
There are a growing number of internship programs that place you in an internship. They often provide on-the- ground support such as housing, training/orientation, extra opportunities for professional development, or onsite liaisons or directors. They may also offer social and cross-cultural programming. Sometimes they offer credit for the experience, although Amherst does not grant credit for internship programs. These internship programs typi- cally require a program or “placement” fee, and the internships are usually unpaid. These resources can help you find internship placements:
- Intern abroad
- Transitions abroad
- Go Overseas
Before you register for an internship program, read the section on “Questions to Ask” for important questions that will help you investigate the reputation and fit of the opportunity.
Through an Organization
Some large international organizations have developed an internship program that offers mostly U.S. domestic and a few international opportunities. They are usually unpaid and competitive. These are a few examples:
- U.S. Department of State
- United Nations
- Human Rights Watch
- U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): There are a small number of internships at overseas bureaus, especially in Africa
Internship Search Resources
There are many other opportunities for international internships, but they tend to be harder to find. Below is a list ofresources that you can use to search for international internship postings:
Finding Hidden Internships
If you do not want to participate in a formal international internship program, it’s time to start looking for the unpostedopportunities. This takes more work and will require networking with and contacting organizations of interest directly.
Do you know of anyone in the country or region where you would like to intern? If not, there are several ways to search. You can use the Alumni Directory to search for alumni who work in a specific country. They may not work in a field that interests you, but they might have ideas about opportunities or suggestions for where to look. Use Linke- dIn’s Advanced Search tool to look for people who work in a specific country. You can also do a keyword search with the name of the country to see who has some connection to the country.
Contacting the Organization
If you would like to intern at a specific organization abroad, check their website about internships. If you do not see any information, you can try to contact them directly. Smaller employers may not typically hire interns, but they might be thrilled to host an intern who has something to offer, especially if you are receiving funding from another source and do not need to be paid.
If you are contacting the organization directly, be ready to make your pitch for why you would like to intern there, and what skill, knowledge, or specific type of project you can offer.
Funding for International Internships
The vast majority of international internships are unpaid, and some even require that you pay in order to be placed in an internship that is a match for your skills and interests. If the internship is unpaid, you may be eligible for funding through Amherst College. If you have to pay a program fee, use IIE Passport to search for funding. This site mostly covers funding for study abroad but there is some available for internships.
International Service & Volunteering
Service and volunteer work are additional ways to go overseas and gain cross-cultural experience. Depending on the type of experience, you may also be able to develop professional skills.
Service & Volunteering Resources
There are many programs that connect you to these opportunities, and the following resources will help you search by length of time, region of the world, and topic of interest (health, children, conservation, etc.):
- Peace Corps
- Go Overseas
- Go Abroad
- Transitions Abroad
Questions to Ask
After you’ve chosen a volunteer or internship opportunity that interests you, take the time to gather more information before you commit. Not all organizations that offer these opportunities are created equal, and it’s important to learn as much about the organization, work/projects, and any fees as you can. In addition to using Abroad Reviews and Go Overseas to see reviews from participants in certain volunteer programs or organizations, make it a point to ask the following questions:
- Is the organization for-profit or nonprofit?
- How long has the organization existed?
- Is it clear what you’ll be doing while you’re abroad?
- How do they choose the volunteer/service projects or sites?
- How long would your commitment be?
- Do you receive a stipend or is there a program fee? How much and what does it cover? How much is covering administrative costs versus your actual costs on the ground?
- Do they have pre-departure or health and safety information to share with you before you go?
- Is a visa required? If so, what is the process for applying?
- Is housing provided?
Is the country/city where you will be located safe for foreigners? Check the Department of State website for travel alerts and warnings.
- Are there in-country staff to help you if need be?
- Do they have references (previous volunteers/interns) that you can talk to about their experience with the program?
International jobs are not easy to find, and your success will most likely depend on where you’re at in your career, how badly you want to be abroad, your flexibility in what type of work you do, the reality of your financial situation, and your connections. As a recent graduate, it is more difficult to find opportunities in your field of interest unless you speak another language, have a highly desirable skill set, know people, or are willing to volunteer or intern first. Later in your career, you may be able to find a way to travel or work abroad through your organization if they have oversees offices or partnerships.
Job Search Resources
English as a Second Language (ESL)
Your knowledge of the English language is an ability that you have to offer to many employers around the world.Whether the opportunity is in a university, school, or institute, there is a huge need for ESL teachers, and this can be away to get to a country and start to make other connections while you seek other opportunities. There are many online resources to look for ESL teaching opportunities, and here are a couple:
- Transitions Abroad
- Teaching Abroad
Other Job Opportunities
If you know that you do not want to teach or are interested in other types of opportunities, check out these resources: