Offering an Edge: Internships Abroad
Original article by Kerrie Kennedy for The PIE Review. Below is a summary, all credit goes to the original author.
Recently, Ms. Mo was interviewed for The PIE Review, a magazine for professionals in International Education. She was featured in an article about internships abroad and how they can provide an edge for your future. The job market is becoming more and more competitive, and it is important to have something that can help you stand out of the crowd. In the United States, around 38% of university students do an internship before graduating, whereas in the United Kingdom, an estimated 70,000 internships are on offer at any one time. With so many people entering the workforce, students and employers no longer want to accept subpar work placements. Fortunately, international internships can offer much more than domestic internships.
Having a local restaurant experience with new friends!
“The Competitive Edge”
“An internship abroad gives students an opportunity to experience business practices in another culture, learn a new language and expand their professional network in a supportive environment,” industry relations director at Sommet Education in Switzerland, Claire Lecoq told The PIE Review. “Students often cite internships as a defining experience on a personal and professional level,” she says. “Between study abroad options and mandatory internship semesters, undergraduate students can live, study and work in up to five countries by the time they graduate.”
Edward Holroyd Pearce, co-founder of CRCC Asia points out that the most popular sectors are typically those in which employability sees the highest levels of competition. He has noticed that students from the UK were likely to pick up roles in finance, law, or marketing whereas he sees a lot of engineering students from the US. Pearce continues by pointing out, “a nice trend that is really taking off is universities recognizing the value of these opportunities; they are putting their money where their mouth is and investing in mobility experiences.”
Not too long ago, universities were still uninterested in global internship opportunities. However, now more than ever universities are partnering with international internship providers. At Global Experiences, a US provider based in Maryland, now has 50 academic partners worldwide, but CEO and co-founder Emily Merson explains it wasn’t so easy at the beginning. “When we started in 2001 we wanted to give access to opportunities that students, mainly in America, wouldn’t otherwise have through their own or a parent’s connections. We wanted students to see the world in a different way – not just study abroad; really live within a local culture. But it took a long time before we were embraced by the university community,” she explained.
Exploring new lands with local friends and friends from all over the world!
All Work & No Play
While many people look at internships as a way to test-drive their future careers, internships abroad can also appeal to those who like to think outside of the box when it comes to developing their skills. Ms. Mo had a very good example of this and begins by talking about one our alumni, Bryant Chu. Chu was a unique student who looked at this opportunity much differently than others would. He chose a culinary internship even though he was pursuing a medical-engineering career. This may seem like an odd choice, but Ms. Mo explained to The PIE, “As part of his degree he designs medical equipment for patients, yet he applied for a culinary internship, explaining that first he loves cooking, secondly his job is patient facing so he wanted to understand different types of people and thirdly, learning a new art would help him think creatively and design better equipment.”
While the article mentions that many students flock to the US, Europe, and Australia, business, trade, and finance placement opportunities in emerging countries are gaining serious momentum too. “Because [it is] one of the must destinations for businesses to invest in Southeast Asia, having experience [in] Vietnam could be advantageous to students,” Ms. Mo points out. In addition to providing an advantage for students, Vietnam can also provide more. “Vietnam is a peaceful, friendly country, and we offer opportunities to be immersed in the local life,” she adds. Not only is interning abroad advantageous for the student, but also for the local businesses they work with. Hosting an international intern is the cheapest way for a company to prepare itself for international reach and it also encourages the workforce to practice their English. “If the company wants to broaden their business out of the country, they need to learn about another culture.”
Bryant Chu and his coworkers at BLOOM Saigon
Overall, internships abroad can be extremely beneficial for your future. They offer a competitive edge in addition to providing you with experiences that can’t be matched in a domestic workplace. However just picking up an internship abroad isn’t always enough, you have to make the most of your situation. Sometimes things won’t live up to your ideals, as it can be very challenging to live and work abroad, but it is a challenge that will be worth it and provide you with valuable experience for your career and future.
Thank you to The PIE Review for featuring us! You can find the full article here starting on page 16.
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