No matter at the undergraduate or graduate level, a student’s first priority at university should be, well, their studies. From lectures and seminars to labs and projects, days are filled with class, homework, library study sessions, research, and tutors with the singular focus of excelling at subject matter.
Add in a part-time job or two and some extracurricular activities and there are just not enough hours in the day to add in a professional internship experience!
Consider that after graduation, without an internship, only 43.5% of students got a job offer according to College Recruiter in 2019. Because of this, planning and setting aside the time for an internship during the summer is crucial.
Preparing for a career in an international setting can not only give students the necessary work experience but can provide an added boost to stand out in a sea of resumes. A survey of study abroad alumni showed that 90% landed a job within 6 months of graduation. I like those odds a lot better!
According to a NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) survey completed in 2019, employers rated the eight most essential career readiness competencies. What this means is that employers value these traits the most when hiring fresh college graduates.
These skills are the secret to getting the most out of an internship and landing a job out of college. Like The O’Jays famously sang in their hit 1975 song, “You got to give the people what they want!”
Students should advocate for tasks and projects that will specifically develop and sharpen these tools of the professional toolbox.
Let’s take a look at the four most important competencies that employers look for and how an internship abroad can enhance those skills.
Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
People have a knack for creating problems. Some people are exceptionally good at it! But the real key is how to solve them. Learning how to address challenging situations in a professional environment is not an overnight process but a skill that takes time to develop. An internship can provide the setting for you to cultivate your unique approach.
Add in navigating a metro, communicating with locals in a foreign language and learning the ins and outs of the host city culture, interning abroad means critical thinking and problem solving 24/7!
The best asset to any company is their team. Employers want their future employees to contribute to a welcoming and collaborative workplace atmosphere. No Negative Nancys or Debbie Downers here!
Interning abroad affords students the chance to work with people of very different backgrounds. Embracing cultural differences is the norm and provides a chance to exchange with coworkers and understand the “why” behind specific customs.
Navigating the workplace and working with company team members in different departments such as marketing, operations, and IT happens on a daily basis. Group projects are not just for classes!
Just because you do not wear a suit into the office does not mean you are unprofessional. Employers want people to approach their jobs in a manner that befits the expertise they display for their craft. Responsibility, behaving in an ethical manner, honesty and integrity are just some of the traits that are highly valued.
What better way to truly understand how to act in an office then to be in an office. Interns are exposed to the daily routine of what it takes to succeed in the workplace.
A strong work ethic goes the extra mile although it can be harder than you think to put into words. It takes a lot to intern abroad: completing the application process, visa procedures, and organizing the various logistics takes a lot of time and effort. It is an achievement in and of itself!
Can you think of a time when information was communicated to you really well? How about when it went terribly? I bet a lot more stories come to mind! According to an Interact survey, 69% of managers said that they’re often uncomfortable communicating with employees. Um, what?!
On the job experience allows interns to practice their communication skills both written and orally. Writing blog posts, composing emails, giving presentations and speaking to coworkers and customers all coalesce for some really great opportunities to find your professional voice. You know you are communicating well when things go smoothly and without a hiccup.
Not to mention all of the communication that takes place with locals outside of the office!
As you can see, a couple of months of international internship experience during the summer can drastically affect one’s job prospects after graduation. Bookmark these career readiness competencies and keep them in mind when developing your goals for this experience. The hard work will certainly pay off!