Seeking an Internship for International Students

So you’ve made the leap, followed the detailed and multi-step checklist to procure the student visa, and are now officially an international student. In the US alone there were over a million international students in 2018 and another half a million in the UK, so you have made an impressive step to expand your network, enhance your academic experience, and explore a new country. 

It is no hidden fact that real-world experience in an internship prior to graduation can increase employment outcomes, with NACE reporting that over a three-year study that “graduates with more internships had higher odds of being employed relative to seeking employment six months after graduation.” If the end goal of your studies is to gain employment, then both domestic and international students are in the same boat: You need to start thinking about gaining internship experience and we hope this article on ‘seeking an internship for international students’ will help you do just that!

You as an international student hold a strong list of skills to stand out amongst the crowd when it comes to employability, including:

    1. Initiative – Having removed yourself from the comforts of your home and country, you have shown initiative and drive to stand out from the crowd and study at an international university. This initiative allowed you to prevail through tricky visa applications, homesickness, and adapting to your new surroundings.
    2. Curiosity – Any world traveler has a wealth of curiosity in store and you just proved that with your international student status. Curiosity in the professional world can mean that you don’t take an answer at face value or the simplest solution but instead seek to find the best answer or the right solution.
    3. Language Skills – In an ever-changing and globalizing world, having the ability to speak more than one language can do wonders for your resume/CV and can let you stand above the other candidates when applying for specific jobs. 
    4. Communication – Communication skills go beyond language skills as they encompass written and oral skills used to relay details in a clear and articulate fashion. These skills were enhanced as you began your studies in another language learning to communicate with alternative words or even in alternative ways. 
    5. AdaptabilityThe ability to take in new environments, challenges, and cultures, finding success in living abroad as an international student is the adaptability that will allow you to quickly problem solve while on the job, adapting to different work cultures and styles, as well as different roles. 

While we can readily identify the many skills increased through your journey as an international student, the next step gets a bit trickier: How can we take these skills and apply them to the all-important internship?

Easier said than done right?

For an international student seeking an internship, there may be roadblocks to obtaining a domestic role that is either full-time, paid, or both. Regardless, in your search for an internship it is always best to start close to home, and by this we mean extremely close to home, your Career Services.  Every university has career services ready to support any and all students with the challenges of navigating the professional world and job search. Any student, especially an international student, who does not start here is ultimately slowing down their job search as Career Services can readily:

  1. Review your resume/CV – This is extremely important as while the foundations that make any resume/CV strong, formatting and content will be the same throughout the world, certain key details and country specific nuances may make your resume/CV get tossed before it ever meets the recruiter’s inbox. 
  2. Advise on internship eligibility – Depending on the country you are studying in your work rights may be non-existent or quite robust. Regardless, ensuring that you know how you can legally take on an internship in your host country will be extremely important to understand, ensuring that you do not break any visa regulations nor get yourself in a non-ideal situation. 
  3. Help you articulate your skills – As noted above, as an international student you have gained and showcased a wealth of skills in your journey from application to arrival on campus. Visiting your Career Services for an interview workshop can help you become more comfortable interviewing in another language and prepared to answer all questions with confidence. 

Are domestic internships nearly impossible for international students in your host country? Then do as you’ve done before: Go International!

International internships have the same professional outcomes of a domestic internship allowing students to gain hands-on professional experience to apply to their job search in the future. International internships also give the added benefit of a study abroad experience allowing the interns to live and work in a new country, fully embedded in the culture. As an international student seeking an international internship it is important to ensure: 

  1. Visa eligibility: That you can legally intern in the country you have chosen. 
  2. Internship Quality: Are you able to vet and understand the quality of the internship placement from afar?

These two details can be difficult to ensure and if your university is unable to support you in finding your own internship, looking to your university’s study abroad office for a list of recommended providers will be your best bet in finding holistic support for an international internship. Providers such as CRCC Asia guarantee an internship placement and have staff on the ground able to vet in person the quality of your placement and supervisor ensuring that the internship will add value to your resume and be a positive experience. We are also well versed in the visa policy for the countries we work in and can advise and support international students in getting the necessary paperwork together to procure a visa. Often this can be an impossible step as companies are reticent to take additional steps to sponsor visas and working with a provider can surpass this hurdle. 

When applying to an international internship never forget:

  1. Let your language ability shine! We often have interns apply for a role and when we ask if they speak any languages, they note Spanish, Italian, German and more but don’t have it on their resume/CV as they were applying to an internship in Japan. Many companies seeking international interns are globally facing and the more languages you speak the better. Perhaps you will work for a Chinese company looking to expand to the Spanish market and they were seeking Spanish speaker to support the initiative? Ensuring all your skills are clearly noted on your resume/CV is essential.
  2. Articulate how the experience will help you in your country of study and in your home country – Being able to note how an international internship will be applied to your educational experience as well as your job search back home is a key point to tell in the interview process, allowing you to tell the story of your career management.

If going international, again doesn’t seem like the right answer, then head home!

Last year more than 10% of our 850 international internship participants were international students returning to their home country to gain crucial internship experience. Seeking an internship for international students in your home country can help you build the necessary networks for your future job search upon return as well as flex your new skills obtained from living abroad to include enhanced English language skills and problem-solving. Many international students use providers such as CRCC Asia as the internship culture may not actively exist in your home county and using a provider will allow you to tap into their built culture and company network around internship and professional development. Providers can also support international students who are seeking experience in extraordinarily large cities such as Shanghai or Seoul, as opposed to their hometowns as we provide accommodation, emergency support, and a built-in network of other interns to socialize with. 

Regardless of the path you as an international student takes in gaining an internship, know that there are a multitude of options out there and you should explore the different avenues you can take before committing. If you have more questions about opportunities for international students don’t hesitate to head to your career services, ask fellow international students in the same boat, or reach out to CRCC Asia for an advising call to discuss your opportunities internationally. 


Seeking an Internship for International Students Written by Jillian Low

Our Team Jillian Low US University Relations Manager