Global go-getter

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I want to intern over the summer. Should I look for internships abroad?

This question touches on the educational experience of nearly 10% of all U.S. graduates who have studied abroad. Horace Greeley said, “go West, young man”. Now, students are going abroad. Students should not need an explanation of the importance of overseas travel in a multicultural and multi-national economy. Most of overseas student travel is for short-term study, less than a semester. While around 500K students study abroad each year, less than 20K travel for internships. This does not correlate with U.S. government figures that around $3.5 trillion was imported and exported last year. Many companies reported lost business opportunities because they lacked the expertise to transact business overseas. Yet, we still need to give you reasons to intern abroad.

According to a report by the Institute for International Education, study abroad programs have tripled in the past two decades and the current number of U.S. students studying overseas is at a record high. Many come from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) backgrounds, a sector in which the U.S. is lagging on the international field.

Many consider a study program or internship abroad as a life-changing decision. Not only will it stand out on your resume, it will also boost your professional talents and move you ahead of other graduates who have not been abroad.

Travelling to a new country and culture will boost for your confidence. You will get an insight into foreign work environments and learn how to adapt to them, which is vital in international business. Cultural awareness and the ability to communicate across language barriers is a big plus for a potential employer. We observe how our interns gradually adapt to a new environment, reports real estate agent Ryan McCann. This real-life experience is more valuable than a college course.

A major life lesson learned when travelling is independence. Living overseas can be daunting, but once you are interning on your own it will grant you a sense of empowerment and independence, you will come back a far more confident person.

Networking is a fundamental aspect of doing business today, having an international network of contacts spread across different countries opens more doors or opportunity for you. The interns we bring into our Brisbane law firm get a valuable experience and conversely help our own staff learn about the U.S. system, reports one overseas employer. Getting a global experience and meeting new colleagues, managers and friends abroad will expand your connections and the possibility of future employment once you have graduated.

Being at college does not necessarily help you advance your ‘soft skills’ which are generally referred to as interpersonal or people skills. Living and working overseas will immerse you in different cultures, religions, work ethics and ways of life. Your interaction with the people you meet will result in your growth as a more rounded individual.

There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign… Robert Louis Stevenson.

Written by John Regan, former Director of Sales, for equity research.