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Internship Searching While Abroad: A Balancing Act

June 10, 2019

So you've decided to study abroad. It's fall of your junior year, and you're gearing up for your spring semester away. Summer seems too far off to think about, and so you put off your internship search until spring, assuming you'll have time while you're away to figure it out.

If this sounds like you, read on.

For myself and many of my fellow study abroad students, this was the reality. Whether it was because of laziness earlier in the year or inconvenient application timelines, we found ourselves abroad in our European paradise and nonetheless thinking about the next step instead of enjoying our semester. Luckily, I emerged from the semester with two ideal internship opportunities and greatly look forward to starting them in the summer. Here are some tips on how to handle this search while making sure to get the most out of your abroad experience.

1. Seek out local resources

One of the greatest benefits I got from my abroad experience was access to local networks through my university or my own independent search efforts. In a greater attempt to try and identify the types of internships I was looking for, I connected with local professionals on LinkedIn, organized informational interviews, and attended conferences in my chosen field. All of these connections led to a solidification of what my next steps might look like, while at the same time offering a better understanding of local office culture and businesses.

2. Manage your time

Don't let your internship search take over your life. If you work best during the day, spend time writing applications and sending emails in a local cafe, at once furthering your search while also sampling local favorites. (My favorite thing to do was head to Cafe Krull in De Pijp and nosh on a warm apple pie, a Dutch delicacy, while searching online for opportunities.) If you're more of a night owl, make sure you hit up local museums, events, and sights during the day while carving out your evenings for work. Determine a set amount of time each day to think about your search and spend the rest of your time enjoying your abroad experience.

3. Use your university career center

Most university career centers are happy to make skype appointments for students who are abroad. For specifics on how to get started with the process and navigate its twists and turns, contact them. The Brandeis Hiatt Career Center was tremendously helpful for me throughout my search, reassuring me every step of the way.

4. Stay positive and keep moving forward

The internship search process can be extremely stressful and emotionally draining. If you’re like me, you’ll hear ‘no’ a lot, which can be really demoralizing and negatively impact your overall emotional health and well-being, and subsequently your abroad experience. Don’t let this get to you. Understand that it’s a process that it takes time, that it might not end exactly the way you want but certainly will turn out to be a learning experience, regardless of the outcome.

Pictured: My visit to Rainforest Alliance HQ in Amsterdam, one of my favorite organizations!


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