Interning Abroad: FAQs

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Sylvia Waechter
April 29, 2024
A laptop sits on a desk in an outside area

This semester, I've been working for Professor Baris Ulker on his research on immigrant entrepreneurship in Berlin. This position has involved a lot of work on Excel sheets cleaning data. It's definitely a grunt-work position, but the experience has been very valuable for me. Between navigating work environments abroad and learning how to use various data analysis programs, I've gained a lot of skills from my time here. The required internship seminar has also granted me a better understanding of Berlin's history and work culture, preparing me for a the possibility of a career in Berlin.

Although getting an internship while abroad can be an exciting prospect, it's also a big undertaking. From the time commitment to the type of positions offered there are many things to consider. Below, I outline some of the questions that I had before getting an internship and questions that people have asked me about my internship. Hopefully this can help when making the decision on whether or not to intern while abroad

Q: What are the advantages of doing an internship abroad?

A: Experience and connections! Interning abroad is a great way to get unique work experience. Talking to some of my mentors I’ve learned that employers value work experience abroad because it shows a diverse background and ability to adapt to different situations. The professional connections you make abroad can also be a great asset when job hunting in the future. If you have aspirations of working abroad in the future, the connections you make at your internship could be the key to a long-term position. I’ve talked to people that have secured summer internships in Berlin through their current internship, so take advantage of the opportunity.


Q: What positions are available?

A: Currently, I’m working on a research project conducted by one of my professors at IES Abroad doing data cleaning and analysis. Other positions are primarily at start-ups or volunteer organizations working with marketing or just basic clerical work. In my opinion, the options for positions are pretty limited but your internship coordinator will work with you to find the best fit for you.


Q: Do I need to speak German to get an internship?

A: No! Although speaking German will offer more opportunities for placements, English will work just fine for most positions. You can also highlight other languages you might speak outside of German and English, these might be useful for positions working with immigrants or the international community.


Q: What kind of experience are employers looking for?

A: Honestly, any professional or academic skills you have can be suited for an internship. Your internship coordinator will work with you to find a placement that fits your skills and interests. They will then reach out to employers to find positions that match your experience.


Q: How much of a time commitment is an internship abroad?

A: In short, a big one. To get credit for your internship you must work a minimum of 80 hours. This averages out to a little less than 10 hours a week, plus commute time if your internship is in person which could be up to an hour both ways. Although this may not seem like a large amount of time, it can be a bit overwhelming in combination with classwork and personal travel.


Q: What does ‘professional clothing’ look like in Berlin?

A: Generally, most of the internship placements are pretty laid back, so you probably don’t need to worry too much about professional dress. I would recommend you bring at least one pair of pants that are nicer than jeans and a pair of dressier shoes in case you have an event you need to dress up for. However, there’s no need to bring a blazer or heels for your internship.


Q: Can I get paid for the internship?

A: No. Due to our legal status as students, we cannot get paid. However, you will take an internship seminar class so you can get credit for your internship at your home school.

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Sylvia Waechter

Guten tag! My name is Sylvia, I'm an Urban Studies student at the University of Illinois - Chicago and I'll be studying in Berlin, Germany this semester! I'm a total public transportation nerd and love to write reviews of different transit systems that I ride on. Follow along as I explore Berlin, travel around Europe, and continue my education as an 'Urbanist in training'.

2024 Spring
Home University:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Urban Studies
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