We follow the NACE definition of “an internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.” There must be an internship supervisor and specific learning goals in addition to the description of the work to be carried out. If the internship is at least 96 hours of work over at least four weeks abroad you can apply to receive credit through the Worldwide Internship Program.
I want to do an international internship, but I don’t know where to start. What should I do?
There are several resources on campus that you should start with as you begin your search. Our Workbook for Planning your International Internship is a good place to start.
- Talk to your Career Services office. They can help you with your resume and provide advising on internships and careers to help give you direction. In addition, they can help get you signed up for BuckyNet or myECS for job and internship postings.
- Check the internships in the IIP database for UW-Madison specifically or non-UW opportunities.
- Talk to your academic advisor about internship opportunities ideas and any resources they may have.
- Network with faculty, family, and friends – they may have contacts to connect you with opportunities.
- Come to IIP for advising on the ideas and opportunities you are considering.
I have looked in the IIP Database and don’t see the country or field I am looking for an internship in. Where do I go now?
Check the other resources listed in the previous answer to see if you can find an opportunity. See our list of external search resources. You may also try going to specific company/organization websites to see what opportunities they have available or contact information. If you have a specific country in mind the Wisconsin Alumni Association group in that country may be a resource for networking and reaching out as well. Fee-based placement programs are another route to consider. Also, be sure to check back as we update our database as we develop and hear about more opportunities.
I am already accepted in a study abroad program and want to do an internship while I am abroad. How should I do this?
Great! Some programs have an internship option built into them so be sure to read all the program information you have received. You may be able to work with the program directly to secure an internship after you arrive – talk to the international office staff or career services locally. If your program does not have an associated internship option you can search for an internship through the other resources. If you would like to receive credit through the Worldwide Internship Program course and you are on an IAP study abroad program you can do that by the beginning of the term. If you are on a non-IAP program you will need to apply for the WIP program by the standard deadline. As you look into an internship with study abroad please read this great guide about Networking and Study Abroad from Go Global! @ UW. Study abroad is also a great time to start networking for a future internship or job.
Can I still do an internship cultivated by IIP if I am a senior and the internship will take place after my planned graduation?
No. However, we do have students do our cultivated internships as their final undergraduate experience and graduate abroad, with departmental approval. The 3-credits will count as in-residence credit for graduation. Some opportunities, from IIP and external listings, may require that you be a continuing student (returning to campus) in which case you would not be eligible. Many fee-based placement programs do accept recent graduates.
I’m already abroad. Can I still get advising and apply for internships?
Absolutely. We are happy to advise via e-mail or Skype (uw-iip). Students abroad are more than welcome to apply for our opportunities. Monitor our database or Facebook and Twitter to keep up on opportunities and deadlines. You should specify in your cover letter that you are abroad such that organizations can keep in mind the time difference for interviewing via phone or Skype, if required.
Many of the internships I see abroad are unpaid – why is this?
Where possible IIP tries to cultivate internships with some remuneration, but unfortunately this is not always possible depending on the organization or location. Corporations may be able to offer interns a stipend, housing, or even airfare to help with costs, but this is not possible for most non-profits and some countries have laws about the level of compensation that can or must be offered to foreign interns. These unpaid opportunities, however, still offer you great work experience to develop your skills, network and expand your knowledge in a global environment. By incorporating the internship into your education with a course, you can also be eligible for scholarships and financial aid to help fund this.
Can Financial Aid apply to my internship?
This depends on your financial aid eligibility, types of grants, duration of the internship, and number of credits received. It is best to talk to financial aid to review your options and confirm eligibility based on your specific situation. If you are in the Worldwide Internship Program we will report your costs including tuition, insurance, airfare, and your anticipated in-country living expenses for financial aid consideration. For more information and resources please see the Financial Aid page from IAP study abroad.
What scholarships are available for internships abroad?
That depends greatly on the internship experience. If you are receiving credit many study abroad scholarships may apply to you. Visit our funding page for more information. You should also check with your department to see if there are travel grants or scholarships for international opportunities. Visit Scholarships@UW-Madison for more university resources as well.
Are interviews required to get an internship abroad?
In many cases a representative will interview any candidates they are interested in. This may be someone from the U.S. office on campus or via phone/Skype or it could be from the local office where you would be interning. We try to specify in a posting if there are required interviews to be scheduled, but otherwise you will be notified if one is requested. In some cases offers are made without interviews. When you apply to an IIP-cultivated internship opportunity we will meet with you briefly to talk about it, but this is not an interview as we are not involved in the selection of students.
I applied for one of the IIP opportunities, but haven’t heard back yet. When do we find out?
We try to notify all applicants as soon as possible after the internship placement has been finalized. If it is several weeks after the application deadline and you are waiting please feel free to contact us for an update. Please note that some opportunities take longer than others to make final decisions.
I’m an international student. Am I eligible for opportunities?
Of course! Many host organizations are actively seeking international students who offer local knowledge and language skills along with their UW-Madison education. Exploring an internship in a third country is also a great option to continue expanding your international experience. Depending on your citizenship and the host country there may be different visa considerations for your internship so be sure to let us know early. If you are looking at an internationally-focused U.S.-based internship be sure to keep in mind CPT or other considerations for doing an internship in the U.S.
My major/certificate requires an internship or field experience. Can I do this through the Worldwide Internship Program (WIP)?
In many cases, yes! You should talk to your advisor to find out the exact requirements. All majors and certificates vary in the requirements for the number of hours and nature of the internship or field experience. WIP requires four weeks and 96 hours, but you may need to do more to meet your requirement. The 3-credit online seminar for WIP is currently recorded as IS-320 or IB-365, but you can request another course equivalency through your department so it is good to gain their pre-approval. Figuring out the requirements before you start is important to making sure this will be an option.
I’m a graduate student. Can I apply for internships or take the course?
Our office works with undergraduate students only. However, we occasionally have opportunities that also have positions available for graduate students, which you can search for in the database or use UW-IIP CareerGate. The WIP course is intended for undergraduate students, but with the permission of your department/advisor you may be able to take the course.
I don’t meet every requirement for an IIP opportunity. Can I still apply?
It will depend on the requirement and opportunity, but in general you should consider how well you meet what the host is looking for overall rather than each specific item. The competitiveness of internships varies greatly so you may still be a good candidate even if you don’t fulfill everything listed. Also note that some qualifications may be “preferred” rather than “required” in which case they not necessary. Use your cover letter and resume to make a case for why you’re a good candidate and address areas you are working to develop. Keep in mind that deadlines are early and most requirements intended to be met by the time you leave if you think your GPA will increase or you will take a class or learn a skill they are looking for in the coming semester. IIP is happy to advise on questions about eligibility or how to make a strong application.
What is the difference between the International Internship Program (IIP) and the Worldwide Internship Program (WIP)?
The International Internship Program (IIP) is an office on campus that both develops specific internship offerings for students and advises students on a variety of options to do international internships. The Worldwide Internship Program (WIP) is an academic program offered by the IAP study abroad office in collaboration with IIP. We advise on internships for credit with WIP and those done not-for-credit. Some IIP internships require participation in WIP and others recommend it, depending on the internship location and hosting organization.