In 2019 I studied abroad for five months in Ireland at the National University of Ireland-Galway. My experience was incredible, but fast fleeting, and at the end of my time in Galway I found myself wondering when I would ever be able to get back to Ireland again.
I didn’t want to choose between gaining work experience during the summer and traveling back to Ireland. That’s when I discovered international internship opportunities with the help of the UW-Madison International Internship Programs (IIP) office. International internships can jump start your future career, set you apart from other applicants, develop your cross-cultural communication skills, and expand your global network.
The following steps are how I found, applied, accepted, and funded my international internship to get back to my study abroad location and how you can too!
1) Do your research
When you google “internships in Ireland,” 23,100,000 results pop up, most of them describing fee-based programs. For someone who already studied abroad (and spent a significant amount of money doing so) I didn’t want to pay an administrative fee for my internship.
Unless you have citizenship or a residency permit in the country you want to go to, sites like Indeed and LinkedIn usually won’t work because they will require this. Look on recruitment websites, check out the IIP external search page and investigate sites like Idealist or Omprakash, or talk to friends with international experiences!
One beneficial strategy was Googling businesses or organizations that I was interested in and looking to see if they had an international office in my study abroad location. Even if they don’t have an internship program, you could write them and see if they would be willing to take an enthusiastic intern who already loves their city.
Be persistent in your search, cast a wide net, and don’t be afraid to hear “no.” This kind of determination sets you apart from other candidates, both international and local.
2) Use your personal connections
I also began contacting my Irish friends and asking how to find jobs as an American citizen in Ireland. Your Badger connections can also help you in an international internship search. If you are currently studying abroad, connect with Badgers by doing an informational interview or reach out using LinkedIn! (Pro tip: check out the “Where they Work” section on the UW-Madison Alumni LinkedIn page to find Badgers living abroad).
Contacting the people you met during your study abroad experience is a chance to find opportunities you may have never known existed. Your personal connections could create an opportunity or point you in the right direction. Connecting with my Irish friends helped narrow my search and focus on specific websites that could help me. Through this advice I was able to find an internship right for me!
3) Look for guidance from your university
So now you have an internship. What next?
Now is time to find out the logistics: do you need a visa in the country you are interning in? Can you receive college credit? How about access to travel and health insurance while abroad? Not sure? It may be time to seek guidance from your university.
Not all universities have offices specifically dedicated to international internships but, luckily, at the UW the International Internship Program can help you navigate these logistics. Through IIP, I will be able to take the Worldwide Internship Program (WIP) course for credit (which includes travel insurance and 24/7 emergency support). The advisors helped me find scholarships and navigate the visa process.
Finding an international internship is not always easy, but at UW you don’t have to go through this process alone!