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What do you consider an internship?
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 also an internship supervisor and specific learning goals in addition to the description of the work to be carried out. If the internship entails 100 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 Pre-Advising Worksheet 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. In addition, they can help get you signed up for Handshake for job and internship postings.
- Check the internships in the IIP database.
- Network with advisors, faculty, family, and friends – they may have ideas or 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 resources listed in the previous answer. See our list of external search resources such as CareerGate and GoinGlobal which are larger search sites you have access to as a UW student. You may also try going to specific company/organization websites to see what opportunities they have available or contact information to develop an independent internship. 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 our database regularly for new opportunities.
We are happy to advise on these other options, and support with credit and/or scholarships if relevant, but you’ll need to take the lead on your search!
I am already accepted in a study abroad program and want to do an internship while I am abroad. How should I do this?
Whether you can do an internship depends on your program. Some programs allow you to add on an internship (or even have a built-in internship option – search for Internship as an Area of Focus or Academic Credit), others do not allow this. Talk with your study abroad advisor or program for more information.
If your program allows an internship, 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 you would like to receive credit through the Worldwide Internship Program course and you are on an IAP study abroad program you can request that by the beginning of the term.
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, sometimes students can do our cultivated internships as their final undergraduate experience and graduate abroad, with departmental approval. The 3 credits from the WIP course 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) and you are more than welcome to apply.
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 so 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?
When possible IIP tries to cultivate internships with some remuneration, unfortunately this is not always possible based on the type of organization and location. Corporations may be able to offer interns a stipend, housing, meals, etc. to help with costs, but this is not possible for most non-profits. Some countries also 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 the Office of Student 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 your internship and major. Many IIP, study abroad, campus, department and national scholarships are listed on our funding page. Note many require enrollment in credit during your internship. You should also check with your department to see if there are travel grants or scholarships for international opportunities. Visit WiSH for more university resources as well.
Are interviews required to get an internship abroad?
In many cases a representative from the organization will interview candidates they are interested in. Interviews are generally via Skype; occasionally via phone or in-person. We try to specify interview information in the internship posting, and 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 to talk about it as well. This is not an interview as we are not involved in the intern selection.
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 with updates from host organizations. 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.
If you are looking at U.S.-based internship be sure to keep in mind CPT or other considerations for doing an internship in the U.S. (CPT does not apply to internships outside the US).
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 exact requirements BEFORE going abroad. 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 100 hours minimum, but you may need more to meet your requirement. The 3-credit online seminar for WIP is currently recorded as IS-523 on your transcript. You can request another course equivalency through your department or they can make a DARS exception so it is good to gain their pre-approval. Figuring out the requirements before you go abroad 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 primarily. However, we occasionally have opportunities that are open for graduate students, which you can search for in the database. You can also use our External Page to find your own internship. The WIP course is intended for undergraduate students; with the permission of your department/advisor you may be able to take the course if it is relevant. Feel free to contact us with questions.
I don’t meet every requirement for an IIP opportunity. Can I still apply?
This will depend on the requirement and opportunity. In general you should consider how well you meet overall requirements 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. Note that some qualifications may be “preferred” rather than “required” in which case they are not necessary. Use your cover letter and resume to state why you’re a good candidate and which areas you are working to develop. Keep in mind that you may better meet the requirements in the months between the application deadline and internship start date (e.g. your academic standing may change or you may complete a relevant course).
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 the complements your internship abroad. We advise on internships for credit with WIP and those done not-for-credit. IIP cultivated internships require participation in WIP, but students can also propose external or independent internships for WIP.