Real World Experience

Interning Abroad Provides “Real World Experience“

Study abroad and internships are two experiences that can set students apart from their peers, particularly when looking for a job and applying to graduate school.  Studies have shown that combining these experiences can magnify the benefits gained by students.  Indiana University’s Education Abroad sponsors over 20 study abroad programs that have an internship component, with more being added each year as demand increases.

Self-understanding and maturity, an increased commitment to school and a more focused career path are a few of the benefits students gain by studying overseas.  The successful completion of a study abroad program can show employers and graduate programs that a candidate can adapt to different communication styles, work with a variety of people and succeed in an unfamiliar setting.

Internships give students the opportunity to take ideas and theories learned in class and apply them in a work setting.  Students get a taste of what a career in a specific field might be like and gain experience with office culture.  For many students, an internship is the first chance that they get to prove their professionalism.  The “real world experience” of an internship completed abroad can add an important dimension to a student’s resume or application and also provide some interesting examples to discuss in an interview.

IU awards academic credit for internships that are done with an academic course that ties the experience together.  Santiago, Dominican Republic and London, England are two of the many program destinations where students can earn academic credit for successfully completing an internship.  A semester in Santiago provides internship opportunities for students in public health, medicine, or education-related organizations; London offers a semester or summer option with internships in government, media, commercial and healthcare industries.

“I wanted to work in politics while I was studying abroad, both to broaden my studies and to immerse myself in another culture,” says IU student John Peterson who studied in Dublin Ireland, “My advisor found me an internship with the Labour Party, the third largest political group in Ireland.  I was ecstatic.  I worked for a large political party, took classes that you would never find in America, and learned something new everyday.”

With proper planning students are able to study and intern abroad and still graduate within four years.  Meeting with a study abroad advisor to develop an academic plan is crucial for a timely graduation. Freshmen are encouraged to be in contact with the staff at Education Abroad, even if they do not plan to study abroad until their junior year.

Originally published in CampusLink, IU Parent's Association newsletter, Spring 2008