In a world where job competition is fierce and you need heaps of experience in order to get experience, internships are the answer. If you’re done school or in the midst of it and looking for some way to work in your field, doing internships abroad could be a game changer! Not only is this a great way to travel and explore a new place but it will be a killer addition to your resume when you get home. The only problem I have with internships are finding them! Sure, there are organizations you can pay to set you up with internships abroad but they probably won’t be exactly what you’re looking for and why should you pay to work?! Keep reading for the 11 best ways to finding paid internships abroad!
NOTE: Keep in mind that if you find an internship abroad you will need to do research on working rights in other countries, obtaining visas etc *
It never hurts to get started ahead of time. Apply to different internships for about a month or two before you plan on leaving so that you can get a head start on new internships that are popping up. With all forms of technology at our fingertips it’s a breeze to do a phone or video interview and get the ball rolling ASAP.
I did that with my first internship abroad in Australia and I was able to start immediately from home since it was a copywriting job and everything could be done online!
2. Create a portfolio/blog
Depending on the field you’re looking to get into, you’ll most likely want to have a portfolio with examples of your work! Feel free to check out my portfolio (www.amyrae.ca) to see how I was able to present my work and get internships. I created mine on WordPress and ended up paying a small fee for the ‘personal account’ so it doesn’t have wordpress.com in the URL and ends with .ca (which I think looks more professional). Don’t worry about making anything too fancy in the beginning. While you definitely want something that is aesthetically pleasing if you’re in graphic design for example, you shouldn’t stress about making it perfect and just make sure you have the relevant work info on there!
If you’re in the field of writing like myself, you may want to start a blog. This is just another way to demonstrate your work and show what you’re passionate about. I started this travel blog many years ago and only recently revamped it to properly express my work!
3. Look up local job boards
While LinkedIn is a great place to search for jobs, it may not be the best place to find internships. When looking for a paid internship I started with a simple Google search such as “paid writing internships Melbourne, Australia”.
From there I saw what was coming up and besides the standard job search engines such as Indeed, I also stumbled upon sites that were more tailored to what I was looking for. The best one I came across for creative fields was Pedestrian TV jobs and I actually scored 3 internships through that site!
4. Cater everything
When you apply to internships, you should be applying to them as if they’re a full time job. That means making sure your application, resume and cover letter all stand out among a crowd! Tailor each application to the company you’re applying for to show them how interested you really are. You’ll have a much better chance of hearing back from a company that can tell you put time and effort into the application process.
5. What do YOU bring to the organization?
This should be clear in your application process but it’s also very important for interviews. Make it known that you are there to help the organization and not the other way around! They know that interning for them will take your career to new heights and present you with many opportunities so YOU need to tell them what makes you special and an addition to their team.
Think about what unique skills or attributes you have that the next applicant won’t. Go above and beyond to demonstrate ways in which you will help with their marketing, increase sales, etc.
6. Look the part
It’s no secret that first impressions count, so make sure you look the part when you first meet with a potential employer. This can definitely be tricky though when you move to a new place with a backpack or suitcase so you’ll probably have to pick up some new clothes once you arrive.
How formal or casual you dress definitely varies from one job to the next but you should have a pretty good idea beforehand if it’s formal business attire, business-casual or even more relaxed. When it comes to work I always dress a little more formal than I think will be acceptable as a rule of thumb and then alter my outfits from then on. So pick out a few pieces for some interviews and once you land the position you can grab some more items!
7. Be prepared
Once you make a first good impression, you’ve only just begun. If you’re serious about finding paid internships abroad, you’ll need to be prepared for any interview.
By this I mean doing your research on the company, so that you know exactly what skills they’re looking for! If you don’t have everything on the list, make sure you have other points you can speak to about yourself and why you’d be the best addition to the team. You can always use being from another country to your advantage as you can provide a unique and worldly experience that other applicants won’t have! Utilizing this factor can really help you find paid internships abroad.
8. Fake it till you make it
Although you can prepare ahead of time for a phone or in person interview, you may be caught off guard. Confidence goes a long way and if you go into it not too stressed about the outcome and knowing what you bring to the table, you shouldn’t find yourself having too hard of a time!
This may not come easily at first but a great way to get comfortable and more confident is by going to more interviews and getting the practice you need. Don’t be too bummed if you fail a few times along the way and try to look at it as perfecting the skill of interviewing – you’ll get there eventually.
9. Be open to unpaid positions
I think I can speak for many when I say that finding paid internships abroad on your own comes with many challenges. You may have to bite the bullet and take an unpaid internship to start if you have little or no previous experience.
While this isn’t the most ideal, if you make the most of it and market yourself properly, it can snowball into other paid opportunities down the line! This happened to me when I started an unpaid internship and once it ended (3 months later) started getting offers for paid positions. Most unpaid internships and internships in general are only a few days a week anyway so you’ll have other opportunities to work for money!
9. Make connections
As cliche as it is, you never know who you’re going to meet so be open about the work you’re looking for and where your passions lie. If you’re already living abroad, you’ve probably started making friends, so go out with them and meet new people!
Eventually you’ll probably run into someone who’s doing what you want to do or knows someone in your field and things will fall into place.
10. Apply to jobs you’re slightly under qualified for
I wouldn’t waste too much time applying to jobs you’re not qualified for but if you stumble upon an entry level position that seems to match up with your interests quite well, go for it! You may be lacking some experience but if you have the passion and demonstrate that in your application, you still have a shot.
For example, I applied to a copywriting position when I was living in Australia that I was slightly under qualified for. I ended up getting an interview and because they liked me, they ended up creating a paid internship position for me instead of the original position I applied for! As you can see from the pictures above I had a pretty amazing view at lunch and a cute pup at work every day so I think it worked out just fine.
11. Persistence & determination
Finding a paid internship may take longer than you had hoped but don’t give up. Instead just apply to more places — I’m talking 50 + applications! While that may sound like overkill, you’ll probably only hear back from a few places so it’s best to go hard and apply to more! Don’t give up if you aren’t hearing back and keep going because you’ll eventually get one.
One last thing ..
So that concludes the 11 ways to finding paid internships abroad on your own! I know how tough it can be to find this type of work abroad so If you’re still having trouble finding an internship or have questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram.