As the workplace becomes more global — and more emphasis is placed on intercultural communication — setting yourself apart in the job market is more important than ever. While study abroad is an incredible way to heighten any résumé, a service learning or internship placement abroad takes these invaluable skills to an entirely new level.
Engage with the culture on another level
An internship or service learning placement will allow you to immerse into your chosen destination outside of the classroom. Internships provide a real-life, international perspective into the business and market of your chosen destination, expanding your perspective of a global marketplace.
In a service learning placement, you’ll have the opportunity to serve underprivileged populations. This allows you to communicate with local people you may not otherwise interact with. The critical thinking skills and empathy toward others gained during service learning are unlike those gained from any other experience.
Written and spoken language skill in language of choice
Speaking another language continues to be a valued skill in our culture, both within the job market and otherwise. An internship or service learning placement allows you to practice your language of choice, whether you have attained fluency or are beginning a new language from scratch, in a setting where you are surrounded with fluent speakers of the language. Not only will this allow you to expand their language skill at an exponentially faster rate, but you’ll also incorporate more real life vocabulary into your speech and written language.
Networking opportunities within the profession
All internships afford you the invaluable opportunity to connect with experienced professionals within their field. An internship abroad, however, gives you the chance to build international relationships and a potential offer of employment from your internship placement.In addition, both service learning and internship supervisors will likely be ideal sources for letters of recommendation.
Supported in seminars by on-site staff
Seminars hosted by on-site staff in many internship and service learning sites, held in conjunction with the placements, allow you to process your day-to-day experiences in a safe and supported environment. This helps you to process your internship or service learning program more effectively and transition back into life in the United States with ease.
Whether you choose a service learning or international internship placement, the skills you gain — hands-on work experience, cultural engagement, interaction with locals, language learning, and an expanded professional network — will both boost your résumé and enhance your time abroad.
Olivia Del Viscio is an Admissions Councelor at CEA Study Abroad, an organization that helps students spend a semester, a summer, or an academic year studying abroad in 12 countries. Where will your learning take you?