Alright, so I know that you are probably going to think I’m crazy for suggesting you do an internship during your time abroad. I mean, isn’t this supposed to be the time when you take easy classes, travel, and just generally party it up?? Well sure, that’s all part of the experience. But I believe you can do all of that and gain valuable experience working in a foreign country at the same time. Better yet, I’ve done it! I want to share my story with you today in hopes that you too will consider the enriching experience of completing an internship while you are studying abroad.
I came across my internship sort of by accident. A friend of mine who was also studying International Business had discovered RelevanSi via one of their online searches for interns several months before and had done some work for them virtually in the past. When she heard that I would be studying in Buenos Aires, she recommended I contact them about a possible internship. My curiosity was piqued when I looked them up and discovered that they are a startup company that provides online marketing and programming services to green businesses and NGOs. This combination of marketing, a startup company and the green movement seemed right up my alley, so I sent them an email with my resume and expressed my interest in doing an internship during my time in Buenos Aires.
After a series of emails and a Skype interview I was hired! We agreed to a minimum of 15 hours a week of work for a minimum of 3 months. They gave me the option to complete the internship for school credit, but seeing as it didn’t really fit any of my open credits, I decided to just complete it for the experience. My first day was the week after I arrived in Buenos Aires, and I’ve been there ever since!
At the RelevanSi Office
I had the good fortune to be placed with a host family that lives a 15-minute walk away from the office, so I walk to work every morning and spend 3 or 4 hours there before walking and taking the subway to school in Belgrano (another part of the city) for my classes in the afternoon. I get home from classes at 5:30 Monday-Thursday, with plenty of time to do my homework and relax or go out with friends. Friday I work until noon and then I have the rest of my weekend to explore the city or travel.
Because of my interest in social media, blogging, and PR, I opted for a PR (rather than a marketing) internship, which has allowed me to really delve into all of these areas. In addition to working in social media (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn), I have written for the company blog, written articles and interview responses for other sites, and even written and acted in an article/video project describing the process of working with RelevanSi! Now that I am in my last weeks at the company, I am busy putting the finishing touches on a PR Internship Manual, organizing the PR department’s Wiki server, and training some of the great new PR interns to take my place when I’m gone.
As a side-note: all of our work is done in English (since most of RelevanSi’s clients are from the US) but because of the international nature of the company and their employees, there are often up to 5 or more languages being spoken in the office at any given time.
Although taking on this internship has been a big commitment, it has also been one of the most rewarding experiences of my time in Buenos Aires. I absolutely love the people I’ve met, and I’ve learned so much from working in an international company in a field that interests me. They have consistently challenged me to learn, grow, and do my best work, while also being flexible enough with my schedule to allow me to travel and enjoy the beautiful country of Argentina.
Everyone wants something different from studying abroad, and no one can tell you whether doing an internship is or isn’t right for you. I can only go from my experience - which has been incredibly positive -when I tell you that I would highly recommend looking into it as an option. However, I also want to caution you not to take on more than you will be able to handle. If you know yourself and you will only end up regretting the commitment, or worse yet, not fulfilling it, then an internship abroad is not for you. However, if you are curious about working in other countries or just want to continue learning and gaining work experience, then this could be the perfect opportunity for you to expand your horizons even further.
Tips on Finding Internships Abroad
Although a service can be a great way to find an internship abroad (see below for some recommendations), I would highly recommend that you look into it yourself as well. You will be surprised what you can find if you try. Here are a couple of tips to get you started:
ü Email friends and family that know people in the country where you’ll be studying. Ask them if they know of any companies or non-profits that hire (or would consider hiring) international interns
ü Check Craig’s List and do searches online for companies that may have placed ads or write-ups about looking for interns – be sure to check these companies out thoroughly before making any sort of commitments though! Use common sense to avoid scams.
ü Tailor your resume to match the kind of position you will be applying for. Include any relevant work experience, language capabilities, etc. Draft a nice introductory email and attach your resume whenever you reach out to contact an organization about a position.
This is the program another intern went through to find RelevanSi. It is one of countless programs of its kind. This one offers placements in South Africa and Argentina.
Know of any good internship placement programs you think I should feature here? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the info and I’ll look into them!