Technology has made the world smaller—from the speed of social media to being able to hop on a plane and land on the other side of the earth in less than a day’s time, having global experience can be a major plus as you transition from undergrad to the real world. Spruce up your resume with experience abroad to show that you’re able to adapt and be independent in new cultures. Get those college credits and passport stamps! I taught English in Peru, did community development work in Ghana, and conducted research in Thailand all on my university’s dime when I was an undergrad at Cornell. Read on for tips and tricks to finding jobs and internships abroad as an undergraduate.
Drippin’ in finesse
Most every college or university will have career services centers, in addition to an office that handles study abroad. If getting experience working abroad is a priority for you while in undergrad, you should check in with your school’s informational centers and tell them what you’re interested in, where you might like to go, and what you hope to gain from any international experience. Remember, their job is to be aware of opportunities that would be a great fit for you, so don’t be shy in letting them know what you’d like!
Each college or university is different, but usually public service centers, offices of engagement, offices of diversity initiatives, career services, and study abroad centers will have the most information on international opportunities. They may also have funding they can throw your way to decrease or ameliorate any out-of-pocket costs all together. If you make yourself really valuable and have a strong relationship with a professor who does international research, you may even be able to tag along with them on fieldwork or participate in a formal international program they offer that is rooted in their work.
Their job is to be aware of opportunities that would be a great fit for you, so don’t be shy in letting them know what you’d like!
My relationships with staff in Cornell’s Public Service Center led to my participation in a monthlong community-based research project in Bangkok, Thailand, where I worked in the community to learn more about how Thai people understand their government’s response to flooding. The best part (besides the travel and experience with those I worked with)—it was free!
What your school won’t do, Google will
No luck finding info from your school? Then you’ll have to DIY it with Google. You’ll want to look for the same types of opportunities but in a more targeted way. Is there a domestic company you love? Find their international counterpart or competitor and apply to any job or internship postings they have available. Not picky about what industry you work in? Get on LinkedIn and look up general opportunities in a city or country that interests you. Hop on Twitter and see what thought leaders in the space you’re interested in are talking about and hit that “follow” button because they’re also often posting opportunities. Even if you’re not going through your school, you may be able to receive school credit—it doesn’t hurt to ask.
My favorite Google terms for this are: internship abroad, work abroad, leave the US, international service-learning, and teaching English abroad. While I always got my opportunities through Cornell, I have come across some job opportunities to teach English in Spain or do monitoring and evaluation in England that I’m planning to apply for as a recent grad looking for full-time work.
Get your fellowship on
This will often be facilitated through your college or university, but you also could just stumble across an interesting one through your Googling. The Fulbright, Luce, Marshall, Rangel, and Payne fellowships all require international engagement. Apply to the Peace Corps, which awards its own post-grad fellowships, and the many other international volunteer organizations that will give you invaluable experience living and engaging abroad. Use websites like ProFellow to find out about international opportunities and get tips and tricks for strengthening your application.
I applied to Fulbright my junior year at Cornell and made it to the semi-finalist round, only to not be awarded the grant because the university I was applying to abroad canceled the degree program I was interested in. So, if you go that route, make sure your plan is as foolproof as possible, because there’s nothing worse than thinking you’re on your way to a life abroad only for things to not pan out that way.
These are just a few ways you can start your search for an international job or internship during your undergraduate career! Going abroad can be scary, but remember that the experience you’re gaining will only set you up for success in your future career because a global perspective continues to be everything.