You’ve finally handed in that last piece of coursework, those end of term exams are fast approaching (if not already in full swing), and despite promising yourself for the whole year that you’d never do it, you’ve actually waited outside the university library at 7am for the doors to open so you can get the good seat. I’ve been there.
The light at the end of the tunnel might seem as far away as it’ll ever be right now, but before long, it’s all over and you’re left with three months of freedom, a headful of ambition but there’s a good chance you’re still asking yourself the question: What am I going to do with my summer, and how am I going to make it worthwhile? Join your parents for that walking tour of the Pennines? Finally sit down and read all that George Orwell and Emily Bronte that you’ve been meaning to read for the last two years? An internship abroad? (hint hint – it’s the last one!)
So here they are: the six killer reasons why a summer internship abroad is a great way to combine travel with training for the professional world! In short – a solid investment in your future and a fantastic opportunity to make lasting memories!
1 – Gain hands-on experience in the workplace
Joining a company as an intern is a great way to learn how businesses and organisations work in the real world, and not just on paper. This is especially the case for start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses, where you get the chance to see first-hand how businesses grow and transition into larger and more mature entreprises. Far from fetching the coffee and making photocopies, interns play a vital role in keeping the cogs of a business turning and if they excel in their position, can have a real impact on the direction of their host company!
2 – Immerse yourself in another culture
More so than if you were simply passing through as a traveller, interns in a country like China have the time to truly immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about what it means to be a citizen of another society. Because you’ll be working alongside them and sharing your day-to-day life with them, you will learn to eat, drink, work and play like a local. There’s no better way to smash your stereotypes about a country than to go there in person and share a hearty cup of baijiu with your coworkers who have lived there their whole lives!
3 – Prepare yourself for a truly globalised world
Interning in a country like China can prepare you in so many ways for the world of the future – you will gain vital work experience, learn how business is conducted in a country that is rapidly becoming the main trade partner of every other country in the world, learn to adapt to quickly changing working environments and function as part of an international team. Moreover, the skills you acquire during your experience interning abroad will make you stand out among your peers and will boost your future employability to no end!
4 – Help to define your career path
You may find that undertaking a summer internship helps you to discover that hidden specialism you never realised you loved! The flexibility of many internships means that you get a chance to try out the various different areas of specialism in one field of work. For example, you could well find that social media marketing really isn’t your jam, but at the same time you discover that you secretly had a burning passion for events management that you would never have known of unless you tried it out during your internship! You will also make countless contacts in your field of internship that could later prove to be a lucrative entry-point into the career path of your dreams!
5 – Learn a new language
It might seem like an intimidating (or nearly impossible!) feat to accomplish in one short summer, but an internship abroad is completely packed with chances for you to learn the basics of the language of your host country! Aside from the option to attend language classes, your coworkers will no doubt be more than happy to teach you some useful phrases to help you get by (or at least the more useful insults), and the value of being able to communicate to colleagues and business partners in their mother tongue cannot be overstated enough!
6 – Come back with some great stories
Last, and certainly not least, completing a summer internship in a country such as China can be a challenging, bewildering, bemusing, enriching and mind-boggling experience all at the same time! You will be interning alongside people from all around the globe with different experiences, backgrounds and perspectives on the world, which makes for a pretty unique summer. You may have to tackle culture shock head-on, but you will no doubt board your plane home with a suitcase full to the brim with lasting memories, heartfelt friendships, and maybe even a cuddly panda keyring stuffed in the bottom.