INTERNING ABROAD: Loyola students gain practical work experience by interning abroad
Today's college students are not only in competition with each other when looking for jobs after graduation, but also in competition with experienced workers who are having to apply for entry level jobs. In order to get that coveted job after college, students need a competitive edge. For many students, an internship abroad that enhances a resume and prepares them for an increasingly globalized world is that edge.
Alisa Townes, interned abroad in Spring 2012 in Seville, Spain, at a language teaching company in the area of marketing and outreach. The internship experience taught her valuable skills that she would not have gained in other learning environments. “There’s a difference between what you learn on the streets and what you learn in the office. The experience of interning abroad offered an entirely different perspective on the culture that I would not have had otherwise.” For Townes, the greatest benefits of interning abroad were the opportunities to develop cultural awareness and Spanish language skills, but she also developed critical personal qualities including resourcefulness, adaptability, assertiveness, and self-confidence, all very marketable skills.
Christian Edlagan, is currently abroad in Brussels, Belgium and interning for a network of 150 organizations that lobbies on behalf of senior citizens in the European Union. Edlagan describes his internship placement as both “overwhelming” and “empowering.” “[It’s] an experience few undergraduate American students, or even European ones for that matter, get to have.” Edlagan has participated in roundtable discussions with heads of important NGOs, groups that lobby the EU, and representatives of the European Directorate-General for Justice for the European Commission.
“Looking back just one year ago, I never thought following my feet would lead me to a fulfilling advocacy internship in the heart of the European Union. But I can see now where my dots connected: leaving the big-city comforts and bubble that is New York City, pursuing my interest in international relations and politics in New Orleans, and taking the leap of faith that is study abroad to go to Belgium.”
Aside from the obvious benefits of living and working in a foreign country, interning abroad offers a way for students to stand out from the crowd and develop skills such as adaptability, flexibility, the ability to solve problems, and view things from different perspectives and interact with different kinds of people. While in Spain, Townes learned important differences about “the way business is done” in the U.S. and abroad. “In the U.S. there is a clear line between one’s business and personal life,” she says, “but in Spain the line is a little more blurred.” The experience of working in a Spanish business environment taught Townes about key differences in business cultures around the world.
Loyola students have the opportunity to intern abroad during the summer, semester, or for a full academic year. Internship placements typically take the place of one or two courses abroad and are awarded between three and six academic credits. Placements are available in all academic areas: businesss, communications, music, psychology, social work, science and more. Programs are available in over 20 countries, several of which offer placements in English. For more information about internship oppotunities for your major, make an appointment with a study abroad advisor.
The Career Development Center also offers Going Global, an online resource that helps students explore career opportunities around the globe. Learn about jobs and industries in various countries, and discover the steps to pursuing international career options. Preparation before beginning a domestic or international internship search is the key to being successful. The Career Development Center offers workshops and handouts on many of these topics, and your career coach is available to work directly with you during your preparation. Contact the Career Development Center at 504.865.3860 to make an appointment with your career coach.