Spring semester of 2017 I had the opportunity to study and intern abroad in London. While I have traveled abroad in the past and have dealt with the various challenges that come with that, interning abroad brought on a whole new set of challenges. However, living in a different country for four months gave me enough time to stumble, regain my footing and of course stumble again, and I’m not just talking about my experience riding the Tube. Here’s what I experienced interning abroad and how these experiences can be valuable to employers.
1. Display’s your adaptability
Interning abroad in London required me to work outside my comfort zone. Although English was the main language in the UK, I still encountered practices and customs in the workplace and in my daily life that were different to that of the U.S. Some of these differences included certain British phrases, the British mailing system, bank holidays, and learning about British companies. After a lot of repetition and questioning, I got used to the differences in week or two. Now I can communicate to employers that I was able to successfully adapt to my surroundings, work within those different environments and that I can fit into whatever new work opportunity comes my way.
2. Shows you’re willing to relocate
Now that I have an international internship listed on my resume, it communicates to employers that I’m willing to leave my hometown, my friends, and my family to work in a city I’m not entirely familiar with. This is very valuable to companies when choosing a candidate, because it shows I’m willing to be placed in any office they have.
3. You have international connections
Employers will know of the global connections that you made abroad either from recommendations or from LinkedIn. Not only has this expanded my network, it opens the door for employers from different parts of the world to take notice of me. This shows employers that I’m someone who can get along with people from different countries, backgrounds and ethnicities.
4. You’re independent
Nothing says independent more than moving to a new country. I’ve run into problems such as needing to find out which line to take on the Tube to get to my internship, how to ask for takeaway in Spanish and figuring out what exactly a queue is. Interning abroad will inevitably lead to sticky situations but our response to those situations are what foster the independence and problem solving skills that we’ll carry with us long after we’ve returned.
5. Proves you can balance your work life and your personal life
Many students choose to intern abroad so they can also travel, however it can be tricky to balance travel with work, trust me. I took 5 classes, interned, traveled on weekends and still managed to keep my grades up. While finding that balance wasn’t easy, I can tell employers that I successfully balanced my work life and my personal life abroad, so I’ll do a spectacular job balancing work and home life in the U.S.