Gap year international internships
An internship abroad is ideal if you want to gain valuable work experience outside the UK. You can get to know another country and culture, travel afterwards, and when you return home you’ll have great skills for your CV.
Internships in the EU
The EU is promoting business cooperation between its member countries, and you may be able to benefit from this by finding an internship in Europe. If you’re interested in politics and international affairs there are internships, known as traineeships, offered at EU institutions, mainly in Brussels but also in some major cities of its member states. A good starting point for your application is the European Commission website, or get in touch with your MEP.
The ERASMUS+ scheme supports initiatives that may provide internships throughout the EU. The scheme funds groups rather than individuals, but you may be able to find a suitable group with which to do your internship.
IMPORTANT: Following the UK’s referendum on EU membership, the EU’s Directorate General for Education and Culture states that there has been no change to British participation in its programmes as EU law currently still applies to the full in the UK.
The British Council runs a scheme known as Study, Work, Create, which offers internships in various countries. BUNAC runs some internships in countries including the USA, New Zealand and Australia. You pay BUNAC a fee to arrange it, and you need to look specifically for a paid internship.
If you are currently studying a subject related to science, technology, engineering, agriculture or the applied arts, the IAESTE scheme offers the opportunity to do internships in over 80 countries. You will usually get an allowance that will cover the cost of day-to-day living during your traineeship but be aware that you are likely to have to pay a fee, depending on which country you wish to work in.
Agencies that charge a fee to arrange international internships
If you’re prepared to pay a fee, some agencies will find you an internship abroad. Many are paid – you won’t necessarily earn much, but it should be more than your original payment.
AIESEC is an international student organisation that arranges traineeships in over 100 countries. It will match you to a company and arrange your work visa; you will have to pay for travel and insurance although these may be available at a discounted rate.
Using an agency can be a great way to find opportunities, particularly in a field where competition is fierce even for internships. You could get journalism experience working on a newspaper in La Paz or a music magazine in Bangalore.
Choose a volunteer project that provides experience relevant to your prospective career and get the best of both worlds – an internship and the satisfaction of supporting a worthwhile cause. If you want to work in the US, going through an agency may be the best way to get a work permit, as they are usually awarded only to people with a job offer.