It's no secret that interning in college boosts your chances of finding a job afterward. An internship in another country gives you even more of a competitive advantage.
For most university students, especially those in their last two years, finding a job is top of mind. By this point, undergraduates have chosen a major and understand what they excel at. They also watch upperclassmen enter the job market, whether successfully or not, and gauge what the experience will be like for them.
While the job market seems to be bouncing back, recent college graduates are having a tough time landing jobs. More than 4 out of 5 students graduate without a job. Furthermore, two-thirds of college graduates struggle to launch their careers well into their 20s.
There are many reasons for the lack of jobs for undergraduates. Many small and midsize businesses (SMBs) don't recruit on campuses, and some students don't take advantage of career services. Probably the biggest struggle is that employers want candidates with experience, but many recent graduates have none to offer. Enter the internship.
The competitive edge of an internship
Many students who start their careers right after college have had at least one internship, and students who complete more than one internship are more likely to secure a job.
Researchers at Mount Holyoke College analyzed the career outcomes of graduating classes (each roughly 1,800 students) in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Six months after graduating, students with GPAs of 3.75 or above who had completed multiple internships were more likely to find employment. In 2014, MHC began a universal internship program that offered students a minimum $3,000 stipend for unpaid internships and measured those results. The experiment found that the number of students who graduated with at least one internship rose, and so did their GPAs.
It's clear that students who participate in an internship are more likely to find work after graduation. What's interesting is the rise in international internships and its effect on the job hunt.
Cultural advantages of interning abroad
Interning abroad means immersion in a foreign language (for some), expanded global awareness and increased understanding of different cultures. For many employers, these skills are crucial in recent graduates. Here are just a few of the advantages.
Students who intern in a country that speaks a different language have a particular advantage if they take the opportunity to become fluent in that language. In addition to being more attractive to potential employers, those who know more than one language earn more on average. A foreign language has been named the hottest job skill in the past because of the increasing job opportunities for bilingual speakers.
Bilingualism offers other benefits as well. Studies suggest that students who study a second language are more creative, better problem-solvers and multitaskers, and more confident in their choices. Soft skills such as these are essential for recent graduates, who typically don't have many technical or hard skills to offer.
Language is not the only skill international internships provide. Students also gain more global cultural awareness, which is what many employees want in today's world. As more companies expand globally, it is likely they will seek recent graduates who understand cultural customs and sensitivities.
Standing out with an international internship
Forty percent of employers say lack of skills is the main reason for vacancies at the entry level, which is why internships are crucial during college. An international internship can provide various skills and opportunities to help graduates stand out among other candidates.
The Institute for the International Education of Students surveyed its own students who interned abroad and found that 84 percent said their experience abroad helped them build job skills, and 89 percent reported getting a job within six months of graduation.
Interning abroad can help with language skills, but it also boosts in-demand soft skills such as teamwork, multitasking, communication and problem-solving. Students who want to work globally should definitely consider an international internship to boost their resume. For those students who want to jump into the workforce right after graduation, a global internship can help them stand apart from the crowd.