Firsthand Accounts of the Benefits of International Internships

by Sydney Kahl / Mar 19, 2013 / 0 comments

I discovered a great place to learn about jobs: the career services bulletin board at John Cabot University (JCU), an American University in Rome. Probably any American University in another country would have something similar. There were notices about paid and unpaid internships, testimonials from students who had participated in internships, and advertisements for writing resumes and cover letters to promote one’s international travel study experiences.  The JCU library also has helpful books such as the 14th edition of Work Your Way Around The World by Susan Griffith.


Finding Internships Abroad


One advertisement on the bulletin board looked particularly inviting, called “Internship with ‘Key to Rome,’ Calling all marketing and communications majors! Key to Rome is looking to launch a new edition of their guidebook of Rome. Interns will be assisting with this process- researching restaurants, monuments, and much more!” The text was surrounded by photos of sites in Rome. Who wouldn’t want to do this? This is an unpaid internship, but maybe the interns get to eat at restaurants or visit monuments for free? At least it sounds like you’d be on the move as an intern.


Reading testimonials from JCU students was great for learning about different types of internships, how students obtain internships, what’s required, and how students feel they benefit. One testimonial offered by a student who interned for the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs said, “Having… been involved in the organization of lecture events, I believe that I now have a much greater interest in attending them and a greater appreciation for academic conferences in general… This internship has certainly strengthened my organizational and communication skills.” Another testimonial is from a student from Kosovo who contacted her Ministry of Internal Affairs for her country asking about internship possibilities and she arranged one with the Legal Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kosovo. She pointed out for anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps that knowing three languages was important- Albanian, Serbian, and English. As she reported, “I was able to observe the legislation process from beginning to end…It was fascinating to watch the formulation of such legislation. Because Kosovo is in its beginning stage as an independent country, its justice system is still flawed and in need of improvement. Observing the experts working within the Legal Department trying to eliminate any flaws was an unforgettable experience.” It never occurred to me how having students at an international university share about internships teaches others about many things, not just about the host country.


As someone potentially interested in journalism, I was most interested in a notice on the career services bulletin board for a “Part-time Editorial Internship with ‘Where Is Rome,’ a monthly city guide-magazine for English-speaking visitors.” The description said, “Participate in every step of magazine production from editorial planning to the final cuts and corrections before it goes to print.” One of the requirements also caught my attention, “Outgoing and dynamic team-worker with an editor’s eye and a creative flair.” Candidates had to undergo a language and then editing test before “accessing a formal interview.”


Reading about advertised internships is helpful and encouraging, but also makes one think of the possibilities for creating one’s own internship. Why not design your own? In the Introduction to the book, Work Your Way Around The World, the author states, “you will have to create your own luck at times.” The author tells stories of “wandering workers” who “displayed remarkable initiative” and took positive action.  As one person cited in the book says, his “persistence and pestering employers for jobs” while travelling helped him later, but giving him skills of perseverance. The chapter ends by stating, “If travelling requires a much greater investment of energy than staying home, it will reward the effort many time over.” So, thinking and learning about jobs abroad while travelling abroad opens my eyes to future possibilities of working abroad later in life. It’s not too soon to start planning and exploring different ways to work in the world.





Sydney Kahl is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.


Photo courtesy and copyright Sydney Kahl