How to Secure a Paid Internship While Studying Abroad

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Jobs

Securing a paid internship is one of the best things you can do to launch your career. A paid internship can significantly boost your first salary—by as much as $3,000 according to a 2022 study from Strada Education Network. 

Another study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that students with at least one paid internship made $15,000 – $20,000 more in their starting salary than those with no internship experience.

While earning some money helps, a paid internship can also boost your confidence in your skills. Being paid for your work makes you feel valued and motivates you to give your best. That might explain why paid internships are 52% more likely to result in full-time employment compared to unpaid internships. 

However, finding a paid internship isn’t easy—such positions are highly competitive. Here are some tips to help you find the paid internship of your dreams while studying abroad.

Tip #1- Know What You Are Looking For

The first step to finding a paid internship is defining exactly what you are looking for. What are your career goals? Which skills do you want to build? Ponder on these questions to define the kind of internship you’re looking for. 

Next, make a list of companies that you’d like to work for to build your skills. Check whether these companies have advertised internship positions. Alternatively, connect with department heads in these organizations on LinkedIn and request them for information on internship opportunities. 

When you’re invited for an interview, make sure to inquire whether you’ll receive an internship stipend. 

Tip #2- Reach Out to Your University’s Alumni Network

Reaching out to your university’s alumni network is a good place to start your search for a paid internship. The good thing about alumni is that they were once where you are—and fully understand your situation.

Your university’s alumni  are now working professionals in various industries. They could even be in hiring or management positions. Reaching out to such individuals will be a great way to find a paid internship.

The alumni office in your university can be of great help. Ask them to connect you with relevant alumni for your internship search.  Be sure to attend alumni career talks organized by your university for a chance to connect with members more organically. 

Once you’ve established a connection, don’t be shy about asking for leads to paid internship positions. 

Tip #3- Consult Your Lecturers and Professors

Your professors are uniquely placed to connect you with industry experts or opportunities. All you need to do is ask. 

While they may not link you directly to opportunities that you are looking for, they most certainly can connect you to someone who can. 

Keep in touch with your lecturers or professors even after you graduate. You never know where they will come in handy in connecting you to the opportunity that you are looking for.

Tip #4- Take Full Advantage of College Career Fairs

Many universities organize career fairs to help their students to connect with companies for entry-level jobs and internships. 

Make the most of these opportunities. Research the organizations that will be participating beforehand and prepare an elevator pitch. It’s also advisable to print out at least 10 copies of your resume to hand out to prospective employers. 

After the fair, be sure to follow up and strengthen the connections you made. Make further inquiries about paid internship opportunities. 

Tip #5- Ask your University Career Services for Help

Universities have a career services office designed to help students launch their professional careers. They can offer support with writing resumes and cover letters, preparing for interviews, connecting with alumni and industry professionals, and even connecting students to paid internships and entry-level jobs. 

Make the most of your college’s career services. If you’re aiming for a paid internship position, ask to be connected to such opportunities. Additionally, find out what resources are available to you from the university career services office and take full advantage of them.

Bonus Tip – Look for a Paid Internship Outside Your Industry

Some industries are more likely to offer paid internships than others. If getting paid matters more to you at this point in time than getting specific work experience, consider interning in another industry. You’ll still acquire transferable skills to help you launch your career. 


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