Often, college students find themselves trying to balance personal, professional, and academic activities to create a fulfilling and well-rounded college experience. When it comes to outside enrichment opportunities, students frequently contemplate whether they should study abroad or participate in an internship. Are you weighing the pros and cons of each option? Keep reading!
When it comes to the study abroad versus internship debate, there are many different opinions to consider when deciding what is best for your personal growth, academics, and professional career. The benefits of studying abroad include personal development, a more worldly perspective, and sometimes, understanding a new language, all of which are attractive to employers. Yet, internships and job experience are notoriously becoming a requirement from employers everywhere. So, should you dedicate a chunk of your academic career to international education or settle into a career-benefiting internship?
USAC’s Solution: Participate in an International Internship
That’s right! Thousands of our students have taken advantage of USAC’s unique programs that allow students to continue earning college credit while also having a professional internship that prepares them for the “real world.”
Since 1982, students have taken advantage of USAC’s study abroad programs with most offering internships as an optional add-on. More than 20 USAC program locations allow students to earn college credit while also participating in a professional internship that prepares them for the “real world,” all while living and immersing in a new culture.
While it may seem intimidating to conduct a part-time internship while also studying abroad, our programs are designed to give you an enriching and rewarding experience while also maintaining a very manageable workload. Here’s what Megan had to say about her internship experience with Nectandra Institute in San Ramón, Costa Rica:
“My experience at Nectandra Institute was much different than any other internship I have had. Working with Nectandra increased my Spanish vocabulary knowledge and elevated my speaking skills. In addition, this experience not only led me to create great connections with the knowledgeable leaders of an amazing non-profit organization but also with passionate members of local committees interested in helping with reforestation and land preservation, as well as local farmers working with the institute. Overall, this experience greatly contributed to my understanding of sustainability in the tropics and truly rounded out my undergraduate academic experience.“
Intrigued? By studying abroad with USAC, you’ll have the chance to take part in a wide variety of internships. Keep in mind that while some our internships do require proficiency in another language, many of our internships are fully conducted in English and don’t require any previous work or internship experience. Keep reading to learn about the variety of internships offered.
The Two Types of USAC Internships
The on-site internship option is USAC’s most common choice for students seeking internships abroad. These three-credit internships offer hands-on experience in the field, and country, of your choice. On-site internships are perfect for students wanting to live, travel, and earn academic credit while also developing their professional skills and subsequently, boosting their resumes. With an on-site internship, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from four options.
- General Skills Based Internships: This style of our on-site internships is perfect for students who want to receive a broad set of entry-level skills that will help them gain clarity about what they enjoy doing in a particular field, strengthen their intercultural communication abilities, while also making them attractive to potential employers. This option does not require prior knowledge or skills in a particular field, making it ideal for students who want to get their feet wet in a potential career field.
- Discipline-Specific Internships: This option is perfect for students who know the field they want to enter. With a discipline-specific internship, students will dive deep into their chosen field, develop a strong set of industry knowledge, and gain job-specific skills through their applied practice. These internships are more competitive and often require great GPA standing, specialized skills or academic training, and (sometimes) proficiency in another language.
- Research Internships: Tailored to students in the STEM field or other research-based fields. Students without prior lab or research experience can secure an entry-level internship that provides mentorship and supervision that introduces students to the essential practices of research theory. Students with prior research and lab experience are eligible for our advanced placement options. Our advanced placement internships still provide supervision and mentorship, but they also give the intern more autonomy and responsibility for their work. The advanced placement internships are both competitive and limited, and therefore, will have higher GPA requirements, specialized skills/academic training, and (sometimes) proficiency in another language.
- Volunteer Internships and Community Service (Non-Credit): While these types of internships may not be accredited or give students career specific skills, they do still provide students with a life-changing experience. Students will have the opportunity to engage with the local community, develop intercultural communication and language skills, and enhance their overall study abroad experience. There are also no prerequisites for this type of internship.
Global Perspectives Virtual Internships
Our Global Perspectives Program offers virtual internships that give students the opportunity to gain all the benefits of working for an international company with the convenience of working remotely. This internship is best suited for students who want to develop a strong set of professional skills but may not be able to commit to international travel (but you can absolutely participate in a virtual internship while abroad!). Alumni of our Global Perspectives internships have gained job-ready skills that have prepared them for jobs in a variety of fields. Here’s what our alumni Tyler had to say about his experience:
“My virtual internship with USAC gave me the skills and confidence I needed to enter the digital marketing career field. After completing the internship, I found a job in the field of digital marketing, and I’ve never felt more excited or confident about my professional career!”
Internships For Every Student
By this point, you’re probably wondering if we offer an internship opportunity for your major or industry of choice. Yes, we do! USAC-arranged opportunities are available on the majority of USAC Specialty Programs in a wide range of fields, including:
- Digital marketing and social media management
- English language instruction
- Health and wellness
- Human resources
- Social welfare and social services
… and more!
Not enrolling in a Specialty Program? That’s okay! Internships arranged by the host university are also offered on the following Partnership Programs:
- Australia: Melbourne, Geelong and Warrnambool
- Australia: Gold Coast and Brisbane
- England: London
- Israel: Haifa
- Japan: Hiroshima
- New Zealand: Auckland, Palmerston North, Hawke’s Bay, and Wellington
Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity to allows students to develop their confidence, improve their adaptability, and enrich their education. Internships give students the chance to build relevant job skills, improve their employability, and explore a particular career path. At USAC, we have built connections with NGOs and businesses all around the world in order to help you build the foundation for a rewarding and successful career.