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My Global Internship: where to start and how to find one

By Skye A Aitken, on 14 November 2019

Written by Rhiannon Williams, Global Internships Manager at UCL Careers.

Student on an internship stood by a river holding a camera and smilingWelcome to the second blog in our ‘My Global Internship’ series. Last week we learnt about global mindset and now we’re going to talk about how you can find an international internship, what you should think about when searching and places you can look to get you started.

Did you know students who go abroad during their studies are more likely to gain a 1st degree and be in graduate-level jobs six months after graduation? They’re also likely to have a fantastic time and build their confidence, so it’s a win-win all round! If you haven’t thought about going overseas before, perhaps because you don’t even know where to start, then we’re here to help you.

Before you start

Before you start actually finding specific roles to look at, you should think about the following things:

  1. What sort of work do you want to do and what are you aiming to get out of the whole experience?Are you looking to travel and explore a new culture (and thus open to all opportunities) or do you want to do a particular role related to your degree or career objectives? Perhaps you want to work in a large corporate environment or you want to try a smaller company or start-up where you may get more responsibility?
  2. Where do you want to go?Have you got a particular city, country or continent in mind? This may depend on your answer to question 1 as there might be particular countries or regions that are better suited to the work you’d like to do. Write down all the places you’re keen to consider – it’s worth drilling down to city-level as the experience can differ within country.
  3. How feasible is it to work in a particular area or country?You will need to think about travel and accommodation, and find out if you need a visa. Also, do you need to be able to speak the local language? Some countries are more accessible for English speakers than others, so if you don’t have a second language then perhaps start with these (but remember that the business language in some countries not on this map might still be English).
  4. What is the environment / culture like and how will you adapt to this?Whilst this is something you will prepare for once you’ve already secured an internship, it is a good idea to also research this early on because it may help when making applications.

All of the above will take both some thinking on your part, but also some research. A great place to start is the GoinGlobal website. Access this site via the Working Outside of the UK page on the UCL Careers website. You can also use the working abroad pages on TargetJobs and Prospects to help you. Make a note of your answers to the above – they might change over time as you explore new places, and that’s absolutely fine!

Looking for opportunities

Three students sat on a sofa working on laptopsAfter you’ve done a bit of thinking, next up is to starting looking for opportunities. Finding an international internship in a country you have limited experience with requires you to be proactive, but the rewards will be worth it. Here’s some places to start:

  • myUCLCareers jobs board – click on the Search tab > Vacancies and use the locations or country filter on the left to narrow down the options.
  • LinkedIn can be a valuable tool to help you find companies or contacts in countries that are of interest to you. Use the locations filter on the search function to target a particular country, or search via industry if you know what sector you want to work in.
  • General job boards such as Indeed, Reed and Google all have options to search by country and industry. org is a great platform for finding opportunities in specifically in Europe.
  • Local job boards can also be a great way to find opportunities, particularly from smaller organisations focusing on targeting local students. Search ‘job boards in x country’ to see what is recommended. For example, Welcome to the Jungle is a popular job platform in France for students to find opportunities in French SMEs.
  • Directories are a great way to help you find companies that you might be interested in working in, particularly ones you haven’t heard of yet! Sites like co allow you to search for companies by sector or location and provide general company information as well as links to jobs. If the company doesn’t have any jobs listed, there’s no harm in applying speculatively – we’ll cover this in the next blog!
  • Direct application to an organisation – this is the DIY route to finding an internship abroad. Take a look at the Careers Essentials module on guides on job huntingto help you with various stages of the job hunting process, whether at home or overseas.

So, open your laptop and start a spreadsheet – this will help you to keep track of websites you’ve explored, information you’ve found out and log some companies that you’re interested in applying to. Who knows what you might find and where you might end up going! Next time we will drill down into how to make an application, focusing on important things to consider when applying for overseas roles.

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