26 Dec 4 Ways to Enhance Your Knowledge and Skills In Your Internship Abroad
A University Degree Is No Longer Enough
A university degree is your passport to success. It’s what all millennials were told since we were little kids. But as we grow older, we realize that a university degree does not guarantee anything, and it’s far from enough to build a successful career.
Practical knowledge and skills are the key factors at play. Your future employer will be more interested in your skills and international experience, rather than in your successful academic performance.
But here comes the first problem. Where will you get international experience and how can you put your skills into practice if you’re still a university student? Not every college has an innovation lab like Harvard, and not every higher education institution has agreements with companies to employ its students directly.
So, how do students get ahead and get their professional careers off to a flying start? An internship abroad!
Research on the Effectiveness of Internships
A study from the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition, conducted by a team at Mount Holyoke College, produced some very interesting results on the effectiveness of internships.
- Participation in multiple internships while in college helps a student secure employment after graduation.
- Graduates with internships have higher odds of finding a place of employment in the first six months after graduation.
- Participation in several internships also gives students higher chances of getting into a high-profile grad school.
Another study from the NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition, researching the implications of internships on early career outcomes has found that:
- Career outcomes data showed that 98% of graduates were able to find employment after participating in an internship.
- 53% of graduates reported that they obtained their current positions after an internship.
- Graduates who have completed full-time unpaid internships are just as likely to find a job position as those who have completed full-time paid internships.
Both studies have also interviewed different employers, who reiterated the significance of internships for a future career.
An internship abroad, according to them, is the best way to enhance and showcase an intern’s knowledge, while they can also develop and enhance new skills in an international environment, necessary for future employment.
So, what should you do to make the most of your internship, enhance your existing knowledge and learn something new Take a look!
1. Define Your Goals
To make the most out of your internship, you need to start by knowing what you want to achieve. In other words, you need to have a clear plan.
But before you start sweating over the list of skills you want to get, you need to research the company you’ll be the intern at. Make sure you tick off all the steps in the following checklist when researching the company:
- What industry the company operates in
- Who their target buyer is
- What industries is the company’s product oriented at
You need to understand that the company you will intern at also has limitations in terms of skills. Researching the company will help you define what skills the company values the most (both hard and soft) and, consequently, the skills that you can learn and enhance there.
Now, you can finally get to work on defining your internship goals:
- Start with a bigger picture. How will this internship impact your future career?
- Move on to details. Here, try to list as many goals you need to achieve to enhance your knowledge and have this internship contribute to your future career:
- What skills do you already have? (that correspond to the skills this internship can teach you)
- What skills do you want to perfect?
- What experience would you like to get? (participating in meetings, product implementation events, etc.)
- What connections would you like to make?
- Create a deadline for each goal. For instance:
- Learn how to write newsletters by January 5th
- Participate in product implementation by February 14th
- Deliver at least 1 presentation by February 28th
A clear checklist to follow step by step is a helpful tool to use if you want to make sure that you do everything to enhance your knowledge and hone your skills with your internship.
2. Ask for a Mentor
Since your time as an intern will be limited, you should look for someone at work who will help you follow through with your plan, providing you with tasks and training.
So, before you start your internship, make sure that you ask for a mentor or supervisor. Absolute Internship always ensures an English-speaking supervisor when needed.
Now, what can a mentor do for you?
- Answer all your questions. Even the most skilled students will be surprised to find how little they know about what the job actually involves. So be prepared to ask as many questions as possible. Your mentor or supervisor will answer them for you!
- Help you tackle the issues. Since you’ll be new to the work environment, there might be some misunderstandings at first. For this, you’ll need a person who’s native to this environment and knows the company, other employees or processes well enough to help you tackle any issues that arise.
- Help you see the bigger picture. Your mentor will explain how your daily tasks contribute to the bigger picture and not just this internship, but your future career too.
To make sure that you make the most out of your internship abroad, ask your mentor for feedback. It will help you track the progress of achieving every goal in your plan and also see the progress of how well you are developing your skills and applying your knowledge.
Depending on where your internship will be, internship organizers may ask you about the qualities you’re looking for in a mentor. Make sure you articulate your expectations in detail, basing your answer on the goals that you’ve listed earlier in your plan.
3. Partake in Corporate Education Programs
During your internship abroad, you may want to attend any type of training provided by the company. This could be from lectures and seminars to workshops and career speakers. Be as proactive as you can in all of these events!
How effective is corporate training? Companies usually organize educational events according to the skills and knowledge they want their employers to learn or master. “Our research shows that after corporate training employees are 60% more likely to apply their new knowledge and skills”, says Peter Jefferson, a researcher at a joint Studicus and TrustMyPaper project on the importance of corporate training.
How effective is corporate training for your internship?
- Direct access to resources that help you learn a skill. Educators, who present at lectures and seminars, always share resources to practice and apply the skills that you learn during the training.
- You can apply your skills right away. The skills and the knowledge you acquire during corporate training can be applied right away when you do your daily tasks.
- You get valuable connections. Since you’ll be working in groups, you can improve your relationships with your colleagues, leaving you with valuable networking that can come in handy when you’re looking for a job.
Your mentor can become your key to access the corporate training programs that you’re interested in. You should also mention your willingness to participate in corporate training for internship organizers.
4. Document Your Experience
Before moving forward to new internships or jobs, document your progress and experience!
Every time you partake in corporate events, training programs, make progress in developing a new skill or apply your knowledge, make sure you keep track of your achievements.
Undoubtedly, documenting your internship experience will help you to:
- Set clear objectives for your next internships. If you are interested in doing more internships, your previous experience will help you define your next goals.
- Identify your next career move. You will have a clear understanding of what you still have to achieve to build the career you’re striving for.
- Create a clear list of skills you’ve gained, which is extremely important for your résumé and professional image.
Since an internship is a short but significant experience, you need to make sure that you document your experience to track your efficiency and see how well you’re working on developing new skills and enhancing your knowledge.
Over to You!
“It’s great to have a university degree, as you get access to knowledge and new opportunities. But practice is everything, and colleges aren’t always capable of giving it to you.”
When it comes to a successful career, your experience is everything. And the best way to get it is by applying for and participating in an internship abroad.
Internships abroad are a great source of international opportunities to apply your existing skills, gain new ones, enhance your knowledge and have a global overview of your field or industry. But since it’s limited in time, you need to make sure that you do everything to make the most of it.
Hopefully, our tips will help you reap as many benefits from your internship as you can and gain the experience that will define the success of your future career!
Estelle Liotard is a self-made professional, who currently works as a content writer at WowGrade. She’s passionate about innovations in education, always ready to share her knowledge and tips with educators and students.