The Purposeful Connection of an Internship to Student Career Development

These are my notes from my webinar presentation conducted by the Sub-Committee on Work, Internships and Volunteering Abroad of NAFSA, Nov. 15, 2011 “Integrating the Internship Experience Into Long-Term Career Development”

A NEW RATIONALE FOR EDUCATION ABROAD —

  • Given the impact of globalization in the workplace, and in light of the new skills in demand by businesses, nonprofits and government, it’s to a student’s advantage to consider the career implications of what may be a once-in-a –lifetime educational experience.  Today’s global marketplace demands increased adaptability, cross-cultural sensitivity, political awareness and intellectual flexibility.
  • Globalization’s impact on workers and the workplace has leaped across national borders and transcends cultures.
  • Businesses are taking a more active interest than ever before in the outcomes of education abroad experiences as they struggle to build a sophisticated and informed workforce
  • Employers, especially those doing business internationally, are interested in whether or not a job applicant demonstrates that as a result of their  internship – or other international experience- they have developed the requisite skills and sensitivity that makes them stand out as the strongest candidate for a particular job.
  • The challenge facing students is to successfully translate what they learned abroad into accomplishment statements on their resumes, and to effectively articulate and clearly describe these skills during their job interviews. 

STUDENTS NEED TO MAKE A PURPOSEFUL DECISION TO UNDERTAKE AN INTL INTERNSHIP—LINK IT TO STUDENT CAREER GOALS OR PREFERENCES

It’s important that students not only discuss their interest in an international internship with an advisor in the Study Abroad office, but, also review their decision in terms of their overall career plans – so speaking with an advisor in the Career Services office will be useful.  Even if a student has not yet settled on a clear career path and feel it’s too early, there is much to be gained in having a conversation with a career advisor about plans to study abroad.  Think it through at each stage:

  •  When you are deciding: build opportunities to see connections between study abroad &  your career goals
  • When you are abroad: build opportunities to describe & analyze impacts of new intercultural competencies that you are developing
  • When you return to campus: build opportunities to re-frame and articulate what you have learned

WILL EMPLOYERS VALUE AN INTERNATIONAL INTERNSHIP? Yes, but not the experience itself; they value what is learned, how the student gained new skills such as language competency, increased cross-cultural knowledge and sensitivities, and critical thinking and analytic skills.

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