Internship Abroad: All the important information

Part 3 of our Study Abroad Series

Written by Sabine Klug, Dec 14, 2021

Gaining professional experience, establishing international contacts and improving language skills are some advantages of an internship abroad. The reasons for doing an internship abroad are manifold. Some people do it after their graduation or during their studies because they want to and some are obliged to. Many students prefer an internship abroad to a semester abroad for three reasons:

  • Less organisation and planning
  • Shorter period
  • Professional experiences in an international context while earning money

Duration

Most companies prefer longer internships, but this also has advantages for you. You can get to know the different departments and work flows better, you are more likely to work on projects from beginning to end and during your internship, you will get more responsibility.

Help from institutions

There are many options for the planning of your internship abroad. The easiest one would be organising it with the help of an organisation. But these organisations are not for free. However, the biggest advantage is that you only have to place one application with the organisation and not for every company individually. The organisation will look for an internship that suits you and work out the contract. The fee as well as the application process and necessary documents vary from organisation to organisation. Therefore, you should get information directly from the organisation you want to work with:

Obligatory internships during your studies

At university, you have to do an internship? This makes planning much easier because the university usually helps you finding a suitable internship. Most of the times, universities work with partnering companies who hire students for internships abroad. The company as well as the student agree to complement their theoretical knowledge with practical work. Therefore, the application process is sometimes skipped entirely. However, there are two different times of internships:

  • Obligatory internship without employment contract: The internship’s main focus is on education and studying, not on working for the company. Therefore, you don’t get a normal salary. If and how much pocket money you get from the company is the company’s decision.
  • Obligatory internship with employment contract: You sign an employment contract for interns. You get the usual salary and have insurance.

We recommend that you sign an internship agreement and keep everything well documented.

Applying on your own

Many universities encourage voluntary internships abroad. This is a great asset, but you have to organise it yourself. Without contact to international companies, this is rather difficult. Where do you begin to search? Which industry is right for you? Which country is the right one for you? Make an appointment with your study counsel because they usually have a great network of partnering universities, companies and cooperation partners for internships abroad. Many universities also have an “internship marketplace”.

Your application documents should be in the country’s language or at least in English. Don’t forget to provide necessary record sheets and language certificates. Prepare for a job interview via phone or Skype. Before applying for an internship, you should check with your university that this internship will be acknowledged.

STUWO Tip: Living abroad

If an organisation or company organises your internship, they often also get you a place to live. Many companies work with student accommodations, have a flat or shared flat for international interns. But it’s best to ask them!

Start looking in time

If you have to look for an accommodation yourself, start looking in time. If you can’t find a place to stay, it’s best to arrive a few weeks early and get yourself a room in a cheap hotel. You won’t have the time to look for a flat or shared flat during your internship. Worst case, try it via social media. Using the contacts you have abroad can be smart, but be careful.

Scholarships and financial aid

The scholarship databank is the biggest one in Austria. Here you can look for scholarships you can apply for. Unfortunately, there isn’t a big repertoire for scholarships for internships. Therefore, you should ask the international office of your university for tips. Sometimes the country covers scholarships for internships; sometimes it’s the universities themselves. The most known programme in Europe is Erasmus+.

  • Erasmus+: Here you get financial support for an internship in Europe. The international office of your university can give you more information and advice and leads the application process.

How much does an internship abroad cost?

All the wonderful experiences are going to be great for you, but don’t forget that you also have to pay for your time abroad. So, think about how you are going to finance your internship abroad in time. Cost of living varies from region to region, organisation costs vary from company to company and travel costs depend on your destination. Here’s a list of aspects you have to keep in mind:

  • Paying for the organisation
  • Cost of living: rent, daily expenses, leisure time, public transport
  • Insurance
  • Visa
  • Travel costs

An internship abroad offers you so much: more depth for your studies, additional qualifications for future jobs and unique experiences during your studies.

Questions?

We are happy to help!