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Internships Abroad & Work Experience

Gain professional experience & kick start your career

Internships abroad offer the perfect opportunity to develop your career at the same time as travelling the world. You’ll work alongside experts in your chosen field, live abroad and immerse yourself in another culture, make a load of new friends, professional contacts on an international level, and return home ready to kick-start your career – if you want to!

Taking on some work experience abroad can comfortably fit into a longer backpacking adventure or tour, with placements lasting anything from a few weeks to a whole gap year. Consider it an opportunity to gain some proper worldly experience: tick off some items on your bucket list, expose yourself to new ideas and ways of working, and then take it all home to show off to a potential employer. Even though internships overseas are usually unpaid, it’s quite possible your travel expenses and accommodation will be covered by the company you’re working for.

These placements can offer international networking opportunities most people can only dream of, and be incredibly beneficial for getting your foot in the door. With the job market being so competitive, gap year internships can really give candidates the edge they need.

Below are eight frequently asked questions about gap year internships, covering everything from how to find the right placement to visas and more. You can also read our complete guide to interning abroad.

More inspiration and advice about gap year internships


How do I find the right internship abroad?

It all depends what you’re interested in doing! You’ve probably given some thought to what career you’d like to pursue in future. If you have already decided what industry is the one for you, internships abroad represent that first step on the road, getting your foot in the door and some invaluable work experience under your belt. If you’re still undecided about what your long term future holds, an internship can be an opportunity to test out a job or career path, see how you can apply your skills, and discover where your interests really lie. Whether it’s an internship in journalism, media, medicine, finance, business, sports, PR, or something else entirely, you’ll find something to suit your goals.

Where should I go for my work experience abroad?

That often depends on what type of work experience you’re looking for. For example, if you’re interested in adventure training career development abroad you might find yourself in wild and exotic locations such as the national parks of South Africa. If you’re more interested in sporting a sharp suit and getting a leg up in the business and finance industry, you could end up looking at internships in Europe and slicking it in amazing cities like Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, or Madrid, the capital of Spain. There are plenty of choices for gap year internships – think what kind of destination would suit you best, and go from there.

When is the best time to take an internship abroad?

There is no perfect time to take a gap year and pursue career development abroad. The best way to figure it out is to research the industry you are ultimately trying to get into, see if you can identify any patterns in its hiring strategy, and work your time away around that.

Let’s use finance companies as an example: they tend to have recruitment drives during the third quarter of the financial year in order to have their employees properly trained to deal with transactions that must be completed by the end of the year. If you can time it so that you return from your internship abroad around that time, you will give yourself a better chance of being employed quickly.

If you can’t find any pattern like that, just find an internship that best suits your schedule. Have a few months off over the summer holidays? Have a look at summer jobs or internships abroad!

Why do I have to pay a fee to get some of these internships?

It might seem strange to pay a fee to get onto an internship where you are going to be working hard. The reason for a fee will depend on which gap year internship you choose. The fee will often cover expenses involved in having you work there, such as your travel, visas, accommodation, and other administrative costs. For some of these placements it might simply be a way to demonstrate that you are serious about the role and will see it through to the end. The reward for doing so is top professional experience or qualifications which may later lead to a paid role. We recommend you read each internship listing carefully, and if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Will I get paid while taking an internship abroad?

It is unlikely you will get paid during your work experience abroad. It’s a bit of a bummer, but there are still plenty of advantages, and not just the experience you’ll gain. Many internships will cover some of your costs for living in another country, such as accommodation and local travel costs. This cuts your outgoings significantly, meaning you might not need to rely on savings as much as you thought. Some internships may pay a small amount to cover day-to-day expenses. We recommend reading the details of a listing carefully, and if you’re not sure exactly what it involves and what expenses are covered, don’t be afraid to ask questions before you commit to anything.

Do I need visas and vaccinations?

You will almost certainly need a special kind of visa in order to legally work in another country. Many placements will offer help in arranging this, but it may be necessary to do your own research. Visa requirements can differ greatly depending where you are from and where you are looking to work.

Similarly, we always recommend having a chat with your doctor about what vaccinations or immunisations you might need (if any) before you set off. What you might need will depend on your chosen country – and what region of that country you’ll be living in – as well as what type of work you’ll be doing there. You’re most likely to need vaccinations if your internship is in a rural area of a developing country, such as those found in South America and Africa, and or if it involves working with animals and wildlife. Always make sure to see your doctor well in advance of travelling, as some vaccinations may require multiple visits or take some time to become effective.

How long do I have to work for?

The duration of internships abroad will depend on what kind of placement you choose. Some gap year internships may last no more than a couple of weeks, whereas others may ask you to stay for several months. You need to think about what works for you, both in terms of your professional and travel aspirations. A longer placement is good for your CV, but it’s not worth it if it means you miss out on travel experiences you’ve always dreamed of doing. The duration of any internship should be clear when you apply, and it’s important to make sure you can commit to the entire term before you take the work. Leaving an internship early might mean you can’t get a reference or put it on your CV. Only leave an internship early if you feel there is no other choice.

Can I travel during my gap year internships?

You definitely can. In fact, it would be rude not to! Internships abroad may keep you busy a lot of the time, but your days off are yours to do with as you wish. Many backpackers doing internships abroad will make friends in the course of their work, and set off travelling with them around their host country as much as possible. This is a great way to see more of the world, and can also supplement your work there by helping you get better acquainted with the country, its people, and its culture. Living in another country also gives you the best local knowledge, so you won’t miss out on all the best things a country has to offer. And if you have the time, you can always travel further once your internship is over!

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