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A Division of the International Studies Office

Exploring Internships Abroad

Pathways to an Internship Abroad

There are multiple pathways to an international internship, as well as many models for internship experiences. They all offer different benefits and challenges, so it is important to explore them in light of your unique needs and conditions.

UVA Independent Global Internships

Kalea Obermeyer and Blair Smith- Lima, Peru (Summer 2019)

Kalea Obermeyer and Blair Smith- Lima, Peru (Summer 2019)

UVA Independent Internships will not be available as in-person opportunities in summer 2021, due to ongoing global health and safety concerns. Interested students are advised to consider UVA internship programs (see section below) and/or the Virtual Global Internship program, which may include remote positions with Independent Internship-associated partner organizations. 

UVA Global Internships develops direct relationships with organizations, businesses, and institutions which seek to engage UVA students as summer interns. These unique opportunities, which we refer to as “Independent Internships,” are available in a variety of professional fields and in many nations. All Independent Interns participate in the online seminar GSGS 3540 "Working With/Across Cultures in International Internships" for direct credit during their internship abroad. 

Independent Internships are not part of a “package” education abroad program so you must be excited to play the lead role in the processes of preparing for and living out your individualized international experience of work. UVA Global Internships will offer resources, structured support, and a community of like-minded fellow travelers to assist you through each stage of your journey.

FOR FULL DETAILS ABOUT POSITIONS and TO APPLY: Visit the program brochure page.

APPLICATION DEADLINES: Most Independent Internship applications are due early in the Spring semester (check each listing).

FUNDING: Applicants pursing Independent Internship positions are encouraged to also apply for a UVA Global Internships Summer Travel Grant. See the funding section below for more details. 

UVA Internship Programs

Gabriela Corredor completed an internship with a multi-national advertising firm during the UVA in Shanghai Internship program.

Gabriela Corredor- UVA in Shanghai Internship program (Summer 2018)

Global Internships is gratified to work with partners across Grounds and the world to offer academic internship programs for direct UVA credit in globally important locations.

These programs are a bit more like a traditional study abroad program than a UVA Independent Global Internship. You would travel abroad with a cohort of your peers and live in pre-arranged housing. Each program has its own curriculum and different types of internships on offer, so be sure to explore all six of the programs below to understand the full range of options for an experience abroad.

SUMMER PROGRAMS:

WHO: Each program has its own eligibility requirements, so check individual program brochures for more information. 

FOR FULL DETAILS and TO APPLY: Visit each individual program brochure page to access the program applications and submit necessary requirements. 

APPLICATION DEADLINES: Each program will have a different deadline in early Spring (February or March).

FUNDING: Students participating in the UVA Academic Internship programs listed above are eligible to apply for a Global Internships Travel Grant for Academic Programs. Applicants to these internship programs will be automatically considered for this award if they submit the common Education Abroad scholarship (for Summer programs) application

On Your Own

Emma Karnes and India Brahm at work with a community-based anti-mining group in Ecuador.

India Brahm and Emma Karnes- Imbabura, Ecuador (Summer 2019)

Many students secure their own internships abroad each year and we applaud their initiative. Here is some advice for those who are thinking about setting down this path.

 WHO: This could work for you if…

  • + You have very definite goals about what kind of internship you are looking for and/or where you wish to work (and UVA doesn't have a program/Independent Internship that fulfills your goals)
  • + You see the value in practicing the art of the search and are excited about charting your own path
  • + Your network has the potential to yield opportunities
  • + You have the independence and experience to negotiate the process for yourself
  • + You’ve started your search early and have the requisite time to make something happen

THINGS TO CONSIDER: You will be responsible for the following and more…

  • + Steering the course of your internship search
  • + Costs: travel, living, etc.
  • + Setting up your working and living arrangements
  • + Acquiring a visa (if necessary), arranging paperwork
  • + Preparing yourself for an independent experience abroad

STARTING OUT: It makes good sense for you to use this process as an opportunity to develop greater understanding of yourself (as a global citizen and a future professional).

  • + You might want to avail of some of the counseling services and resources available through the UVA Career Center; for example, you can begin to assess your skills, interests, and values with these tools.
  • + You will also want to ask yourself questions about practical aspects of an internship abroad (location? Language skills? Length of time? and more) and your underlying goals for the experience (develop skills directly related to your academic studies? Try something new? Cultural immersion? Others?).

CONNECTING: UVA students have previously found their own internships by:

  • + Conducting online and/or Handshake searches
  • + Reaching out to professors and departments
  • + Networking with friends and family
  • + Connecting with alumni through international UVA Clubs, LinkedIn, mentoring programs

The UVA Career Center has put together a wonderful page on Global Career Searches. It includes links to great databases to which you have access through Handshake: GoingGlobal and Career Insider by VAULT.

It may be possible to make contact with and develop an internship position with an organization that does not solicit interns. In this case, you would want to do your homework regarding the activities of your proposed employer and take initiative in explaining how you imagine you could contribute to their mission.

FORMALIZING: It will be important to engage in conversations with your employer regarding the details of your internship, as well as both parties’ expectations and goals for the experience.

  • + In some cases, you may be asked to produce official documents or internship agreements in order to sanction your internship or obtain your visa. We will do our best to work with you on an individual basis to address these paperwork requirements.

FUNDING: UVA Global Internships gives a limited number of Summer Travel Grants to students who have secured their own internships abroad. See the funding section below and consult the Career Center’s Funding your Internship page for more details.

PREPARATION: If you receive financial or practical support from the University for your internship abroad, you are welcome to request access to pre-departure resources and advising materials provided by UVA Global Internships, as well as attend pre-departure programs and events. Please contact us for more information.

REQUIREMENTS: If you have received assistance from our program in the form of a Summer Travel Grant, paperwork, or advising, you will be required to abide by those expectations set for all UVA Independent Global Interns.

Other Internship Placement Programs

Brooke Albertson and Ky Nguyen- Siem Reap, Cambodia (Summer 2018)

Brooke Albertson and Ky Nguyen- Siem Reap, Cambodia (Summer 2018)

The education abroad field has experienced a remarkable increase in the number and variety of types of fee-based internship placement programs over the last few decades. Many UVA students participate in programs of this sort each year.

These programs are designed to place you in an internship in your chosen field in a chosen location. The placement organization will likely require you to pay a fee for their services. Some organizations operate on a not-for-profit basis and others are for-profit enterprises. Programs vary greatly in terms of the level of structured support offered, internship placement fields, locations, and so on. Some offer academic credit and some do not.

WHO: You may consider this path if you are keen on…

  • + A particular placement in an internship in a field of your choice and/or in a particular location (and UVA doesn't have a program/Independent Internship that fulfills your goals)
  • + On-the-ground support for matters related to living and transportation
  • + The presence of fellow program-mates
  • + Professional development programming and/or other courses

THINGS TO CONSIDER:

  • + Program fees (in addition to those related to living and transportation)
  • + Varying quality of internships and/or program offerings
  • + Varying quality of health, safety, security, and other on-the-ground support

FUNDING: UVA Global Internships gives a limited number of Summer Travel Grants to students who have already secured placements through/with an outside internship program. See the funding section below and consult the Career Center’s Funding your Internship page for more details.

REQUIREMENTS: If you have received assistance from our program in the form of a Summer Travel Grant, paperwork, or advising, you will be required to abide by those expectations set for all UVA Independent Global Interns.

OTHER FOR-CREDIT PROGRAMS

If you are interested in earning credit for an internship overseas and want to look beyond UVA direct credit options, there are many academic programs run by other education abroad providers.

How to search: The International Studies Office’s Education Abroad division maintains a list of programs it has pre-reviewed to be suitable, safe, and legitimate. To search for these programs, first go to their “Choose a Program” page; click the side tab for Search Programs.” On this page, under parameters, find “program type,” scroll down to highlight “internship” and then click the “search” button at the bottom of the page. You will then see a list of all programs with internships as a program component. UVA’s programs will be bolded and at the top of the list. Click on whichever program strikes your fancy and follow the instructions given for how to apply (this will involve a dual application process in which you submit applications both to the program organization and to the ISO). You may direct questions about the program and application to the Education Abroad advisor listed on the brochure page.

  • + IMPORTANT: Transfer credit is approved on an individual student-by-student basis and must be approved prior to your participation in the program. See the ISO’s Academic Considerations page for more details.
  • Example: You search through the list, see IES’s academic internship program in Rome listed, and decide to apply. You develop the expectation that you will be placed in an art history-related internship (as IES advertises is possible) and you then apply for transfer credit for the 3-9 credits you would like to take while there (approval is not guaranteed).

Unreviewed programs: If you come across a program elsewhere in your research that meets your needs but is not on the ISO’s pre-reviewed list, you may submit a petition application. Review of petition applications is two-fold. First, the student is reviewed for eligibility to participate in education abroad activities. Second, the program criteria (academics, housing, on-site support, etc.) are reviewed for one-off approval. Search for “petition” in the Program Search to locate the appropriate application for your destination. As with an outside/provider program, you must also apply through the provider for acceptance.

  • Example: You are applying for Global Experiences’ London internship program (which offers the chance to take a three-credit course) but you see that it is not listed on the ISO’s pre-reviewed list. You would then apply directly to the program and would submit a petition for transfer credit (approval is not guaranteed).

OTHER NOT-FOR-CREDIT PROGRAMS

UVA Global Internships does not officially partner with any non-UVA internship or volunteer placement programs, except for EUSA in the context of the UVA in Dublin/UVA in Prague IPP Global programs.

We are happy to share tips and resources with you so you can evaluate whichever fee-based programs you come across on your own; contact us for help. Programs like Global Experiences offer their own advice on choosing a program provider.


Funding an International Internship

An internship abroad is likely to be a valuable experience, both personally and professionally, but it will require investments of time, energy, and financial resources. While some internships abroad may come with salaries, stipends, or other forms of support, many opportunities may be unpaid. Each path to a global internship will have different associated costs. You are encouraged to think about how much you can personally afford to invest in an experience abroad (either from savings, support from guardians, or through paid work before/after) as well as sources of funding both within UVA and beyond. We suggest you think of funding your internship abroad as a matter of “co-investment:” others may be able to offer support but you should expect that you may need to contribute as well.

Global Internships Summer Travel Grant

Kenza Lo- Ghent, Belgium (Summer 2019)

Kenza Lo- Ghent, Belgium (Summer 2019)

Due to the suspension of Summer 2021 UVA Independent Global Internships, the Global Internship Summer Travel Grant will not be offered for Summer 2021. 

These grants were generously established by the Vice-Provost of Global Affairs to support the work of any student at the University of Virginia who has secured an internship in a “global” setting. 

Students may apply for support to cover the costs of participation associated with internship positions, including travel to and from the location of work, living expenses, and/or program fees. Grantees may be awarded up to $3,000. The review committee operates with the dual commitments of offering support to the most financially needy applicants and to the greatest number of needy students. Thus, the majority of grants bestowed are partial.

ELIGIBILITY: Students in the process of applying for Independent Global Internships may apply for this grant. Additionally, individuals who have already secured their own internships abroad or are participating in outside internship programs may apply for this award; a limited number of grants may be bestowed in these cases.

** Please note that students intending to participate in UVA internship programs should not apply to this competition; rather, they should submit a common Education Abroad scholarship application (due Feb.15th) in order to be considered for the separate Global Internships Travel Grant for Academic Programs

FOR FULL DETAILS and TO APPLY: Visit Handshake posting #3291995.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 21, 2020

More Funding Opportunities and Resources

+ The Charles H. Koch Jr. Scholarship provides financial support up to $5,000 to help cover the expenses of internships related to foreign affairs to students in the College of Arts & Sciences. The judges of the competition will give priority to funding internships requiring travel abroad. In order to maximize the assistance provided by the fellowship, they may decide to divide the funds among more than one student.

+ The Larry Simpson Internship Scholarship was designed to encourage rising 4th year students in the College of Arts & Sciences to participate in summer internships. It is administered in a collaborative arrangement between the UVA Alumni Association, University Career Services, and UVA Financial Services.

+ The Parents Fund Internship Grants are $3,000 grants offered each spring to 16 students who have secured unpaid public service internships.

+ The Z Society Gilbert J. Sullivan Award offers a $2,000 scholarship awarded to a returning undergraduate student of the University. It is intended to provide an opportunity to take a summer internship otherwise unattainable because of financial constraints.

+ The Institute for Practical Ethics offers scholarships of $2,000 to students who secure internships which relate to the integration of ethical theory and practice.

+ The Sydney Elizabeth Owens scholarship, administered by the Alumni Association, will support a current first-, second- or third-year student who has designed with faculty approval or input, a transformative experience to take place over the course of a semester or summer. The amount of the award for 2018 was $6,000.

+ The Hannah Graham Memorial Award is offered to support a year-long educational engagement related to a topic or issue relevant to promoting health and development and/or to reducing the incidence and/or severity of violence against women and girls. The engagement will include coursework or independent study during the semester preceding the field placement to prepare for research or service work in the chosen community.

+ The Dee Family Global Scholarship was created to support UVA student participation in innovative student learning through study or research abroad that demonstrates well-constructed plans, partnership with the local community, and the potential for continued inquiry.

+ The goal of the IRC Study Abroad, Travel, & Learn Award Program is to strengthen the international character and interactions of IRC student members while ensuring a strong focus on academics. The award specifically provides $500-1000 travel expenses for qualified study abroad expenses during the January Term, Spring Break or Summer Session.

+ The Royster-Lawton Fellowship in Social Enterprise provides $3,000 in funding to support summer internships in social enterprise. Staff can match you with a social venture according to your interests, or you can choose your own. Fellows also benefit from career coaching, resume and cover letter development.

Small Research and Travel Grants from the College of Arts & Sciences are for students conducting research, engaging in artistic activities, or presenting their own research at professional conferences.

+ The Center for Global Health’s University Scholar Awards support and cultivate the design and implementation of interdisciplinary research projects mentored by faculty and conducted at Center for Global Health International Partner sites or in other settings.The CGH-University Awards are open to undergraduate, graduate and professional students in all departments across grounds at the University.

+ The Equity and Environment Fund, supported by the Civic Engagement Subcommittee, is available for students/student groups for community-based initiatives or projects that sit at the intersection of equity, justice, and sustainability. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

+ The Marshall Jevons Fund was established to make awards of up to $1,000 to undergraduate students at the University of Virginia to support research projects and academic travel in the field of economics. Current undergraduate students in any year of study who are enrolled in an economics course or who are engaged in research related to economics in a program outside the Department of Economics may apply.

+ The Raven Society established the Raven Fellowships to encourage undergraduate and graduate student pursuit of scholarly, intellectual, and creative projects. The Raven Society endeavors to bring together outstanding students, faculty, administrators, and alumni of the various schools of the University so that they may derive the benefits of mutual acquaintance in pursuit of diligent scholarship and intellectual activity beyond the limits of systematic work in the classroom.

UVA-BASED RESOURCES

Visit the sites of our knowledgeable colleagues around UVA to educate yourself about other funding opportunities related to research, internships, fellowships, and education abroad. These offices can point you to both internal and external competitions.

EXTERNAL RESOURCES

The following are a few external websites to continue your search. This list is just a starting point and UVA Global Internships does not endorse any of the following sites.

  • Diversity Abroad– provides a scholarship directory, searchable by field and location. The website also provides information about loans for studying an interning abroad. This is a good site to peruse if you are looking for scholarships given by particular education abroad provider organizations (e.g. IES, API, etc.).
  • GoAbroad.com offers an internship scholarship search with results for national scholarships/fellowships and program-specific scholarships.
  • GoOverseas.com offers its own scholarships for work, volunteer, and study abroad.

 

The Unique Benefits of an Internship Abroad

Why do a global internship?

INSTRUMENTAL:

An internship abroad will provide you with employer-desired experiences, and it may prove a valuable means to the end of enhancing your employability.

We have all heard facts and figures about the impact of certain experiences during college upon a new graduate’s employability. While the ultimate outcomes of paid and unpaid internships are proving a complex matter of study, employer desires are fairly clear. Increasingly, they appreciate two types of experiences when evaluating candidates: previous work and cross-cultural. 95% of employers surveyed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) say candidate experience is a factor when making hiring decisions. A majority of employers want candidates with “intercultural knowledge” and “knowledge of the U.S.’s role in the world and cultural diversity (within and outside the U.S.)” [American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2010].

Often, alumni report back to us that their global internship experiences featured prominently in successful interviews with employers. Whether your internship is directly related to your present course of study or an exploration into another professional future, you will develop transferrable skills that are valuable in the job marketplace.

  • + Makayla Palazzo (French & Economics, ’17)— My experience at a think tank in Rabat, Morocco was a formative professional opportunity that taught me how to work and succeed in a cross-cultural context. Between office norms, communicating in a different language, and the research I completed during the internship, I can say I am much better primed to pursue a job in a foreign country than I was before last summer.
  • + Genevieve Agar (Economics, ’17) The opportunity to purse an internship abroad was both incredible and necessary: so much of what we learn in our classes at UVA is theoretical—by venturing out into the real-world, we finally get to see the theories in practice. Without my internship abroad, I wouldn’t have connected certain ideas from class to the real-world, and also have this experience shape my career path after UVA and forge greater connections both at the University and abroad… Without the GIO, I would never have gone and this summer internship has shaped my views on Economic Development and Aid work in a way that no class ever could.
  • + Cameron Gude (Aerospace Engineering, ’15) was one of eight Engineering students who worked at Samsung in the summer of 2014. He resolutely believes that his internship abroad was the most valuable aspect of his undergraduate experience in regards to career development. During his hiring process with Boeing, Cameron emphasized the technical skills he acquired in the Samsung position as well as the intercultural skills he developed, such as communicating effectively and creatively with diverse co-workers; he presently employs these cross-cultural skills in his US-based job, as he often must work with partners from other nations.

SOCIAL:

In an international work environment, you will have the chance to explore your place in a network of relationships that extend far beyond Grounds.

The skills you will practice in communicating across difference, negotiating uncertainty, and cultivating curiosity in new social settings will serve you throughout your life. Many interns report that they made friends and contacts during their internship who have continued to enrich their lives, personally and professionally, long after their experiences abroad.

  • + Katy Miller (Global Studies- Environments and Sustainability, ’17)— The opportunity to have such an immersive and extended internship experience was invaluable to my personal and academic goals. I met amazing people, was inspired by incredible supervisors, and have formed lasting relationships. I would never have been able to complete these internships without the connections of Global Internships and the financial assistance provided. It gives the opportunity for students who may not have otherwise to have abroad experience to work abroad, especially in their field of interest.

CULTURAL:

Working in a different cultural context will give you lived experience with the reality that different worldviews, practices, beliefs, values, and imaginaries exist across the globe.

Culture is robust. It roots the lives of all humans and is enacted in the everyday. Unless you seize the chance to learn how to function another cultural context, you may not appreciate the fact that you do indeed have a cultural worldview that you carry around; while that worldview is continually reinforced in your native surroundings, it is not universal.

In a work setting, in one form or another, you will be asked to accomplish something; how you manage to do this (or not do this) across human difference will yield insights into how culture inflects and continually creates diverse worlds. We hope this will encourage you to display acceptance and appreciation of alternative ways of being.

  • + Heather Thompson (Economics, ’17)— The Global Internship program here at UVA gave me an amazing opportunity explore places I didn’t think of as options for me before. I was able to immerse myself in another culture. My experience in India last summer definitely changed my course of study here at UVA, as well as my future plans; I’ll be going back to India this summer.

ACADEMIC/PROFESSIONAL:

An internship abroad will give you the chance to develop perspective on your current academic/professional track with reference to the rest of the world.

In working alongside colleagues with diverse professional and personal lives, you will be better able to appreciate the many alternative paths to meaningful work that the world has to offer. You might be asked to learn about a topic or field that you had no prior knowledge of and it may open up a whole new future of learning and work. You might discover that your prospective career looks and means something very different in a non-U.S. context. We hope you will take the chance to reflect upon how your colleagues are, like your professors, helping to educate you and that they have invaluable knowledge to share.

  • + Anna Davis (Speech Pathology M.A., ’18): Being able to actually work in another country and meet the professors and students in this is field invaluable. It was an honor to be selected to perform this internship in its first year of completion. I would recommend the trip to any graduate student in the speech pathology program and I hope this internship opportunity is available to other students in the future to help us develop as professionals who can learn about our profession on a global stage.
  • + McKenzie Cromer (Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, ’18): The GIO has given me the confidence and connections required to fulfill my dream of working abroad. The personalized attention I received helped me to ensure I had a great experience during my time in India that I might not have in a study abroad program. My internship last summer has helped me make better decisions about my academic path and my career options abroad, and for that I am incredibly grateful.
  • + Aija Crawford (Speech Pathology, ’17): I appreciated the workplace environment and mission of my research/social services organization because it afforded me the opportunity to learn about ongoing field research for children and adults with different emotional, behavioral, intellectual, and physical disabilities… As a future speech-language pathologist, I will be working with individuals who have different emotional, behavioral, intellectual, and physical disabilities and my internship helped me understand how policies and laws affect these individuals, so then I will be able to help improve their overall quality of life.

PERSONAL:

An internship abroad is an unbeatable opportunity to get to know yourself better.

In addition to developing skills that can be transferred directly to the workplace, you will most certainly be granted the opportunity to learn about yourself as a fledgling adult during your internship abroad. Your internship experience is likely to be highly individuated and challenging, and this means you will need to draw upon your inner reserves to continue to cultivate your own independence, resilience, and curiosity.

  • + Brady Straus (Global Development Studies, ’17)— When looking back at my time at UVA, I’ll cherish all the wonderful moments on Grounds, but my time I spent abroad in Pune, India facilitated through the GIO will always be a special and especially fond memory… My global internship allowed me flexibility and independence to fully experience living in a foreign, often intimidating, setting. Through this opportunity, not only did I gather real-world experience working for a non-profit, but I also garnered self-confidence and comfort in complex circumstances that will serve me well next year for life after UVA. I hope fellow university students recognize the amazing opportunities available to them through resources such as the Global Internships Office.

Emily Broghan Kelly doing field-based research with a rural engineering practice in Pietermartizburg, South Africa.

Emily Broghan Kelly- Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (Summer 2017)