Why Do An International Internship

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

IIE Open Doors report that the number of students doing international internships increased nearly 75% over the five years from 2014 to 2019. Although other areas of international student experiences have also seen consistent growth, none appear to parallel that of internships.As the number of multinational corporations continues to grow, more and more employers are looking to hire individuals interested in having an international work experience. And students have started to react.

According to Tony Brown, Professor of Russian and Director of the Moscow Internship Program at Brigham Young University, “employers want to see that a student not only has classroom experience, but that they have real-world experience in their desired profession.” Years ago, internships were considered a luxury, now they are practically essential. Combining employers’ desire for real-world experience with their need for international understanding is what’s driving students to build their resumes with global internships and ace their interviews.

Build Your Resume

Aidan Houston, a participant in one of Tony Brown’s international internship programs, went to Riga, Latvia to work as an intern for BaltNews. While there, he had the opportunity to ask Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, a question during a press conference. As Brown states, “Aidan was right in the thick of that whole experience; being able to not only see journalism but do it at the same time.”

Pertinent, real-world experience adds considerable strength to a resume. Employers are drawn to job seekers with applicable and versatile involvement. Additionally, having an experience like Houston’s will build cultural awareness and develop a world view that can be valuable in any setting. Brown says: “The skills they develop on these internships transfer into any number of disciplines and make them extremely marketable in the process.”

Ace Your Interviews

Emily Hoskins was another participant in Brown’s Riga, Latvia internship group. Her experience, however, focused on cancer research. With a strong foundation for her research at BYU, Hoskins was able to collaborate with others who had different perspectives and progress the work on her projects. Thanks to that experience, she is now a graduate student continuing her research at Ohio State University. According to Brown, her internship “really served as a springboard for being able to move right into a Ph.D. program.”

One of the main reasons Hoskins and others have been able to move into jobs and graduate programs so well is that their interviewers are intrigued by their international experiences. Brown reports that today’s interviewers often want to know more about what the applicant did on their internship than what they did at their university. Students who can articulate their experiences do extremely well in their interviews.


Referring to both Hoskins and Houston, Brown says, “the experience they had really proved critical to their landing a job or getting a slot in a graduate program.” Having meaningful and relevant international experience builds resumes and allows students to shine in interviews. Employers of both local and multinational corporations will be excited to take advantage of a student’s real-world, international experience.

Brown offers one last piece of advice for those who may be interested in an international internship: “the sooner the better.” Although many consider an internship part of their finishing experience at a university – and focus on landing one between their junior and senior years – the earlier students can start to expand their global perspective, the better able they will be to connect their classroom learning to the real world and build a foundation for a strong start to their careers.

To learn more about international internships, listen to Tony Brown’s 2020 Global Perspectives Summit presentation here.

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