Internships are some of the most important aspects of higher education, yet they are often lamentably overlooked. Whether paid or unpaid, internships offer a valuable experience in the form of providing a glimpse at the real world of business and industry. Most career tracks in colleges and universities these days will include an internship as part of the curriculum, and sometimes the student will get an exciting opportunity to travel abroad.
Over the last few years, academic and career counselors have carefully looked at their internship programs in an effort to foster the interest of students in their chosen fields of study. Internships have traditionally been considered as exchanges of on-the-job experience for free or low-cost labor, but institutions of higher learning are moving away from such models. That often means sending students abroad to participate in unique internships.
The following four programs are examples of the many internships available around the world:
Biotechnology in Belgium
Biological engineering students of the College of Engineering at Louisiana State University get an opportunity to travel to Leuven, the capital of the Flemish region of Belgium. Thanks to coordination with the Interuniversity Microelectronics Center in Leuven, LSU students can work in the development of coatings for neural probes while learning about life in one of Europe’s most picturesque and cosmopolitan nations.
Sustainable Development in Costa Rica
Northwestern Michigan College, along with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University partner with the unique EARTH University in Costa Rica, an academic and research institution that focuses on sustainable development and social empowerment through agriculture and education. Costa Rica is a tiny Central American nation known for its commitment to peace and democracy, as well as for its amazing biodiversity. Water Management interns get to learn a lot more than just hydrology at EARTH University; they get to brush up on their Spanish and learn about how rural communities in Costa Rica become carbon neutral and adjust their lives to the beautiful natural surroundings.
International Business and Industry in China
A number of academic institutions around the world, from the University of West Australia to the Loyola University of Chicago, offer students in several career fields the opportunity to spend their internships in the People’s Republic of China. This is a program coordinated by CRCC Asia, and it provides students with a lot more than just a work-study experience. China is at the forefront of the globalization movement, and it is becoming the most important international trade partner. Students of engineering, manufacturing, electronics, business, finance, and other disciplines are treated to several cultural exchange events during their stay.
Social Sciences in Cape Town
Students of Public Policy, Social Work, Education, and other disciplines that involve social outreach will find a number of internship opportunities in the magnificent port city of Cape Town in South Africa. Of all the locations on this list, Cape Town probably offers the most exciting leisure activities for interns. The program is coordinated by Connect-123, an international program that offers other destinations.
Students who travel abroad in fulfillment of their internship requirement often get a taste of another culture and a different language, but the most important aspect of their experience is that they get firsthand knowledge of the effects of globalization. Something that college graduates must realize these days is that their future employers may require them to travel and even live abroad as part of their jobs.
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Will Vicary writes for a number of businesses on topics such as internships, auto enrolment and risk mitigation. Any opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the businesses Will writes for.