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Finding Internships While Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is an experience that will provide more understanding of yourself and the world, as well as several transferable skills that will be useful in your career. However, it also creates some obstacles if you want to find an internship for the summer.

One upside of the pandemic is that many employers are recruiting virtually so the disadvantage you may have experienced with lack of access to in-person interactions is significantly less. In terms of distractions, access to technology, and time zone differences, here are some strategies you can use to minimize their interference with finding an internship.

Before You Go:

Use your time before you go abroad to complete several tasks that will make your time spent on your search efficient and effective.

  1. Become familiar with CCA Resources, many of which can be found regardless of location through our 24/7 Online Career Center Moodle Page which provides access to our tools, handouts, strategies, and subscription resources available for you. 
  2. Determine your internship targets to make it easier to focus your search. Your target is your career goals – for example, job function, industry, location, type of employer, and skills you want to use. Then, learn as much as you can about the areas you selected by joining one (or more!) Career Communities that interest you and by using the career exploration resources we have available to you.  
  3. Develop a Resume and LinkedIn Profile and have them reviewed.
  4. Develop a List of Ideal Employers. Take control of your search by choosing your ideal employers and creating a list of those you want to learn more about and follow, with the goal that they get to know you and you get to know when they recruit for their internships. Keep track of what you learn in a calendar or document so you can consult it later.
    • Follow the Handshake, LinkedIn, and social media accounts of the employers you are interested in for an easy way to stay on top of what is happening or any internship opportunities that may have be posted.
  5. Start Networking. With the ease of applying online, there are more applications for any one opportunity and fewer chances for yours to be seen. In order to be noticed, you need to be known. You can become known by being referred by people who have employed or taught you. Start with those contacts and expand out your network by engaging in conversations with those who are working (or have worked) in one or more of your targets. Keep in touch with your contacts by reaching out and following or connecting to them on social media.
  6. Know Opportunities and Deadlines. 
    • Handshake is the first place to check for advertised opportunities because employers use it to find college students and the positions are often planned to start the following summer. Generally, larger employers who have many predictable entry-level opportunities advertise earlier in the year and those who are smaller or have fewer anticipated openings advertise closer to when the position starts. It is possible the opportunities you want aren’t listed yet (that is where talking to employers and networking helps – ask them when they recruit for internships!)
    • Look for advertised opportunities on employer websites, professional associations, and industry-related job sites. You can find these listed in articles and guides in the Firsthand, Goinglobal and What Can I Do With This Major? (in MyBucknell -> My Career Center).
  7. Keep your search organized Here is one search organization resource that you can download and adapt to your needs.

While You are Abroad:

  1. Set Aside Regular Time To Conduct Your Internship Search. Realize that you will be busy with your studies, travel, and other activities while abroad. It will be very easy to postpone working on your internship search; make time for it each week. Schedule internship search time the same way you would a class, meeting, or other commitment.
  2. Use A Variety Of Search Techniques To Stay In Touch.
    • Check the internship opportunities weekly if you have internet access. Determine which websites are most useful for your search and keep checking back.
    • Contact the employers you spoke with before you went abroad. It is important to follow up with these contacts, especially if they are in the process of selecting interns. You don’t want them to forget about you just because they can’t meet with you in person.
    • Use the lists of employers and alumni contacts that you prepared before you went abroad to inquire about opportunities.
  3. Communicate Clearly With Employers.
    • When applying for internships you should mention in your cover letter that you are abroad and will not be available to interview in person.
    • If selected for an interview that may be in person, be sure to contact the employer to confirm and to make other arrangements for the interview if necessary.
    • When arranging interviews, be sure to confirm the time zone with the employer and that is correctly added to your calendar. Confirm again in any follow-up communication.
  4. Remember the CCA is available virtually and by phone. Set up an appointment on Handshake or email career@bucknell.edu.

When You Return

If you return to the U.S. and the “recruiting season” for your industry is fully underway and you don’t have an internship, consider these strategies:

  1. Follow up with any promising opportunities with a phone call, more personal email or through other methods like LinkedIn.
  2. Consider smaller companies. Reach out and inquire even if opportunities aren’t listed – you may be one of the few who do.
  3. Set up a few informational interviews to expand your network of contacts. 
  4. Make an individual appointment with a CCA Coach to discuss other strategies.

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