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Shruti Nagbhushan explores the pros and cons of pursuing an internship in a foreign land

For all those students who have a long vacation ahead and don’t know what to do, an internship abroad is a great way of combining work and travel this summer. With a learning experience, you can also make your CV sizzle with an internship in your dream company.

How do you Apply?
For those of you who are lost about how to apply and how to get hold of such opportunities, there are a lot of online avenues that make applications for internships a simple two step process. There are websites like www.letsintern.com, www.goabroad.com, www.studyabroad.com and www.intershaala.com that enable you to choose the destination and field of your choice for an internship. You can register on these websites, and for a minimal membership fee they arrange for internships in companies that they have tied up with abroad. However, the travel cost, accommodation cost, and living cost have to be borne by the students unless negotiated otherwise.

For the Self-Reliant
If you’re the independent kind who likes to explore the realms of opportunities on your own, then these websites would be superfluous for you. You can directly get in touch with the company of your choice, or any university professor, if you’re applying for a research assistantship, and make your own arrangements. In this process however, you have to be patient and prepare for a long wait till they respond and confirm your appointment. Also, managing all the documents and applying for the visa are entirely your responsibilities.

Pros
Compared to internships in India, internships abroad are a more enriching experience. Not only do you learn more about your field of interest on the job, but living away teaches you independence; the high cost of living and meagre income teach you responsible money management; and you’re equipped to break the cultural and language barriers that you encounter. According to Pranay Puranik, who interned in India as well as Singapore, Singapore exposed him to a better environment. “The internship programme is very structured in Singapore. They hire you as an intern to empower you with skills that you wouldn’t otherwise develop. Work ethics are very different. Given the flat structure in organisations, you are able to reach out to anyone, and you can go beyond the usual clerical work.”

Is the Money Spent Worth It?
Ashish Kumar Budhiraja who did an internship in Spain recounts, “I did an internship in robotics at a company in Spain for €800 a month. I found a broker online who gave me a fully furnished flat on rent for around €250. My cost of travelling, living, eating all came up to Rs 1.25 lakh, which was all that I earned during my internship there. But the experience was totally worth the money spent. I met people from 10-12 countries. And I realised that everyone works there because they’re interested and there’s no hierarchy.”

Paid Internships
There is also a new trend that has begun called ‘Paid internships and training programmes’ wherein you need to pay a company or a university to enrol for the internship. “One of my seniors in college did a two-month training programme at London School of Economics where they paid around Rs 2 lakhs for a training course, in addition to their travel and living cost,” Ashish says.

How Does One Benefit From an Internship Abroad?
Most employers look for enthusiasm, dedication and aptitude in your field of interest, and a good internship abroad encompasses all those qualities and much more. After all, a summer spent working hard is a summer well spent!

Just for the Exposure
“I think the biggest reason to do a foreign internship should be the exposure it provides to a student – not only to the most advanced technologies and academic infrastructure which is great for a student to build up his/her knowledge of the subject, but also to a different way of living, and thinking; a new benchmark to compare against.”
– Sarvesh Aggarval, founder and CEO of Internshaala
(www.internshaala.com)

Cons
Work environments abroad are extremely competitive and people take their work ethic very seriously. Also, the way work is done, especially in science, medicine or related fields, vary from place to place. For Vineet Kulkarni who interned at a lab in the United States, his first few days were spent learning and adjusting to the new ways of operating because the consequences of a slip were severe. “The stupidest and smallest things were done differently and even, in some cases, named differently. You need to be extremely careful about the way you present your work and communicate; the sooner you understand and ‘speak’ the language of the lab, the better equipped you are to work here as an intern.”

Volume 3 Issue 1

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