¿Qué? 6 top tips to find a summer internship on your year abroad

7 February 2019

Moving away from the January blues, we start thinking about the summer ahead! Have you got any plans yet? ESPS student Isabel Scavetta, gives 6 very practical tips on how to secure a summer internship including using UCL services such as Careers and UCL Alumni Networks!

isabel blog

If you think finding an internship is tough, try doing it whilst simultaneously settling into a new country!

Penultimate year students are key targets for internship schemes, and this is no different in this year’s recruitment cycle. However, students on their year abroad often miss out on key deadlines and opportunities due to juggling all the additional challenges that a new environment brings.

If you’re currently on your year abroad (like me!), here’s some advice on how to find an internship for next summer:

Familiarise yourself with the recruitment cycle back home – deadlines for the vast majority of summer internships this academic year will be in December 2018 or January 2019. Begin to have a look at where you might like to apply and draw up a shortlist of programmes. Some internships recruit on a rolling basis (an ongoing process where they fill spaces as they find high quality applicants), whilst others will consider all applications after a set deadline. Factor this into your search to make sure you don’t miss out.

Nowadays, there are some great websites which will do the legwork for you. For example, Bright Network have a list of hundreds of available internships which you can filter by a variety of criteria. As an added bonus, if you get a position through them, they’ll send you a bottle of champagne to say congratulations! 

Even though you are not physically studying at your university this year, you should still be able to access all of their resources. This often includes the careers department, who will likely be more than willing to help you in your search! This is particularly useful if you’re not looking to go into any of the large corporate schemes which are well-publicised online. Your university should have links to a variety of opportunities and may be able to put you in contact with your perfect match.

For example…
At my university UCL, we have an Alumni Community which lets you reach out to Alumni and ask for mentoring or advice on entering the industry (I’ve used it personally and you can read about my experiences using it here!). We also have the UCL Careers Hub who can offer CV checks and careers advice.

As you are not physically in your home country, your online presence is even more important. At the very least, make sure you have a professional email address which you can contact companies and recruiters through. Personally, I would also really recommend making a LinkedIn account so that you can list your previous experiences and build your professional network. This is also really helpful for my next piece of advice…

If you have a specific career path or company in mind, feel free to reach out to the company’s recruitment team for information for students studying abroad. For example, would they be able to interview you over Skype? Some organisations are willing to fly promising applicants back to their home country for an interview in person – this kind of information is really valuable to know!

Most companies will have an email address listed on their website for enquiries about their recruitment process. You can also often contact undergraduate recruiters directly on LinkedIn. Be polite in your enquiry and hopefully they will be willing to help.

As you settle into your new country, consider if interning abroad is something that you might enjoy. Nowadays many organisations have numerous international offices, and if you’re looking for your next challenge, you could find it abroad!

Note: To work in certain countries you may need to fit specific visa requirements or language requirements. Always factor this into your research.

6) DON’T BE AFRAID TO PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE (and shock…that internships are not the be all or end all!)
Big internship schemes are not the only way to gain experience over the summer. There is also a lot to be gained from other forms of learning. For example, there may be more informal opportunities to shadow professionals or to work in a voluntary role alongside a team. These kind of opportunities are usually created on a more personal basis, such as emailing individuals or companies that you would like to learn more about. Explain who you are and why you’re particularly interested in what they do, and be sure to keep it polite and succinct. Whilst you will not get a response every time, I have friends who’ve achieved the most amazing things by just asking!

Equally, interning is by no means the be all or end all. Maybe you’d like to use your penultimate university summer to gain practical experience, travel or continue to explore your new home! There’s no right or wrong way to spend your summer, and for some, the glory of the 3 month break alone is enough.

I hope that this was a useful first step in considering your options for next year’s plans. Why not boost your chances and try out one of the suggestions above?

From me, for summer 2019, good luck, buena suerte et bonne chance!


By Isabel Scavetta