Continuing off of our successful post on Unpaid Internships in British Columbia, let’s delve into the elusive idea of internships abroad. As the Publishing class of 2013 works away at finishing the last few weeks of our one-year intensive program, the thought of heading into the real world is downright frightening to most of us. That’s where an internship steps in—put simply, it is a place to learn and gain experience in a desired occupation or profession.
Whether you are a graphic designer, writer or production aficionado, an international internship brings forth images of freedom, adventure and that exhilarating feeling of wonder to many. But has a light ever been brought to the reality of the situation? While visions of the Big Apple and the Eiffel Tower can sway even the most stubborn creative crop, are internships abroad all they crack up to be? Or, to everyone’s dread, are they exactly how Hollywood portrays them—coffee runs in the middle of rush hour and licking envelopes until the darkest hours of the night.
There are a few setbacks to international internships that can damper a young designer’s spirits right off the bat. Applications for passports and working Visa’s can take months to possess, with the possibility of the Visa being denied without warning. Also, although leaving the safety bubble of your hometown for something bigger and better sounds amazing, money is definitely an issue that will follow a struggling student around like a raincloud. That being said, no one told you life would be easy and the whole “starving artist” thing is in fact a real-life term. Another factor that should be taken into account are the laws of the land. Although unpaid internships are illegal in British Columbia, in some countries around the world, the law is still being scrutinized. Internationally, some companies offer paid positions, some don’t and some even charge YOU to work for THEM. Be thorough in your research and never settle for anything that compromises what you want out of the internship. After all, it should be a learning experience, not a scam.
If you’re still with me and the cons haven’t yet outweighed the pros, internships abroad can truly be a life-changing experience. You’re on your own, in a city you (hopefully) love, and ready to take on the world. You’ll meet more people than you’ll ever be able to remember, you’ll expose yourself to new cultures and ideas, you’ll make connections to people you may have once worshipped, and you’ll build your resume to be an attractive and impressive weapon against even the toughest of competitors. All you have to do is dig a little on the web, start that application and be on your way to your dream job.
At the end of the day, whether you choose to embark on a great journey into an internship abroad or decide to dive headfirst into the real world, the choice is up to you. Find what you’re passionate about and go for it with all you have. A “go get it” attitude will get you a job, a “maybe I’ll wait until the moment’s right” attitude won’t.