International Internships

Books and Print Resources
How to Pursue an International Internship
Visas and Other Things to Consider
Online Resources


Spending a summer abroad can be an exciting and invaluable experience. Finding an internship in a foreign country however, can be time consuming and challenging. It can require a great amount of research, contacting people internationally, and arranging paperwork and travel details. Start early, at least six to nine months before the date you would like to start working. There are several ways to begin your search, and much of it will be through your own initiative. The career advisors at Career Services are available to guide you along the way. Although finding an internship abroad is challenging, it is certainly possible. Check out the Penn Internship Network to see selected international internships completed by Penn students. (PennKey and PennKey passowrd required.)

How to Pursue an International Internship

A successful international internship search will require a significant deal of research. When you have an idea of where in the world you would like to intern, it is suggested that you do some investigating into the work culture of that region or country. Internship programs may not exist in the areas that interest you, so it is important that you approach your search with this information in mind. Job strategies and the preparation a search entails may also vary country to country. For example, some Western European countries ask for passport-style photographs to be attached to resumes and letters. Make sure you are familiar with the local industry practices. Several of the books listed in this guide include such information; further information is available at the Office of International Programs. GoingGlobal is a terrific resources available to current Penn students by logging in through the Career Services Library Online Subscription page. (Note you will need your PennKey and PennKey password to access this resource.)

Also do your research on local economies and the industries that are strongest in the areas of the world that interest you. To the extent possible, read foreign newspapers, the Wall Street Journal and other business publications to learn about where the business opportunities may exist. Here is a web site (one of several) that provides links to several international newspapers.

As with any job or internship search, do not underestimate the resources you have available to you through networking. The benefits of networking are numerous: it is a great way to learn about various career fields and companies, to hear about strategies successful students before you have employed, and to hear about potential internship opportunities. (In fact, in a recent survey Career Services conducted of students and alumni who participated in international internships, 25% of the respondents indicated they found out about the opportunity abroad through a friend and/or Penn alum.) If you will be studying abroad at any time, do not overlook this very important networking chance. Speak to people working in the fields that interest you, and try to arrange informational interviews while you are still abroad. If you are not going to be studying abroad, networking is still a great option. Talk to your families, their friends and colleagues, previous employers, contacts you may have at domestic offices of international companies, your professors and other professional contacts. Let people know what you are looking for and what your interests are. You can search the QuakerNet directory to see if there are any alumni in the area(s) of interest to you. It can also be a good idea to get in touch with international Penn alumni through the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School regional alumni clubs. You can connect with students who have interned both domestically and internationally through the Penn Internship Network.

A good place to start your research is our web site. Take a look at the Internship and Summer Employment section of our website, as well as our International Employment Resources page. Employers are welcome to post international internships for Penn students on both PennLink and iNet. Penn has several university affiliated internship programs which you can find by clicking here.

If you know of a specific organization you are interested in interning with, do some research on their web site. It may be easier to approach your search through domestic offices of international corporations. Take the time to learn about their existing internship opportunities. Some companies may have internship programs that include international opportunities. A human resources officer in a domestic office may be able to suggest ways for you to contact the hiring office in the country of your choice. You may also get in touch with contacts from the companies that are participating in on-campus recruiting. You can find out more about organizations recruiting at Penn through PennLink.

Online Resources

The Internet is a remarkable resource for searching for an internship. There are dozens of sites that list job opportunities, link to placement offices, and provide general information to help you along your search. These are among the most interesting:

  • AIESEC is an international student organization that places students all over the world in internships and other working situations. For more information on Penn's chapter email
  • EuroGraduate Live contains an up-to-date careers database featuring thousands of opportunities across Europe. There's also expert advice on career planning and how to write resumes and make job applications in other countries.

  • GoingGlobal is a terrific resource which includes cultural information as well as specific internship openings. It is available to current Penn students by logging in through the Career Services Library Online Subscription page.
  • is part of, providing information on international educational opportunities and alternative travel.
  • is an internship database which current Penn students can access through the Career Services Library Online Subscription page.
  • provides only domestic internships, but they have a guide for International Affairs internships. Current Penn students can access the resource through the Career Services Library Online Subscription page.
  • Uniworld has two online directories - one of American organizations with international subsidiaries and one of international organizations with American subsidiaries. (Current Penn students can access through the Career Services Library Online Subscription page.)


There are many organizations that run international internship/work/volunteer programs, often for a fee. Following are just a sampling of them.

  • Abroad China offers a wide range of services to universities, students, recent graduates, faculty and professionals via their internship and study, service learning, volunteer programs, study tours, and travel planning.
  • Alliance Abroad Group offers customized internship, work, teach and volunteer programs for students and graduates.

  • BUNAC offers a variety of work and volunteer programs in Australia, Britain, Cambodia, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Peru, and South Africa.

  • CareerUp is a provider of internships abroad. They have programs in San Francisco, Beijing, Singapore and Manila, and connect talented students with world-class internships. The program includes professional internship placement, furnished housing, 24/7 support, visa assistance, and networking events.
  • CDS International runs internship programs in Germany, Spain, Argentina and the Russian Federation.

  • CRCC Asia provides internship opportunities in Asia within various industries. Their focus is providing students the opportunity to develop their skills while also learning about Chinese culture.
  • Cross Cultural Solutions provides volunteer abroad opportunities and international internships for individuals and groups.
  • InterExchange, Inc. specializes in youth exchange programs including Work & Travel, Au Pair, Internships, Volunteer, Teaching English, and Foreign Language Study.
  • Intrax Intern Abroad can help arrange summer internships in a variety of locations including Belize, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Peru, Singapore, Spain, and the United Kingdom. They have both business and social development opportunities.
  • MASA Israel Journey is an umbrella organization of over 160 long-term (5 months and longer) programs in Israel.
  • Mountbatten Internship Programme gives American graduates and young professionals the opportunity to pursue a 12-month business internship with a London sponsor company, along with the option to pursue a postgraduate certificate or MBA at St. Mary's University College.
  • Projects Abroad sends volunteers abroad to 22 developing countries to do internships and service projects. Countries include Belize, Brazil, Ghana, India, Thailand, Mexico and Peru.
  • ProWorld Service Corps provides 2 to 26 week sustainable development and service learning programs in Belize, Brazil, Ghana, India, Mexico, Peru, and Thailand.
  • World Endeavors is a US-based organization that offers volunteer, study, and intern programs in numerous locations around the world.
  • World Teach offers summer teaching opportunities and 10-11 month opportunities to volunteers throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Pacific.

  • Volunteer World -a one-stop resource for volunteer abroad opportunities. The homepage allows users to filter their search by location, volunteer category and budget. Specific project pages give a quick possibility to transparently compare the projects.  Any fees are clearly indicated in the listings.


The Career Services library has many books, magazines and newsletters available to assist you with your research. You can stop by to browse the collection or search the catalog by clicking on the link above. Here are some titles that may be particularly useful for students seeking international opportunities.

  • Alternatives to the Peace Corps edited by Paul Backhurst
  • Back Door Guide to Short Term Job Adventures: Internships, Extraordinary Experiences, Seasonal Jobs, Volunteering Abroad by Michael Landes
  • Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas by Jean-Marc Hachey
  • Best Resumes and CVs for International Jobs by Ronald Krannich and Wendy Enelow
  • Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries edited by Barbara Fiortio (see also Uniworld online directory though Career Services Library Online Subscriptions link.)
  • Directory of International Internships: Sponsored by Educational Institutions, Government Agencies & Private Organizations by Gliozzo and Tyson
  • Going Global Country Career Guide by Mary Anne Thompson (see also online Going Global though Career Services Library Online Subscriptions and/or the integrated link in PennLink.)
  • International Voluntary Work by Victoria Pybus
  • Internships in International Affairs published by Career Education Institutes
  • Volunteers for Peace, International Workcamp Directory published by Volunteers for Peace
  • World Volunteers edited by Fabio Ausenda and Erin McCloskey


Among the challenges of interning abroad are arranging passports, visas and other paperwork as is necessary for work authorization. The processes for arranging the necessary paperwork can be time consuming.

One of the first things you will want to do is make sure you have an updated passport. If your passport has expired, or if you don't have one, you can find out how to apply for one at the State Department's website. The best way to avoid problems is to make sure you start early, as it can take 6-8 weeks (or longer!) for a new passport. (CIBT is Penn's Preferred Contract Supplier for passports and visa services and offers discounts and customized group options.)

Many countries will allow entrance to American citizen visitors for a maximum of three months. However, if you wish to earn money during this time, or plan on staying longer than three months, a visa may be necessary. Again, getting the correct information about the paperwork you need to work abroad legally will require some research. Several organizations, such as Bunac, can help you arrange a working permit for selected countries. If you have secured a position in a country not represented by one of these organizations, you should contact the company that has made you an offer, as well as that nation's embassy. The following links will be useful for finding the information you'll need:

If you are an international student, you will have to contact your nation's consulate to learn about any authorized paperwork you will need to travel in and out of the United States. The Office of International Programs can provide you with a complete list of embassies and consulates in New York and Washington, D.C.

When you contact the necessary embassy or consulate, be sure to ask about any travel warnings, or health requirements, such as immunization. Student Health Services at Penn can be another source of information on this.

In addition, Penn students are encouraged to register their international travel in the Global Activities Registry (GAR).  Registration in GAR is mandatory for students traveling on Penn sponsored/affiliated trips abroad.  Please visit Penn's International Travel Guidance webpage for more information, travel safety tips and resources, and the list of Heightened Risk Regions.

If you are very committed to interning internationally, try to stay open-minded about your options. The more flexible you are willing to be about location, dates, and type of work, the easier it will be for you to find an internship that can be meaningful and enjoyable.

Good luck on your search!