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As a sophomore comparative literature major at Princeton, I was torn when it came time to decide what to do over the summer. On the one hand, I wanted to spend the summer improving my French skills so that I could start studying Spanish in the fall. On the other, I had never had an internship before, and I had hoped to try my hand in the corporate world. Luckily, I found Princeton in France, an international internship program offered by the university.
It's not unusual for a college or university to provide international internship opportunities. James Madison University, Yale University and Michigan state University are just a few examples. What's more, a lot of programs, even though they're based at a particular college or university, will accept students from other undergraduate programs.
The premise is simple: To give undergraduates the opportunity to work on their language skills, experience a new culture, and gain valuable work experience all at once. Of course, the logistics of going abroad can quickly become much more complicated. When it comes to finding the right internship, the key is to be flexible. When you first apply to an international internship program, you will be asked to describe your academic interests, (tentative) career goals and reasons for interning abroad. The program will then suggest some internships and companies/organizations that they feel would fit best. Not all majors lead directly to a career path--for example, as a comparative literature major interested in writing, I was matched with an internship archiving a French poet's work in the South of France and a marketing and advertising company. Talk to your professors and program coordinators about what your academic--and personal--interests are and you will be able to translate those interests to a professional environment.
It is also important to take financial concerns and constraints into account. I was able to break even financially, though just barely, thanks to some lucky housing coincidences and a no-interest loan (merci mom and dad!) that I paid back at the end of the summer. There are, however, definitely some tricks to living abroad on a budget.
Which brings me to my next point: Economic constraints are not the only reason you might shy away from pursuing an internship abroad. Loneliness can be a big concern, as is having to work with people who speak a different language. Here's some advice:
--Posted by Madison Priest
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