Ed knows studying abroad for a semester and living outside the U.S. can be a pretty incredible experience. But just because you’re out of the country doesn’t mean you have to put your magazine dreams on hold. With so many international editions and national magazines, interning abroad is a resume show-stopper and an invaluable opportunity you can have with just a bit of prep. Ed got the lowdown on just how from three whippersnappers who did it.
Research, research, research.
A big component of finding an internship abroad is knowing your options. Once you know where you’re going, research publications in the city and track down contact information for editors (some study abroad programs may even help arrange an internship for you).
Clare Ngai, a former University of Missouri student and Hong Kong native who interned at Prestige magazine during one winter break, started her search in the summer. “I’d start at least five months in advance,” Clare recommends, noting the search is double-faceted: You’re looking for publications and information on necessary paperwork or visas if needed. “Make sure you do enough research on the company, know that it’s credible and that you love the city! This is very important because the culture is going to greatly affect your experience at work.”
Think about language.
Depending on where you go and how comfortable you are with the language spoken, you can consider both native language and English-based publications.
Jenny Chen, a former University of Southern California student and Harper’s Bazaar China marketing intern, found her English skills opened the door to different and even greater tasks than others interning with her. “As I was the only person in the office who was a native English speaker, I had skills that other interns didn’t,” Chen says. “I never expected the responsibility of being the main contact with a major company such as Christie’s or to edit PowerPoint presentations for Mercedes-Benz. My mentors gave me a lot of room to learn, and I think that’s something I couldn’t have gained elsewhere.”
Reach out to many, not just one, publication.
The key to securing an internship offer is having a lot of lines out. Maria Gontaruk, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate who studied in Paris at Sciences Po for a semester, reached out to several English-speaking publications a month before leaving and found her match with The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times‘ global edition. “When you finalize several organizations where you’d like to work, email a person working in the department of your choice directly,” she suggests. “If you only email the HR team, your resume may get lost in a pile. Be aggressive and intentional!”
Got the job? Shine on it!
From differences in office cultural norms to being in a multilingual environment, international newsrooms are unique to any American counterpart. Gontaruk, Chen and Ngai share their top tip for excelling in them.
Be open to the differences. “Before going to Paris, I decided that I would adapt to whatever new situation I’d find myself in because I wanted to learn from everything my experience had to offer, and I knew that in order to do that, I could not hold on too tightly to my way of doing things. This way of thinking let me enjoy and fully take advantage of whatever new experiences came my way!” — Gontaruk
Let go of your expectations. “Be aware that other countries may not have the same type of internship programs set up as the United States; your boss may not always understand what types of jobs they should give you or how much they might need to teach or mentor you. Their idea of an internship may be different than what you expected and that’s okay. It’s a learning process and still a really valuable one at that! You really get to learn how to handle a different working environment, and I think that will help in your future regardless of where you work.” — Chen
Don’t be afraid to go all in. “It’s always a rewarding experience to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Especially in this industry, you’d want to know what others are doing across the globe. It’s very important to be in the know and passionate about what’s hot and new in other parts of the world.” — Ngai
Ngai’s boss, Vincenzo La Torre, deputy editor of Prestige, echoed her sentiment. The one way to really succeed? “Be ready to do anything you’re asked to do and to work under pressure,” he says.