Interning Abroad: The Brand of Milk and Honey

By: Allison Rumsas @allisonrumsas


I have spent the last five weeks of my summer in Israel interning at a PR and branding firm, BOMAH- The Brand of Milk and Honey, in Jerusalem. In Israel, internships aren’t very common and after meeting with my boss the first day, I quickly realized that my internship would be much different than the previous internship I had in Chicago.

I work directly with the Founder and Assistant Director of the firm and am given a huge amount of freedom and responsibility with the work that I do. I created my own title and job description the first day and rarely have to get approval before posting content on their social media accounts, sending pitch letters, or creating proposals and campaign ideas.

To say the least, this was a bit of a culture shock at the beginning.

Now that I’m close to finishing my fifth week interning, I can appreciate the benefits that come with interning in a foreign country and how much I have grown professionally from doing so. In my opinion, here are the three major benefits of interning abroad:

Disclaimer: There are many, many more benefits that can come from interning abroad, just ask anyone that’s traveled or worked in a foreign country, but for the sake of not making this post 12 pages long, I picked the three big ones!

IMMERSING YOURSELF IN THE CULTURE- When traveling to a foreign country it’s easy to feel like a tourist no matter how hard you try to hide it. When interning and working in a foreign country you learn much more than you would when just visiting different sites or meeting people at restaurants. You learn about the society’s working culture, the daily life of citizens, and what it’s actually like to live in that country – not just the planned routes for tourists to see.

RESUME BUILDER- We’d all be lying if we didn’t say that an important part of receiving an internship is being able to put it on your resume. An internship abroad not only allows you to add a location outside of the U.S. to your resume, but it also allows you to add numerous different skills that aren’t limited to your professional experience. Having to communicate with coworkers whose first language may not be English and learning the norms of your dream job in a city outside of the U.S. not only adds to your professional experience, but showcases your character as well.

KNOWLEDGE AND GROWTH- As I previously said, internships aren’t common in Israel, and I’m sure they aren’t as common in most of the world as they are in the U.S. Because of this I’ve learned more than I could have possibly imagined. I’ve learned how to use a storytelling strategy on social media, lead workshops, and pitch articles and campaigns to various clients. However, I’ve also learned more practical skills. I can effectively communicate my ideas and suggestions to non-native English speakers, stand up for the ideas that I truly believe in, and gain new perspectives from my co-workers that come from a completely different background.

As I said in my disclaimer, I could go on for days about the benefits of interning abroad. The knowledge, growth and experience you gain from just being abroad in general is multiplied when receiving an internship and immersing yourself fully in a different culture. If given the opportunity, accepting an internship abroad is a must!



Moving Mountains: Making Interning Abroad a Reality

IMG_0490I’ve always been the type of person with a plan, and when I mapped out everything freshman year,  I put interning abroad on my list the summer after sophomore year. Yes, I actually picked a summer and had an idea of where I wanted to go. At first I thought London because I’ve always wanted to go and there are numerous PR agencies. However, London was crossed off when I looked at the price and then I thought, ‘Dublin is nearby and they speak English; perfect!’

Here I am in Dublin for the summer interning for Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, a member of the 31st Dáil. According to my mother, mountains were moved for me to have this experience and I couldn’t be more grateful. For all of you aspiring to intern abroad, here are the mountains you will need to move in order to make your internship abroad a reality:

Mountain 1: Solo or Program? I chose to go with the IEP/CIS Abroad program, which I am a little bit dissatisfied with at the moment, but don’t let that deter you. It is not unheard of or impossible to find your internship abroad alone. It might even be the best option for you, as it is less costly and it’ll show you are determined to make it happen. I have met other interns who are using similar programs and are in large groups, but I chose to do the independent program within my program. There are a million options but only one is right for you. Think of choosing the option like you would a pair of shoes that would be glued to your feet for the entire summer.

Mountain 2: Landing the internship. Like any internship search, this can be the difficult part. Update your resume, fit it to the companies or agencies you are applying to and just grin and bear it as you wait. I was offered a spot at an agency first, but it didn’t fit me. If you are the least bit hesitant, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth the money you are spending or your time if it doesn’t feel like a match. I was worried because my program said, “now since you turned down your first option, placement isn’t guaranteed.” I am very lucky that I was able to get an internship in Parliament, let alone with my boss who has allowed me responsibilities not many interns are given. I have wrote press releases three weeks in and I’m advising my boss on how to increase media recognition. It may seem daunting because I’m only a junior in college and I don’t have years upon years of experience, but an internship is supposed to be a learning opportunity, not getting your boss coffee; remember that.

Mountain 3: How am I going to pay for this? Being such a planner I thought I had this all sorted. I was going to get a private student loan so my parents didn’t have to bother and it was all going to be said and done, no worries. I shouldn’t ever deal with money; that’s what I’ve learned from this process. If you go with a program things are due in advance and if you don’t pay them, too bad no internship for you. Look at all the financial options and ask tons of questions; no question is a dumb question in the world of money, loans, etc. Do your research and look at every due date in your program (if you use one) and all due dates for wherever you are living. When it comes to money, some places don’t care about your situation, they just want to be paid.

Mountain 4: Getting there. You’ve landed your internship and all you have to do is book your flight. Remember to register with the state department, so they know where you are. Call your credit card company because your card can be rejected if you don’t tell them you are going to a foreign country and try to use it. Make sure your passport is up-to-date and current; if you need one get it way in advance, same for renewals. Pack your bags and you are ready to go! Remember, this will be scary and you may freak out but take a deep breath because you are about to have the adventure of a lifetime.

When it comes to making all of this a reality I really advise asking questions. Whoever has interned abroad will more than likely be happy to talk about it and give you advice. I may not be very satisfied with my specific program, but I love my internship and the amazing people I have met. This truly is an experience you will never regret or forget; I can guarantee it. There’s one last thing I want you to remember when doing this: it may be expensive, scary, nerve-racking, headache-inducing and seemingly impossible, but it’s not. If you are determined and really put your mind to it and try, you can make your dream to intern abroad a reality. You have four years in college; spend them wisely.    

-Kelly Hayes is a junior strategic communications major with a specialization in German and a Global Leadership Certificate. Follow her time in Ireland at @kmshayes.