I’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.