Internships abroad make students more attractive to employers

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jeanette Tang | Daily Texan Staff

Finance junior Luke Jenison was looking for a way to fit a summer study abroad program into his four-year college plan, but it didn’t seem possible until he found his solution — interning abroad.

“In the business school, there’s such a pressure to get internships over the summer that I was hesitant to dedicate a summer to go abroad,” said Jenison, who interned in Barcelona last summer. “(With interning abroad), you get good work experience and you can go abroad.”

UT’s International Internship Program helps students gain full-time internship experiences in cities such as Barcelona, Shanghai and Singapore for either an eight- or 12-week summer semester.

Internships abroad set students apart in job applications, said Amy Shaffer, assistant director of study abroad initiatives at the UT International Office.

“No matter what, when an employer sees (international internships) on a resume for a student, that’s one of the first questions they ask,” Shaffer said. “It sets somebody apart … because it shows they were willing to go outside their comfort zone.”

Shaffer said she has seen a recent trend in interested students who seek international internships to improve their chances at domestic internships and jobs.

UT alumna Sonia Montejano interned in Singapore in 2015 and currently works at Cleary Gottlieb, a New York law firm. Although Montejano does not have a law degree, she was able to get her job through a connection with a former coworker in Singapore. 

“I graduated and I already had this job lined up and I’m financially independent now in a way that I didn’t think I would be for awhile after college,” Montejano said. “That’s because I took that step and made it a point to network and talk to people.”

Jenison said his internship abroad experience has helped him in job interviews.

“Usually, if I’m in an interview … they definitely ask about it and they’re usually like, ‘Oh, Barcelona? That’s really cool,’” Jenison said. “They’re just interested, and it makes it easy for a more casual conversation rather than very formal, which is always good.”

Despite the valuable lessons students can learn interning abroad, this experience is not for everyone and can have a challenging adjustment period, Shaffer said.

“Whatever image you have in your mind about what this experience will look like, it’s going to look anything but that,” Shaffer said. “Even getting off the plane and finding your way to your accommodations is a big challenge to overcome, but it instills confidence.”