Are you passionate about travelling and living abroad? Do you want to leave your comfort zone and experience something new, get inspired by life, and create memories that will last a lifetime? Are your looking for an internship, exchange, or a job abroad but not sure where to start?
I was sitting in this exact sit just a few years back. Knowing that I want to experience the world but not knowing how to get it. If you’d like to read about my motivation then check out Why I travel and How You Could Too.
Because I tend to be quite organised I never wanted to just leave without having a proper plan or a purpose. And so I’ve always looked for cool volunteering or interning opportunities abroad. I was especially looking for place where I felt like I could make an impact. Months upon months of searching and applying to different postings have introduced me to many different sites. These sites offer terrific opportunities that I now want to share with you to hopefully ease the process a bit. This article is especially directed towards those of you attending high school, college, and recent graduates. But broader than that, this be useful to anyone trying to navigate through the variety of offers available online.
AIESEC is the biggest international student organisation in the world with a mission to empower young people to become the leaders of tomorrow. They do so in two basic ways, firstly by having people join and run the organisation. Secondly, they do so by organising and facilitating international exchanges. AIESEC has a platform called the Opportunities Portal where you can find global volunteering or professional opportunities. Volunteering is normally not paid (although accommodation and a meal per day are usually provided) and is commonly connected with social causes and the SDGs. Professional opportunities, on the other hand, can provide a basic salary, depending on the company. The benefit of going on an exchange program with AIESEC is its size. This organisation can be found in 127 countries and territories worldwide. This means that no matter where in the world you’d like to go to, AIESEC members will help make your transition as comfortable as possible. They’ll have your back, show you around, and introduce you to cool places and people.
Are you looking for something similar to AIESEC but come from more of a technical or scientific field? Then definitely check out IAESTE.
2. Youth Hop
This is one of my personal favourite sites on finding international opportunities. Through Youth Hop, I’ve found and gotten opportunities such as a summer school for entrepreneurial young people and an internship as a writer. I’ve also applied for internships and jobs at organisations like the World Food Program, World Bank and United Nations (I didn’t get it but still very cool). The best thing is that they have at least 10 new posts every week. This makes it super easy to find something to get excited about, especially for those of you ready to immerse to the international sphere.
3. Pay Your Intern
Pay Your Intern Foundation is another great platform that, as the name suggests, focuses mainly on paid internships. Even more, they also post about jobs, scholarships, youth programs, and education courses. The majority of their posts is related to work in international development and in smaller as well as in major organisations, such as the Red Cross and United Nations.
Idealist is another site connected to the development sector, offering opportunities around the globe. Besides jobs, internships and volunteering, you can also search for upcoming events and organisations in your area.
5. Go Abroad
Go Abroad also seems like another useful site as it offers a number of internships abroad for all nationalities. As this is simply a directory, there seems to be no fee involved for using the website and there’s a lot of incredible opportunities to search for. On GoAbroad you’ll find opportunities like Forestry and Wildlife Conservation in Madagascar, Work and Travel in Austalia, and Teach English in China (and if this is something that excites you, definitely read about my First Steps of Teaching English in China).
6. Work Away
Work Away is a great option for international opportunities not connected to your educational level. Although they don’t provide internships, they have offers from around the world. This is perfect for all of you open-minded and free-spirited individuals that want to travel but are unsure on how to finance your trip. With Work Away you can pretty much search for whatever city you’re interested in. You’ll then work for a local business owners who need some help. You’ll find things like working at a hostel, taking care of animals, working on a sailboat, social media promotion,… In exchange you’ll get food, accommodation and sometimes even a little paycheck for your work. Unfortunately, the site has recenlty started charging for a yearly account (30 $ per person). However, if you’re thinking about backpacking this is probably the best way (besides CouchSurfing) to travel, meet the locals, and stretch your money.
StudentsGoAbroad is an agency that helps out students to find volunteer and internship opportunities nad language courses abroad. There’s a fee of approximately $1,000 (sometimes more) which will cover their support of you going to your country of preference. It includes pre-arrival arrangements between the organisation or company and the student and support during your stay.
There are also many similar websites that act sort of like an internship agency that will guide you through the whole process of working in another country. Personally I don’t really like programs where young people have to pay to work. I’m also against unpaid internships but that’s a whole other issue. Here, at least you’re paying for their service and support.
iAgora is a great internship search engine mostly for students in university, but it also provides information on universities and language courses. If an internship is what you’re after, simply enter your desired location and see numerous opportunities pop up. The reason why I always liked using iAgora is the simpleness of it. You won’t need to spend hours of searching through different sites, writing cover letters, and filling out endless forms with your background information. On iAgora you simply enter your name, attach a CV, and you’re done! Now all you need to do is wait for an answer. The downside of this site is that there are certain jobs that you can only see with a paid account.
If start-ups are what you’re after, definitely also create a profile on AngelList. Although mostly focusing on jobs in the start-up world, there’s also plenty of internships to look through. These companies tend to be small and at the start of their journey. This means you could be a part of the success story of a new and innovative company, that is if they don’t crash and fail.
LinkedIn is such a useful tool today if you know how to use it. First of all, make sure your profile is complete and that you have connections and endorsements of your skills. Then simply click on the search bar and choose jobs. Enter the type of job or internship you’re looking for, a location and scroll through the different opportunities offered. It’s a bit similar to iAgora in the sense that again there are no long application forms. You simply attach your CV and cover letter and your application is good to go. The biggest difference between LinkedIn and iAgora is that LinkedIn usually features bigger companies and brands, while you can also find plenty of start-ups on iAgora.
Finally, if all else fail you can also use more common resources such as Glassdoor, Indeed, and a plain Google search. And don’t forget to get in touch with the career office and alumni network of your university. They just might just open new doors for you, especially if you’d like to stay in academia.