Internships Abroad

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European Internships: How to Apply Successfully

If you’re searching for a way to explore the world while advancing your future career then an internship in Europe during your gap year is the perfect opportunity. Internships overseas offer you a chance to grow at a personal and professional level, allowing you to immerse yourself in a new culture as well as gaining valuable work experience at the same time. In today’s competitive job market, an internship abroad can help enhance your resumé and set you apart from other candidates.

But how do you get an internship in Europe? We’ve compiled 20 practical tips that will make the process much easier and increase your chances of landing an internship overseas.

Find your internship
Prepare your applications
Get ready for the interview

Internship Abroad: How to Find Your Ideal Internship Position

Make time for self-reflection

Before you start searching, the most useful thing you can do is to define your personal goals. Ask yourself a series of questions that will help define what type of internship you’re looking for. Think about the field you’d like to work in and what talents or passions you’d like to cultivate. Taking time to answer these questions will help you narrow down your options and find internship opportunities that match your interests, goals and personality.

Research your favorite location

Close your eyes and think about where you see yourself during your gap year; if you have your heart set on a particular European destination then you already know where to start your search. Otherwise, it’s worth doing some research on which destinations appeal most to you and best suit your talents. For example, if business is your passion, then looking at Europe’s biggest financial hubs—think London, Frankfurt, or Milan—might be the best places to find your ideal placement.

Take advantage of your local resources

High schools and universities often have connections with institutes and companies, sometimes even at an international level. So before you start scouring the internet, it might be a good idea to ask your counselor or career advisor if they are aware of internship opportunities in Europe.

Use European portals and social networks

If you didn’t have any luck with your counselors, your next option is to search for opportunities online. Online portals list and compare internship opportunities throughout Europe and allow you to filter by location, education level and languages.

Keep your options open

To increase your chances of getting an internship, it is advisable to keep your options open and apply to multiply vacancies.

How to Apply for a Gap Year Internship in Europe

Now that you’ve found some interesting internship positions, you’re ready to start preparing your applications. Here’s how you can make your application stand out.

Be organized

Applying for multiple opportunities means going through various application processes, rules, documents, and deadlines. With lots to think about it’s crucial to stay organized from the beginning; a spreadsheet with a list of the vacancies including all the details (country, requirements, deadlines, attachments) is a smart way to keep track of your applications.

Pick the right language

As a rule of thumb, the application should be written in the language the job advertisement is in or in the employer’s national language—if you are fluent. Regardless, make sure to explain your qualifications and convert your grades to the country’s system for clarity.

Write an appealing CV

While the resumé prevails in the US, the curriculum vitae (CV) is the preferred application document in Europe. Where a resumé is a concise overview of the candidate’s skills and accomplishments, a CV provides a detailed list of your work history, education, and achievements (such as publications, research, awards, etc.) and should be no more than two pages long.

Add an application photo

In most European countries, it is common to include a professional application photo in your CV. Although it’s usually not mandatory, a CV with a photo provides a more complete representation of the candidate and helps to make a more personal connection with the recruiter. Still, there’s no general rule across Europe, as in the U.K. anti-discrimination and labor laws prevent companies from requesting a personal photo.

Attention to detail is key

In Europe, CV formats vary widely from country to country. To make sure your CV is correct, you need to follow the right layout for the country your applying in and pay attention to certain details. For example, in Germany, CVs need to be signed and dated at the bottom, whereas in Italy, CVs typically contain more personal information such as date of birth, marital status and nationality.

Prepare documents

Depending on where you are applying to, you might be required to send copies of your degree certificates, language certifications, letters of recommendation or other documents alongside your CV. In some cases, you might need to provide a translation of these documents, too.

Include a cover letter

Writing an appealing cover letter is crucial if you want to stand out. Use this letter to emphasize your enthusiasm for the position and explain the reasons behind your decision of spending your gap year as an intern.

Customize your applications

Tailor each application to the country, company, and job you are applying to. This means that your cover letter and CV should highlight specific qualifications, skills, and relevant experiences for the desired placement.

Be open about your visa status

If you want to intern longer than 90 days, you will need to obtain a visa. In order to apply for this document, your future employer must complete the necessary paperwork. Be aware that this process might take some time so don’t leave out this information in your application.

Ask a native speaker to check your application

Before clicking the submit button, check your grammar, spelling, and writing style. It’s always a good idea to ask someone else to proofread it. If you are applying in a foreign language, ask a native speaker—or at least somebody who is fluent in that language—to look over your application.

After the Application: Prepare for an Interview in Europe

Congratulations, you’ve got an interview! If you’re not in the same country then you will most likely have the interview via phone or video conference call. The rules for a long-distance interview are the same as for a regular one; be well-prepared and show your motivation. In order to succeed, you should also consider the following aspects.

Double-check the time zone

Before accepting the appointment for your interview, consider the time difference between you and your potential employer. To avoid misunderstandings, make sure to specify your local time and their local time in the email.

Find out the language

In order to avoid unwanted surprises, find out which language the interview will be conducted in prior to it taking place. If it’s not your native language, take some time to practice with an instructor or a friend who is fluent in that language.

Pick the right place for your interview

Choose a quiet place where you’re alone and feel at ease. If you’re interviewed via video conference, make sure your background is tidy and appropriate. This will not only show that you took the time to properly prepare but will also help you focus during the interview.

Dress for the occasion

A professional appearance is essential for a good first impression (yes, even if you’re being interviewed over the phone). For a video call, your attire should be neat and professional so make sure to dress as if you were attending an in-person interview—at least from the waist up!

Secure your connection

Test your equipment before the interview, do a test run to practice and make sure that your internet connection is stable, the webcam works, and the microphone is connected. Technical problems shouldn’t stand in the way of your success.

European Internships: Conclusion

Interning in Europe during your gap year can enhance your resumé and improve your future job prospects. Although finding the right internship overseas requires dedication and time, stepping out of your comfort zone to follow your dreams is definitely worth it. Follow our tips to make your application shine and you'll soon be on your way to your first internship day!

Organizing a Gap Year Step by Step

Before you embark on your adventure, you should consider the practicalities of planning a gap year in Europe. Firstly, you should figure out what your goals are and how you want to spend your year abroad. Afterward, you should choose a destination, plan your finances, transportation, and accommodation and gather all the necessary documents.

Traveling for Your Gap Year

If wanderlust is your main motivation for taking some time off, consider exploring Europe before starting your work or study obligations. Whether you want to explore historic town centers, visit bustling modern cities or simply enjoy nature, you’ll surely find a trip that’s just right for you.

Volunteering During Your Gap Year

If you are interested in traveling and making a difference in the world at the same time, you should consider volunteering abroad. Whether you decide to teach English, help reforestation or work with refugees – volunteering abroad will be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. You’ll have the chance to have a meaningful impact and give something back to the local communities.

The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year

A gap year acts as a time-out—traditionally taken in between or after studies—to recharge and prepare for your next steps in life. For young Americans, taking a gap year is rapidly gaining popularity; some schools encourage their students to make time for self development. One of the ways to do this is by taking a gap year. Look at the advantages of taking a gap year and consider all the possibilities.

Gap Year in Europe: Most Popular cities in Europe

Between demanding studies and a competitive job market, more and more young Americans decide to hit the pause button for a little while. Traveling, volunteering, or interning during a gap year can give you the much-needed time to recharge your batteries and develop valuable skills. Spending some time whilst on your gap year is a great opportunity working out what you want to do in life. Take a look at our comprehensive guide on planning a memorable gap year in Europe and start planning you adventure abroad.