Want to travel next Summer, but worried about finding a job? Why intern abroad through York International in Summer 2019! York International works with a wide variety of organizations around the globe to give you the chance to get real-world work experience in a new culture with new people!
An Interview with a Student Who Has Interned Abroad
One of the best ways to learn about an opportunity is to speak with someone who has experienced it themselves. Today we’re going to hear about interning abroad from one of our very own York University Lions, Madelaine Pries!
Madelaine Pries is a fourth-year English and Professional Writing major who interned abroad this past Summer in Kasana, Uganda as a Communications Coordinator at Shanti Uganda. Shanti Uganda is a maternal and infant health centre working to help reduce maternal mortality in Uganda. While in Uganda, Madelaine learned about and gained experience in digital communications and marketing in the non-governmental organization (NGO) field!
Lauren Dick [LD]: What made you want to intern abroad? Is this your first time interning abroad? If not, where else have you interned?
Madelaine Pries [MP]: I worked a summer in England a few years ago and spent a couple months “volunteering” in Peru, but this was my first time in a more professional position. I wanted to intern abroad because I loved my past experiences, and I knew that working in a different country and culture offered a kind of work and learning experience you just can’t get in your own country. It’s as much about opening your mind and personal development as it is about professional development.
LD: How did you learn about these opportunities?
MP: York International had set up a booth in the library for their internships. I got to talk with a couple people who had done an internship abroad, and they pointed me to all the opportunities York International offers.
LD: Was interning abroad in Kasana, Uganda as a Communications Coordinator your first choice? If not, what other opportunities interested you?
MP: To be honest, it wasn’t originally my first or second choice, but the more I learned about Shanti Uganda and living in Uganda, the more I knew I wanted to intern with them. I am so, so grateful it is where I ended up going! The other positions I was interested in were also communications positions, one with the Child Protection Hub in Hungary, and another with the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services in St. Kitts.
LD: What resources were available to you that supported you as you interned abroad (e.g. financial, academic, professional, etc.)?
MP: Fortunately, York International provides all international interns with the York International Internship Award, a $3,000 award to help offset some travel costs. They are also available to answer emails and provide advice during the internship, as well as to check in if they hear of issues for which a student may require additional support. Shanti was also very supportive in helping me settle in and feel comfortable in my new role and home for the summer, as well as in providing me with trip ideas and answering any questions I had.
LD: What was the biggest difference between interning abroad and interning at home?
MP: Interning at home does give you professional skills, but it is largely limited to that portion of your life. You learn while on the job, but always within the same Canadian cultural context that you are already used to.
Interning abroad is much more of a holistic learning experience that includes professional, personal and social aspects much more than interning at home might. You are immersed in “new-ness:” everything is a learning experience. You are invited into another culture where everything from the language and tone of speech and conversation to peoples’ gestures and mannerisms and behaviours, how and when and what they eat, how they socialize and value family, friends and life, could be very different from what you are used to. Trying to adapt opens your mind to living in a different way and understanding people and situations you never knew about. It causes you to re-evaluate things about yourself, like how you present yourself, what you believe and prejudices you might not have known you had.
LD: What would you say to other people who want to intern abroad? What tips would you give them?
MP: DO IT! Don’t let it be one of those things you’ll end up regretting not having done in the future. My experiences interning abroad have without a doubt shaped me as a person and greatly influenced the course of my life in the most positive way.
Also, take initiative. The experience is truly what you make it, and no one can make you open up to learning experiences but you. If you seize as many opportunities as you can, both at work and in travelling, your experience and what you take away will be so much richer.
Lastly, bring SO MUCH SUNCREEN! And use it!
LD: What is your biggest takeaway from this experience (e.g. personal, academic, professional, etc.)?
MP: Professionally, I took away new skills and an understanding of what working in digital communications for an NGO (non-governmental organization) is like. I was given a lot of independence and responsibility that allowed me to practise what I have been taught about digital communications and content creation in school and to see how actually applying that knowledge worked or needed amending in the real world. It has also once again changed my ideas of what I’d like to do post-university for a career.
My biggest take-away personally is like every time I go abroad: I learn a lot about my own ignorance and blind spots. I hope I become a little less ignorant and a little more open-minded in the process.
Okay, one more: I took away some truly amazing friendships.
LD: Would you ever intern abroad again?
MP: 100% absolutely positively yes.
Want to Intern Abroad?
If you are interested in interning abroad, check out York International’s Global Internships webpage for information about eligibility requirements, where you can work, how you can apply and when you can leave to intern abroad! If you want to speak with someone in person, you can attend one of the many Global Internships Information Sessions— there’s one coming up on November 14 at 10 am!
With all of these amazing benefits and resources at your fingertips, why not intern abroad?
If you have any questions about interning abroad, please leave a comment below or tweet us at @YorkUStudents.