A 20 year old student from Mumbai decided to do an internship it wasn’t a regular run of the mill job. Over a period of five weeks, he familiarized himself with the Nobel Prize winning microfinance model. He worked extensively on a project where Bangladeshi officers who were stranded in Assam were helped to return home.
Internships have become an important element of a student’s education, today. Realizing that learning in the classroom isn’t enough, students are venturing outwards. Providing a twist to the conventional idea of an internship are various offbeat global internships. Political science student Ami Shah spent eight months interning with the United Nations agency UNESCO. IT was truly an enriching experience. It changed my world view entirely made me a global citizen so to speak. Despite the fact that the internship was unpaid, the experience was deeply satisfying. We were exposed to on field operations as well as desk work and logistical functions. While a corporate operates with a profit motive, the UNESCO is dedicated to changing lives. Obviously the attitude and learning is different’
Far from opting for cushy internships in familiar countries, today’s students are treading the unconventional path. The edgier and more exotic the better it seems. A student from New Delhi did his internship in what is supposedly one of the most politically volatile nations in the world, through the student organization AISEC. Landing in Columbia, was a language illiterate student who didn’t know what to expect. Over the next year, I did my technical internship at the Universidad de La Sabana in Bogota. I worked as technical assistant in the department of foreign languages and cultures. A Dusija who is currently with Harvard Business School, interned with the telecom multinational Alcatel-Lucent in Paris for one year, also through AISEC. I worked with the global corporate HR team. Though it is different from working in India it doesn’t take long to adjust.
Global internships combine of professional and international experiences. The biggest benefit of my internship was that I learnt Spanish from native speakers. I met interesting people, understood a new culture and traveled an entire continent, The Amazons, Pacific Ocean and equator. I have become big fan of Latin music and can even do some salsa! For Guha the internship was close to his heart for reasons more than one. My family is originally from Bangladesh but I have never visited there. Global internship can help students discover careers options that they may not have been exposed to otherwise. Working with UNESCO helped me decide that it was a master’s in international relations that I wanted to pursue. I would like to work with an international organization in the future…
Learn the Logistics
To maximize learning, it is important to perfectly plan a global internship. The student should be ready to take up the challenge. A stint after graduation would be a probably be a good time. The length of the internship should also be considered carefully. While longer internships allow better learning, the cost factor of living in a different country with little or no salary needs to be considered. Moreover, very long stints could get monotonous or tiring.
Applying for internship positions at international agencies is a highly competitive process. Additionally students must fulfill certain criteria that are set in place by very organization. The UN, for example, requires its interns to be students currently they must return to studying on completion of their internship. Additionally, interns should hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Fields of education may also be specified. The International Court of Justice requires a degree in law, while the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) requires the intern to be studying a development relations, economics, sociology , anthropology and environmental studies. Good language skills are a must.
The starting point for a successful internship is interest in the organization and its areas of operation. Reveals Guha, I was fascinated by the model of the bank. It is impressive how they have changed the lives of so many women. This interest made me a dedicated intern.
It is important to be open minded and non judgmental. Indians tend to carry a lot of cultural baggage. This defeats the purpose of as global experience. Students must remember that norms at the workplace vary among cultures. However, politeness and dedication transcend all boundaries. Equipped with global experiences the world is a sandbox for these students!