International work experience

Working abroad, whether for a whole year, your summer vacation or even a couple of weeks can be an extremely enriching and rewarding experience.

Employers look for candidates with a global mindset – that is those with cultural awareness and appreciation and an ability to work and engage with people from other countries. They also look for adaptability and flexibility and undertaking an international experience can give you this.

Finding international opportunities

If you are looking to undertake work experience abroad, here are some resources you might find helpful when searching for opportunities.

  • GoinGlobal is a resource, provided by the University, which helps you explore opportunities around the world, research the job market and find vacancies in your chosen country. It offers access to millions of jobs and internships abroad, with the option to sign up for instant updates on new opportunities matching your search criteria. It has over 120 location specific careers guides, and advice on making culturally correct applications, where you will also be able to find information on the cultural etiquette in the workplace of your chosen country.
  • The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, offering a variety of programmes to allow UK-based students and graduates the opportunity to study, work or volunteer abroad. It is an executive non-departmental public body which supports peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide.
  • Some of the more popular jobs boards for finding work experience opportunities in the UK may also be advertising jobs and internships abroad. Some examples include Prospects, LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed and Monster.

Fee-based internship providers

Fee-based Internship Programs are services offered by private organisations that charge a fee to organise internships for their customers, and these are usually abroad and unpaid with some providers also offering virtual opportunities. The tasks performed by students should either be primarily observational or purely benefitting the student gaining practical experience. The work undertaken by the student should not assist the host of the internship with work activities that raise revenue.

To search for these types of opportunities, you can visit GoOverseas.com and GoAbroad.com, both of which are external websites advertising programmes that have not been vetted by the University of Birmingham. We would advise you to research these programmes thoroughly before deciding to sign on to ensure you are receiving a high-quality experience from a reputable and reliable provider.

We have compiled a list of questions below to support your research into your chosen internship provider, with the advice to explore any other factors that may be relevant to your individual circumstances. 

Due Diligence questions

General due diligence

  • Have you researched the organisation and their activities thoroughly?
  • Do you know the timeline of your experience and the likeliness of this changing closer to the time?
  • Do you have the details of the in-country organisation hosting you on the experience? Have you checked the government travel advice for the country you are planning to travel to?
  • Have you received enough information about your internship roles, including expectations and potential challenges? Will you be expected to produce a piece of work and will this benefit the organisation financially in any way?
  • Do you know what support you will receive from the organisation prior to going on the experience? Are they organising any of the details for your experience, such as accommodation, airport transfers, translators etc.?
  • Do know what support you will receive from the organisation during the experience? Is there clear information on how you can raise issues and ask questions throughout, as well as your options for terminating the internship early should you wish to? 

Legal due diligence

  • What legal entity are they intending to work for? Are they well established? 
  • What has the organisation said about insurance? Do they confirm there will be insurance in place?
  • What are the visa requirements?
  • What are the immunisation requirements?
  • What is the Covid-19 protocol?
  • Is there a written contract in place confirming the rights and obligations of both parties? Have you read it carefully?
  • Are you comfortable with any requests that have been made for disclosure of personal data? Is it necessary and relevant? 

Financial due diligence

  • Are you aware of all the fees involved and at what point in the application process these are required? Are you required to pay a deposit and is this refundable?
  • Are fees in GBP£ or local currency and what exchange rate will be used?
  • Is there a cooling off period?
  • What is their policy on cancelling the opportunities and refunds?
  • Are their fees in line with other internship providers? If their fee is much higher, have you challenged this with the internship provider and do you know what other options you have available?

Reputational due diligence

  • Have you read reviews from previous students on an external platform that is different to the provider’s website? Glassdoor is one of the most popular review websites in the UK, but you may find other websites, like RateMyPlacement, which have reviews sections.
  • Have you explored any information available about this provider and other people’s experience with them on any external forums/discussion boards?
  • Have you reached out to your UoB alumni community to find someone who could tell you more about being on this particular experience?

Recognising that these opportunities may be suitable for some of our students, Careers Network offers any support required from our students in relation to taking part in a fee-based internship programme. You can access this support from your dedicated College Careers Team either by booking an appointment or sending us an email enquiry.

Study abroad opportunities

Why not make the most of your time abroad by undertaking work experience in your host country. As an exchange student, you should be able to access the employability services at your host university. Once you have settled into your new environment, reach out to your local careers team for advice on how to find work experience while you’re there.

And don’t forget you can still access all our services remotely while you are abroad, including booking a virtual appointment with your dedicated Internships Officer for further support.

For more information on undertaking a year or semester abroad, please see our Study Abroad and Exchanges page, and the My Global Story Canvas page.

Funding opportunities and further guidance

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