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Need Inspiration? Be an International Intern. It’s Easier Than You Think.

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praha study trip abroad
Melissa Chan, a JSOM senior, won Honorable Mention in the in the recent UT Dallas Education Abroad Photo Contest for her photo of the Praha, Slovakia, streets.

Inspiring Creativity with a Study Trip Abroad

Sometime around sophomore or junior year, many college students hit what some call a wall, others might call a rut. Boredom sets in. And doubt. And lack of enthusiasm. One cure for this feeling of ennui might be as simple and as complicated — as going away while still in school. A study trip abroad can inspire creativity and entrepreneurial fervor. Tom Henderson, Jindal School assistant dean for undergraduate programs, says for those interested in expanding their horizons, one path would be participating in an internship in another country.

There are caveats, said Sarah Henry, undergraduate student services coordinator at the Jindal School. Most international internships are unpaid positions. And to get the most of the experience, she said, being bilingual is important. At minimum, a participant should have a working knowledge of the language.

But not being paid and not being fluent shouldn’t alone dissuade someone from pursuing this idea, she said.

Tips to Find an International Placement

Henry said there are three typical methods for JSOM students to find an international placement and these would, for the most part, work for anyone wanting to experience commerce in another culture.

  1. Family or friends who already are living abroad. Henry says for those who truly are interested in learning about business and startups in another nation, this might be the best way to locate a compatible placement. Family or family friends also might be willing to help with housing arrangements and simple life issues — like the best place to wash your clothes or visit the doctor.
  2. For JSOM students, she suggests you also visit with the campus AIESEC chapter. AIESEC, which originally was an acronym for Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales, helps match undergraduate and graduate students with international opportunities. Students might work with a not-for-profit or a non-governmental organization (NGO), or they could be placed with a company. AIESEC claims to match up to 20,000 young people annually with an international opportunity.
  3. Another option is to go through one of the myriad third-party companies that match people wanting an international internship with openings abroad. UT Dallas works with Connect-123, but there are many similar companies. Several Jindal School students this summer will be heading to Dublin, Ireland, with Connect-123.

“You need to think about what you want to get from it,” said Henderson, who also is director of the Jindal School’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree program. He said every student he has ever talked with, upon their return from an international internship, has been impacted and inspired.

If you can’t afford — either in time or money — to spend an entire semester abroad, consider joining a faculty-led study trip. JSOM has conducted more than 35 faculty-led foreign study trips in 16 countries over the past 15 years. Most recently, these faculty-led trips have visited Japan, Ethiopia and Chile. And you can apply for scholarships to help pay fees.

“In general, [students] absolutely love the experience. It’s life changing,” Henderson said. “They gain a global mindset from their experience.” And from a career perspective, he said, “in a lot of cases, it confirms their goals and desires.”    

Jeanne Spreier

Jeanne is a writer and editor who has worked in JSOM's External Affairs for more than seven years. She is also mother of three college-age kids who were born and raised in Dallas, and gets a lot of her Dallas know-how from them. On any given day, she would rather be outside somewhere. She earned her communications degree from the University of Kentucky. Read more articles

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