Internships abroad – gaining international experience in the workplace

What advantages does an internship abroad offer you?

Employers like to see that you have completed internships because they show that you already have some professional experience. And you’re in an even stronger position if you have completed an internship abroad. Internships abroad give you insights into corporate cultures in foreign countries and allow you to develop an intercultural understanding – and that in various career paths and industries. But how do you find a suitable internship abroad and can you expect to be paid for it? In this article, we focus on internships abroad in the area of business administration, management, business psychology and international business.

What advantages does an internship abroad offer me?

An internship abroad represents a great head-start as you begin your career, and you can take a lot from it for your personal development too.

An internship abroad offers you the following advantages:

  • You gain vital professional experience. It gives you a first impression of the industry and of day-to-day working life. You learn on a global level.
  • Be it Spanish, French or Chinese – you can improve your knowledge of foreign languages.
  • Through the international exchange, you develop your intercultural competencies and learn to see the bigger picture.
  • You acquire extensive knowledge of country-specific markets.
  • You can build an international network that could be of help when you later come to choose a job.
  • An internship abroad is often an important criterium for future employers, and looks good on a CV and in applications.

How can I find an internship abroad?

As a general rule, you can complete an internship abroad related to business administration or economics in any country. However, due to their great popularity among students, internships abroad are not always easy to find. But your university will be able to help you with that in many cases. At WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, the Career Center will support you in your search for the perfect internship placement. Numerous events on the campus help put you in touch with companies that also operate abroad. WHU also has an internal job and internship database with a large number of internship positions around the world. Last year, more than 70% of Bachelor students and more than 80% of Master students at WHU completed their internships at companies that had advertised their positions via the WHU database or that had taken part in events such as the on-campus careers fair.

There are also agencies that can help you find internships abroad. However, in most cases you will have to pay a substantial fee to the agency that helps you find an internship. It can therefore pay off to do some internet research – there are plenty of online platforms that allow you to search for placements for free. We recommend the following website: https://www.meinpraktikum.de/ratgeber/auslandspraktikum. On that website you’ll find a large database of open positions for your internship abroad as well as general information and country-specific advice on the application process and particularities relating to your internship in the various countries.

Will I be paid for an internship abroad?

Paid internships are not uncommon these days. However, with internships abroad in particular, it can be difficult to cover your living costs on an internship salary. After all, you need to pay for your travel costs, accommodation and food. It is important to find out in advance about the cost of living in your country of choice so that you can establish how much you’ll have to invest to cover your costs. Shorter internships lasting a few weeks often provide interns with an expenses allowance – a set amount of money – instead of a salary. Longer internships over several months are usually better paid. You can expect to be paid between €400 and €1000 per month on an internship with a focus on business administration or management. However, it all depends on the economic situation of the respective countries and the size of the company.

How long does an internship abroad last?

The duration of an internship abroad often depends on how the internship is integrated into the degree scheme.

For example, Bachelor courses at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management allow at least four weeks for internships. That gives you enough time to find your feet in the company and apply what you have already learned during your studies. Many students choose to extend the internship to at least eight weeks in order to gain even more experience.

On Master courses, in contrast, six weeks are allocated for internships, with an option to extend. This differs slightly from university to university.

You can, of course, also complete voluntary internships abroad outside term time or after graduating. In that case you have greater flexibility in terms of duration, and can apply for internships lasting from three to six months.

What internships abroad are offered at WHU?

Interested in an internship abroad? At WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, you are required to complete two mandatory internships as part of the Bachelor in International Business Administration and of the Bachelor in Business Psychology, of which one must be in a non-German-speaking country. Your first internship is completed after the second semester and the second internship after the fourth semester. This optimally prepares students for professional life in a company and, as an added benefit, allows them to get to know different cultures and ways of working. An internship in Germany or abroad is also firmly anchored in the curriculum of our Master of Science programs, which means you needn’t worry about how to fit an internship abroad into your study schedule.

WHU cultivates an extensive network of partners and has been working with a number of companies for many years. In 2019, for example, companies such as Accenture Strategy, A.T. Kearney, BASF, Beiersdorf, Henkel, METRO, Telekom and XING were represented at the “Master your Career” careers fair. Students can apply for internships in Germany, Europe, the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Asia or across the world. Take advantage of the opportunity and gain international professional experience during your degree course with an internship abroad.