6 Ways you can Fund your International Internship this Summer
While the number of students going abroad has doubled in the past fifteen years, they still make up less than 10% of all U.S. undergraduate college students. U.S. students are much less likely to study or intern abroad compared to their international peers. The answer, perhaps, lies in the high cost of tuition in the United States, which leaves students unable to pay for international ventures, despite the growing desire to travel among young U.S. citizens. But students shouldn’t have to worry about funding their excursions, and many are unaware of the plurality of funding options that exist for internship opportunities abroad.
“There has also been a rise in non-credit education, as U.S. students increasingly seek out short-term work, internships, volunteer opportunities and student research overseas. Not only are these excellent educational opportunities, they help provide students with international experiences and a global network” — Sergei Klebnikov in Forbes.
It might seem too good to be true, but I can tell you from experience that it’s possible. I’ve studied/volunteered/interned abroad three times, and I was able to receive partial if not full funding for each of these excursions. In 2014, with the help of a private donor, I joined a group of students spending the summer studying in Toronto, Canada. Then in 2015, I jumped on board an opportunity to study at the University of Cape Town and volunteer in South Africa. I used the experience to publish my senior thesis, and as a result was able to receive a research grant from my department at Penn State Behrend that covered almost all of my expenses.
Now I’m back in Cape Town for the summer, completing an unpaid internship with Eventerprise, a tech-startup and early stage SaaS platform that allows event hosts to transparently review event suppliers, connecting the two parties. As a Master’s of Public Administration candidate at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, I received funding from two incredible resources which allowed me to fully fund my excursion. If you’ve got the travel bug like me, but struggle with understanding how to finance your goals, I’m here to give you a few tips:
1) Start early, but more importantly, don’t wait till the last minute
It might seem impossible to focus on filing applications to go abroad when you’re in the middle of an academic semester, but it’s crucial to successfully finding funding. If you want to spend your summer abroad, I recommend you start narrowing down top contenders over the winter break so you can finish up applications for work or study by the end of February. This is because the sooner you know what you’re doing, the more time you have to search for fiscal support.
Because I signed on for my internship in early March, I had three months to apply for scholarships. When it comes to getting funding, the sooner the better. Universities or scholarship funds many times operate from a pot of money, and when that pot runs out there’s no more funding left to give. Other programs may have early deadlines. Put these two factors together, and if you wait until the month before you leave it may be impossible to find the funds to go. Nail your plans down soon, and then come up with a good argument for just why this experience will be so important for your future. Which brings me to my next point …