Biology major Rachel Paquette ’14 wanted to spend the summer before her senior year doing hands-on research while living overseas. So when she learned about a summer internship doing lab work in Australia, she decided to apply.
The honors student is now getting ready to head down under for a six-week internship at the South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre (SAASC) in Adelaide, a coastal city that is the capital of South Australia. She will be developing lab culture techniques for several species of algae and testing the impact of environmental conditions.
“I get to go to Australia, do hands-on work in my field and get credit,” says Paquette, who will be conducting research at West Beach, on the shores of Gulf St. Vincent. After doing stem cell research last summer at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the SAASC internship will give her a view into a different career path.
“It should be a great indicator of what I want to do next year. I’m teetering between going for a Ph.D. or medical school,” she says.
Paquette is among a growing number of students who are taking advantage of international internship opportunities; gaining professional experience while getting exposure to global learning.
“International internships are a great opportunity for students to gain valuable career experience and earn academic credit,” says Fern MacKinnon, manager of the Office of Study Abroad and International Experiences
. “Placements are available for nearly every major. In some programs, students can also take courses in various disciplines in addition the internship.”
, who earned her degree in English in May, spent her final undergraduate semester in Valencia, Spain as a public relations and social media intern with the Villarreal soccer club. Quezada had done previous internships in Washington, D.C. and Lowell and wanted to broaden her experience. Participating in a faculty-led study abroad to Prague, Czech Republic during the summer of 2012 whetted her appetite for a longer overseas experience.
“I wanted to challenge myself on every level,” says Quezada, whose Villarreal internship responsibilities included event planning, translating and developing the club’s social media strategy. With her degree in hand, her career goal is to work in marketing or communications in the entertainment industry.
“The internship in Valencia was a great experience,” she says. “Now I feel ready to work. I am quite excited to start a new chapter.”
Students doing international internships for credit have assignments to complete, usually a series of papers or presentations. Similar to a study abroad program, the students live in apartments or with host families. Interviews and orientations are often conducted online and students can connect with others enrolled in the same programs through group Facebook pages in advance of traveling overseas. The Study Abroad office offers help with the application process and other arrangements.
Motivated to learn by living and working in a different country, Ashley Park ’14, who is studying marketing and management in the Manning School of Business, lined up a summer internship with the non-profit Open Society in Prague, where she will be helping with public relations, outreach and social media.
“At first I didn’t think about interning at a non-profit but a lot of my interests including economics and marketing lined up with this work,” she says.
Park, who describes herself as “reserved,” hopes to gain not only professional experience but also build confidence.
“I find it hard to strike up a conversation with people I don’t know. I’m not used to stepping outside my comfort zone,” she says. “But I know understanding different cultures and living overseas can change people in a lot of ways.”