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Should You Study Abroad or Do an Internship?
Stuck between applying for a summer internship or a doing a semester abroad? Consider these factors in your decision.
Summer is still here, but application deadlines for internships and study abroad programs are right around the corner. Still deciding whether to spend your semester exploring new countries or building your resume with an internship? Factor in these considerations before you decide.
Bang for Your Buck
It’s time to break out the spreadsheets and make sure there’s enough money in your World Wallet for both the internship and travel abroad options. A hefty price tag for an abroad program and travel expenses—or sky high rent for a big city apartment to go with a publishing or investment banking internship—should be factored into your decision.
On the flip side of the coin, some semester abroad programs may cost the same amount - or even less—than a semester spent stateside. Depending on the cost of an all-inclusive program (one with room and board), earning credits and taking the trip of a lifetime might actually fit in a standard college semester budget (and it sounds a lot cooler and you’ll learn a lot more than a third option: summer school).
Look at the Timeline
The closer you are to entering the workforce, the more helpful the contacts you make in an internship will be. If you are heading into (or out of) your senior year, and have an internship opportunity in your field and desired location, the professional benefits of fresh contacts and experience are promising. Take a pause before turning down an intern-to-hire opportunity that could land you a job following your internship.
An ideal time to travel abroad is when you are still a year or two away from throwing your cap in the air. You can even set yourself up for future internships by earning college credits that will make room in your schedule for a domestic internship when you return.
What is the current state of your resume?
Have you been working or interning every break, summer or moment in between classes? Packing a suitcase for a trip abroad can diversify this heavy load of job experience for a more well-rounded resume. If you are close to entering the job force with little or no related experience, however, securing an internship is the more responsible decision.
Can you produce resume fodder from the travel?
Before you put that World Travel Adapter back on the shelf, remember: you can gain more than an enviable photostream from a semester abroad - professional skills included! Honing second language abilities, taking informational interviews with professionals in your field, writing a travel blog or taking on a volunteer project are just a few of the ways to move your travel front and center on your resume. Some abroad programs even offer internships (known an “internships abroad”) for a best of both worlds scenario!
It’s All About Balancing Priorities
That “real world” that everyone has been talking about is headed your way fast, and unless that app you developed in your dorm room has already been valued in the millions, you’re going to need a job. Take a look at your remaining calendar between now and that “real world”—including any plans for a gap year—to schedule a balance of professional and travel priorities. Once you enter the work world, putting your life in your travel backpack and taking several months off to spend abroad becomes considerably more challenging…but not entering said work world soon makes affording that trip even more so. Planning for both now will eliminate regrets on either front later!
Are you leaning toward doing a study abroad program—or an internship? Let us know in the comments below.
Caila Ball is a freelance writer and full time travel enthusiast. You can see more of her work at CailaBall.com