Summer Internship: Finding of in International Settings

posted Aug 22, 2011, 8:51 PM by jj pionke
One of my personal goals as I return to graduate school is to do an international internship.  I came to Ann Arbor a month early so that I could not only settle in and find my way around, but so that I could meet with the career office here (brilliant, amazing, and a pretty decently sized factor in why I chose this program) and get started on the hunt for an overseas internship.  Most people will not start hunting for an internship until sometime after New Years, however, since I want to go overseas, I figured that now would be a better time.  It is a little early, but I've got time to do the research right now and not feel rushed.  Also, by doing this early and getting details hammered out, I will be able to apply to various grants and scholarships that will probably be able to defray at least some of the costs.  So, how does this process work?

I talked to my career office person and we hammered together an email form letter that basically stated that I was looking for an internship for Summer 2012 and would that institution be interested in hosting me?  She also gave me valuable advice on researching the countries that I was thinking of sending emails to and that I should only send out email to 3 countries at a time.  Because of the reputation of the University of Michigan, she felt that I would get a yes pretty quickly, and she was right, I did!  I decided to send email to the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Guam.  I set up a spreadsheet to track who I had emailed and when and where.  The next day after I sent out my first batch of emails, I had two positive responses from Singapore!  So far, one of the Singapore responses has followed through and actually sent me a proposal.  We are now hammering out details so I am definitely going to be doing one month in Singapore next Summer.  

I've been kind of surprised by how quickly this has gone, though the career office person hasn't been surprised at all and her calm in the face of this excitement has been a boon.  Still, what about the UAE and Guam?  I haven't heard from them for the most part.  I will be sending a followup email to Guam (that email was sent out because of a contact) and I've had one negative response from the UAE.  The career person recommended that I haven't heard from somewhere within two weeks of emailing them initially, to move on and send out another batch of emails to more institutions in that country or somewhere else.  It's sound advice and if I don't hear my leads in the next week or so, it will be time to send out another round of emails and see what comes up.

I came into the program here at the University of Michigan not even thinking about doing an international internship but after hearing that, now former, students had done it, I felt that it was doable and it is!  

Why Singapore?  There were places that I genuinely wanted to visit when I lived in Asia several years ago that I never got to go to.  I like Asia.  I am sure that the cost of things will keep me from actually doing a lot of traveling and I don't really think I will have the time per se, but it will be really good to be back there and I think it will look good on the resume for when I start looking for a job in the academic library.

I am also glad that my internship will be at various places.  Though being in one place is good, being able to move around and work on various projects I think will give me a well rounded international experience.  Ultimately, though I am comfortable with staying in the US and working here, I am also comfortable with and want to be attractive to, international positions.

Don't worry, there will be more posts on the Summer Internship as things develop!