Shouldn’t I Be the One Getting Paid?

By Cultural Embrace Coordinator Casady Monroe

Living takes money. In all of the various positions I interned in, none of my bosses ever offered enough funding to cover my housing, my meals, or even my gas money. I understand the entitled position of, “Hey—I’m doing you a service. You’re lucky to have my young, agile mind disposable to your whims. And I deserve adequate compensation!”…But this just isn’t how our economy works. You have to prove yourself and your knowledge before any company is going to look at you as an asset. Interns often show up for the free training, work a few months, and then move on. So it makes sense that most companies don’t pay their interns, but consider their work output as an exchange for the guidance and industry secrets the host company provides.
While you’re in the interning phase of your life, why not consider doing it abroad? Interning abroad isn’t cheap, but neither is interning in general. Here are some tips for covering the expenses:
  •          Get a second job. Put fliers up around town for a private English tutor or offer your services up at an Irish Pub or touristy restaurant.
  •          Sell stuff. Downsizing your possessions makes sense if you’re planning on spending several months abroad, so take the opportunity to put your old clothes, unread books, or unnecessary kitchen appliances up for sale online on Craigslist or EBay.
  •         Share your living expenses with other interns and students. Many of our programs offer shared apartment options with fully equipped kitchens; rotate the nights that each resident is responsible for making dinner.
  •          Move in with your parents. I know, not the most fun living arrangement, but it is a great way to save money while planning for your next adventure.
  •          Check with your college. Study Abroad Offices, the Language Dept. , the Dept. of your major, and Career Services often provide funds for students to travel abroad and gain professional development.
  •          Ask family. If you’re able to present a precise argument for why you want to go to country X and learn more about X profession, all the better. Don’t expect them to be willing to cover everything, but chipping in or providing a loan until you establish your own career might be a possibility.
  •          Avoid expenses. Don’t go out every night and run up bar tabs. By all means, enjoy the new friends that you’ve made, but consider the cost of a glass of vintage red wine versus a simple water with lemon.
  •         Go above and beyond. Bosses will sometimes offer bonuses, concert tickets, or pocket money for interns that surpass expectations.
  •         Consider budget-friendly options. Interning in Argentina is cheaper and provides many of the same opportunities that Interning in Spain would.
  •         Get the most bang for your buck. Interested in business? China is a hot market and looks great on a resume. Into fashion? Hello, Milan, Italy! Want to be a doctor? Get hands-on in Ecuador. Contact Cultural Embrace for country suggestions that match your aspirations.
Cultural Embrace helps you secure an internship that matches your professional goals, and in many cases also provides housing and meals. Working abroad takes you out of your comfort zone, bolsters your language knowledge, and provides a delightful vacation-ambiance as an alternative to the zombie-like daily grind of a 9-5 job. We specialize in matching your skills, education, and goals with available opportunities in foreign companies. When I was seeking out internships, I took virtually every offer that came my way, and ended up with a diverse (and pretty useless) sampling of bankruptcy law, accounting, editing, and public relations. If I had known about Cultural Embrace, I would have had a more appealing and logical resume when I took my first steps into the paying job market. Plus, I would have had an instant “in” for discussing the personal growth, independence, and understanding that I experienced living abroad.
Once you’re abroad, make the most out of your internship. Network with your colleagues and clients and keep their contacts for sending them a quick “Thanks! I’m home; I’ll never forget the experience,” email once you return. It’s a good idea to make a stack of your own business cards before heading oversees, so acquaintances know how to reach you once that perfect, salaried position opens up. Also make sure to update your resume as soon as possible—you’ll want to include details about all you learned and observed in your international position. Then get ready to sell yourself and put your new, global skills on the market!

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Jul 30, 2021 @ 16:16
API is hiring! If you’re interested in joining our API family, check out the link below to apply today!
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Jul 27, 2021 @ 11:49
✈️ Today's #TravelTuesday is brought to you by UWL student Emily Link who studied abroad with API in Ireland! Head over to API's Instagram to check it out!

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