Student intern Christopher Crachiola in China at the Great Wall of China.
Imagine your internship supervisor sits you down and starts drawing an elaborate diagram of bubbles and lines. Your first task: Understand how the Chinese government works and then compare it to what you know about the American system.
That’s no easy feat, but it was part of Christopher Crachiola’s internship in China this summer. Crachiola, a 2012 graduate from the University of Michigan, said his boss spoke limited English, and the inner workings of government can be difficult to explain, even for people who are fluent in the same language.
While many recent graduates have trouble finding jobs after school, Gannett columnist Anita Bruzzese wrote that employers are increasingly seeking out applicants with international work experience.
Numerous organizations, like the Institute for the International Education of Students, Council on International Educational Exchange, the Foundation for Sustainable Development and the U.S. Department of State offer students opportunities to intern overseas.
These students “bring that experience back and use it as leverage for future internships and jobs,” said Jacqueline Levine, assistant dean and director of the University of Rochester’s study abroad center.
“What is particularly important is when students come back, we ask, ‘What did you learn?’ ‘What do you want to do next with that?’”
Approximately 15% of The University of Rochester students participated in an internship while overseas during the 2011–2012 academic year. Thirty percent of summer students participated in an internship while overseas this past summer.
Levine said that her department pushes internships abroad because they open doors for students.
“An American can’t just move to London and work there,” Levine said. “It’s quite difficult to go and get a job,” unless students have the connections from an internship.
Ultimately, students use internships — whether they are in the United States or abroad — as a deciding factor for their future career. Crachiola worked in Germany his sophomore year of college, an internship that helped him choose to change his major from political science to public policy.
“I wouldn’t say being in Germany gave me something I couldn’t get in the U.S.,” Crachiola said. “If anything it taught me what I didn’t like. Politics, maybe, wasn’t my path.”
Crachiola said that most of his experience he could have never learned from a textbook.
“Every experience you have or language you learn can add to the next endeavor,” Crachiola said.
If you’re wondering what Crachiola plans to do next, he certainly is not staying put. He will attend Johns Hopkins graduate school for a degree in advanced international studies. Crachiola just returned from China, and he leaves for Italy next week.
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