Work, Volunteer, or Intern Abroad

The world is becoming more interconnected. To do well in this environment, Americans must become acquainted with the world beyond our borders. In your first job, will you be ready to do business with international clients who may dress, eat and think very differently from you?  Will you be prepared to work with people who may not speak your language?  Will you be ready to accept your employers assigning you to a branch in another country? It usually does not matter if you had a paid job or internship while abroad, or if you were a volunteer. 

Note:  If you work/intern/volunteer abroad on a program not affiliated with Purdue, your regular financial aid may not be applicable.  Click here and scroll to "Other Funding for International Study" for advice on additional funding.


Interning abroad through Office of Programs for Study Abroad

Many Purdue study abroad programs offer the possibility of doing an internship in addition to taking classes.  Be aware that conditions vary quite a lot from one internship to another.  Read more about this here, on the website of the Institute for International Education.

Interning abroad through the CCO or OPP

Purdue's Center for Career Opportunites has an International Internships site.

Current students and graduates are welcomed to send questions about Work Abroad or related employment questions to

Engineering students can consult the Office of Professional Practice for more options.

Overseas Research Internship Program

This program offers international education opportunities to students in techincal majors and to graduate students.  Click here for details.

Interning abroad (not affiliated with Purdue)

It is also possible to do internships abroad independently of Purdue. 

  • CDS can arrange internships for students and recent graduates in Germany, Spain, Argentina and other countries.

Working abroad - short term (not affiliated with Purdue)

There are numerous programs that enable recent college graduates to obtain short-term work permits that allow them to work in other countries for a few months.

Be aware that many of the jobs made available are not high-level and do not pay much.  Expect to make enough to pay your basic expenses (as long as you are living on a fairly "basic" level).


Teaching abroad (not affiliated with Purdue)

There are numerous programs that enable recent college graduates to teach in other countries for a few months or a year.  In most cases, participants teach English conversation.

Volunteering abroad (not affiliated with Purdue)

One of the best-established ways to volunteer abroad is through the Peace Corps.  Purdue students interested in this option should contact the Peace Corps’s Chicago office.  Note that it is possible to do a Master’s degree in combination with Peace Corps service.

Other options include

Working abroad – long term (not affiliated with Purdue)

About language studies.  Many people think that studying a foreign language can get them a job in another country.  While it is a vital part of the preparation, it is often not as much help as Americans expect it to be.  People from other countries who are competing with Americans for international jobs usually speak more languages, because the educational systems in many other countries require people to learn English plus one other foreign language (in addition to their birth language!) from a very early age.  So, to work abroad, you will probably need to develop other abilities, in addition language proficiency.  Some suggested approaches follow.

Develop a skill needed everywhere.  The same things that are highly demanded in the US – such as engineering, finance, graphic arts, nursing, and so on – are in demand in many other countries, too.  Having strength in the “hottest” fields will help you find a job no matter where you want to live.

Use your “inherited” knowledge.   You can be well on the way to being an expert in some fields just because of where you grow up.  For example, if you are American and want to live and work in Italy, a way to do this is to earn graduate degrees in American Literature, or American History, or American Culture, and then teach these subjects in an Italian university.  Being a native speaker of English and having a deep understanding of the culture behind your lessons would provide a strong advantage over non-American candidates applying forthe same job.

Work for a large American company with foreign branches.  Many American companies have extensive operations overseas.  Consider working for such a company in the US for a year to learn their way of doing things, then look for opportunities to transfer to one of their overseas offices.  Fitting into a US company’s established overseas structure would increase your chances of getting assistance with moving, and decrease your hassles with immigrationand pay arrangements; handling such things without help can be quite difficult.  You would also go into such a job with a prior understanding the company’s culture, so you would not have to learn that at the same time as learning the culture of the country.

Sites of use to anyone interested in working abroad

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