By Sheren Khalel
Andrew Case, international business major, spent last summer in the Netherlands completing an internship through Webster’s Global Internship Experience (GIE).
“I decided to do an international business degree because I wanted to do my internship abroad,” Case said.
GIE internships are primarily done during the summer. Last summer, 13 Webster students utilized the program. The GIE offers internships in Austria, China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Case interned in the Netherlands with Enviu, a nongovernmental organization. His internship focused on creating new ways for developing countries to tackle problems with water shortages.
“My study was on developing countries and their water supply and how it’s getting very, very low,” Case said. “So, we tried to find different innovative ways to conquer that with things like rain-water harvesting.”
Case decided not to take the direct route of contacting the GIE office first. Instead, he looked for his own global internship opportunity so he would be guaranteed work he was interested in.
“I actually was pretty hands-on with what internship I was going to get. So I contacted the organization and reached out to them, and then I connected them with Webster,” Case said. “I didn’t want to take a chance with being that coffee intern. So I took a hands-on approach.”
The GIE works directly with seven countries. Only two of the countries offer English-speaking internships (the United Kingdom and the Netherlands). However, students are allowed to pick an internship in any country they would like as long as they have the necessary language skills required.
Vincenza Previte is an international relations graduate of Webster University. Previte said a hands-on approach provides even more opportunities to intern globally. Previte found her own internship in Spain with PantallasAmigas.
PantallasAmigas is a nonprofit organization. The organization promotes safe Internet use for children and teenagers. Previte wrote press releases, translated PantallasAmigas’ website and wrote stories for its blog.
Previte was paid a little less than minimum wage in Spain, which is about $980 a month. She said her boss helped her find an apartment at a cheap rate that was paid for from her checks. Case stayed with a friend in the Netherlands to help minimize costs.
The financial strain of completing internships abroad is an important issue to consider before beginning the GIE process. According to Webster’s GIE website, interning globally can cost anywhere between $2,500 and $6,000, plus the $1,000 program fee. Webster does not offer financial assistance for the program.
Previte said she did not expect her internship to result in a job, but her experience was valuable even if it wouldn’t have ended in a job.
“I did do some networking and met amazing people, but regarding networking, their economy (in Spain) is not that great,” Previte said. “It’s not like I could find a job there because locals have the priority.”
Libby Papineau, assistant director of the GIE program, called the internship experience “invaluable.”
“It’s really invaluable for students that want to work overseas at some point or even for a company here in the states that have international offices,” Papineau said.
Joseph Roberts, head of the internship program for the management department at Webster, said the experience and skills gained working overseas may make students more marketable to potential employers.
Roberts said an internship abroad allows students to see how a business is run in any given country. He said students could then bring that knowledge to a company in the United States.