So you already know that doing an internship abroad can be a great start to your international career, but do you feel overwhelmed by the idea of making travel arrangements, looking for accommodation and managing your living expenses?
Don't get discouraged and take it step-by-step. The living situation can be easily solved by finding student rooms for rent. They are usually cheaper than other accommodation options and will give you the possibility to socialise with young people from your destination country and Erasmus students. Receiving a scholarship will also help you with the financial aspect.
But, you might ask, how do I go about it? Which scholarship can I get?
The available options are multiple and going through all of them might be enough to prevent you from getting on that plane destined at your bright international career. But, luckily, we are here to help and make sure that that plane does not take off without you!
Here’s a summary of the possibilities that you have. Just see which one adapts best to your situation and make sure that you don’t miss the application deadline.
If you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree you might be eligible for a scholarship provided directly by your university. Nowadays, most of the higher education institutions have a curricular internship embedded in their courses. As the international experience becomes more and more valuable, many universities encourage their students to take on such a challenge and offer additional funding to those willing to undertake it.
If you decide to apply for an internship grant through your university, remember to check the requirements and deadlines carefully. Some application processes might be quite straightforward and come down to submitting a simple application form, but usually, it takes a little bit more of an effort. Therefore, make sure that you meet all of the eligibility requirements, before you start dedicating hours and hours to filling in the documentation, writing essays and preparing your CV. As the process may vary at each university, it’s best to talk directly to the Placement Officer who will be able to answer all of your questions and guide you through the process.
If you haven’t heard about Erasmus yet, it’s high time for you to find out what it is. The opportunities offered by the programme are tremendous! The name englobes what used to be known as Erasmus Mundus and Leonardo Da Vinci programmes, and even though most people associate it with the study abroad programmes, you should know that Erasmus+ offers extra funding also for work placements and internships abroad. The placement can last from 2 to 12 months, whereas the amount of the grant depends on the country that you will choose as your destination. It is available for students and (good news for those of you who have already graduated!) also for recent graduates.
The EU, apart from the Erasmus+ programme, offers also several training schemes that take place in its institutions. These scholarships might be quite difficult to get, but their prestige definitely makes them worth a try. A good example of such programme is the European Commission Blue Book traineeship. It takes place twice a year, starting in March and October, and has a duration of 5 months. It is open to all EU citizens, no matter how old they are, and there is also a limited number of places that are allocated to candidates from outside of the EU. If your field of study is related to administration or translation and you want to work in Brussels, Luxembourg or any other European country, it might be your perfect match. Additionally, the offered living allowance is quite attractive as it usually adds up to around €1,000.00 per month - for the 2019 sessions it amounts to €1,196.84 per month.
If neither administration nor translation is your cup of tea, check out the schemes offered by other EU institutions, such as the European Parliament, Court of Justice, European Data Protection Supervisor, European Central Bank, etc., and we are sure you will find something for you!
If you are not an EU national and you are worried that you might not be eligible for the scholarships offered within the EU, don’t get discouraged as you still have numerous options to choose from! First of all, gather all the information that you can and find out which scholarship are available to you based on your country of origin. You might want to check your country’s Ministry of Education website and go to the scholarships section.
An important thing to bear in mind is that it works both ways, i.e. don’t focus only on programmes offered by the institutions based in your country, but do research on what your preferred destination country has to offer to candidates coming from abroad.
In the U.S., for example, the Fulbright Programme administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is one of the biggest exchange schemes which offers over 8,000 grants each year. It operates in more than 160 countries and provides a wide range of interesting exchange options, including Foreign Language Teaching Assistant programmes, which are available for both U.S. students who want to go abroad and non-U.S. students willing to go to the United States.
Last, but not least, you should remember that there are thousands of scholarships designed for specific groups of students. The schemes based on the area of study are the most obvious example. Worldwide, there is a large number of institutions, both public and private, that offer placement scholarships in their selected fields: healthcare, agriculture, art, finance, computer science to name a few. They are usually based on merits so make sure you do well in your final exams!
There are also some scholarship opportunities designed to foster equality, diversity, and inclusion. They focus on specific needs of the students and minorities and offer funding to students with disabilities, from low-income families or developing countries and to LGBT community members.
As you can see, you have many options to choose from. So narrow it down to the category that interests you the most. Take a look at the available internships and start applying. Do your best to make sure that the next time you get off a plane, your luggage is filled with valuable experience, both personal and professional.
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