Work, Intern, Volunteer, Teach Abroad

Work, Intern, Volunteer and Teach programs are generally non-academic and not for credit and give students/graduates the opportunity to expand their international experience beyond study abroad.

Definitions of Opportunities Abroad

Work Programs
Purpose:  Get paid while immersing yourself culturally/linguistically immersed (not a careers placement).
Credit:  No academic credit.
Finances:  Get paid. No financial aid available.
Some programs offer assistance with work visas. Some programs place you in specific jobs.

Internship Programs
Gain work experience related to your major or future career. Common fields are communications, business, international relations, social welfare, social policy, marketing, journalism, engineering, computer science, theater, health…and more.
Credit:  Some are part of study programs, if so, credit is available for the study component. No academic credit for internships without a study component.
Finances:  Those that are part of a study program will require tuition fees. Financial aid is available for the study component. Those not attached to a study program are often unpaid, but some offer compensation (e.g. room & board or a stipend). 

Volunteer Programs
Provide assistance in areas such as community development, social services, child care, elder care, public health, nature conservation, sustainable development, teaching English, women's empowerment, peace building, etc.
Credit:  No academic credit.
Finances:  Usually unpaid but some offer compensation (e.g. room & board). Scholarships may be available.

Teaching English Programs
Gain experience teaching English as a second language.
Credit:  No academic credit.
Finances:  Usually paid. No financial aid available.
Other:  Many programs require a BA. Some do not require any teacher training/certification or language proficiency other than in English. Many positions are available in Asia and Eastern Europe. Some volunteer programs offer English teaching opportunities.

Information from University of California at Irvine, Study Abroad Center.

Choosing a Program
The IVPA Principles and Practices are criteria developed by the International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) to give prospective volunteers a reliable basis on which to choose worthwhile program experiences. Once you identify a program of interest, ask as many questions as necessary to gain a thorough understanding of it. The more you know, the better your chances of not being disappointed once you arrive on site. Some questions you may want to consider asking the program staff include:

  • How far in advance do I need to apply?
  • When will I be notified of my placement or acceptance?
  • What does the program fee cover? What additional expenses can I expect that are not included in the fee?
  • Can I contact past participants?
  • What is the daily and weekly work schedule?
  • Who will be my coworkers and supervisor?
  • What kind of supervision or guidance will I receive?
  • How much can I expect to be paid weekly or monthly?
  • Where will I live and with whom will I live?
  • Will I receive pre-departure information?
  • Is there an in-country orientation?

Then ask yourself: Are my expectations realistic? Can this program provide the kind of experience I am looking for?

More Resources and Information
During International Education Week in the fall 2013 semester, CIEGE coordinated a panel called Student Perspectives: Teaching, Interning and Volunteering Abroad and Resources TO HELP YOU GET THERE.  The presenters included alumi of the Peace Corps, a student who had volunteered with Engineers without Borders in Uganda and Peru, a student who taught English abroad through Berlitz in Germany and Ireland, a Residential Assistant from the Palazzi High School Program in Florence, Italy and an International Affairs dual major who interned with Time Out Shanghai.  View the comprehensive presentation here.

Presenters Links: