University of Iowa

IES internships provide students with professional experience in a foreign context

October 11th, 2017

Destiny Foster says she’ll always remember leaving the study abroad office and calling her mom to tell her they were going to “need to sell some candy bars or something” because she was going to Spain over the summer.

“There was something that told me I needed this experience,” she said. “It was a calling and I had to answer it. I’m so glad I did because here I am, months later, filling you in on my unforgettable journey abroad.” 

Destiny Foster

Destiny Foster

A communications major, Destiny spent eight weeks interning for a co-working space in the heart of Barcelona. There she learned about the ins and outs of marketing and advertising, writing content, managing social media sites, and creating video story boards.

“There are not enough words to describe the experience I had in Spain,” Foster said. “I gained so much insight, so much knowledge, and I built a lot of life-long connections.”

Destiny’s internship was made possible through the Institute for the International Education of Students – or IES. IES is the international internship provider for the UI and the partnership has seen tremendous success, with a 28% increase in participation in just its second year.

“The best part about the IES internships is anyone can benefit,” said Amy Bowes, senior advisor and program coordinator. “A student who has already had work experience will be challenged in new ways and given a different perspective on their future career and a student who has no work experience will be guided through the process and gain skills they can put on their resume and talk to employers about in future interviews.”

Riley Deutsch

Riley Deutsch

Riley Deutsch interned in Chile last summer, where he worked with a taskforce studying gastric cancer, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country. The taskforce was using a software that neither the clinicians nor researchers were familiar with, so, as a biomedical engineering major, Riley was able to facilitate communication between the two groups and help them understand how to use the software to design the best studies.

Although Riley learned a lot from the hands-on work he was doing, he said he got the most insights from his Chilean colleagues.

“I think it’s so important to be exposed to different cultures, different ideas, different customs, and especially to bring them back onto a campus,” he said. “There are a lot of things we do day-to-day, sort of by default. I think by bringing in different cultural perspectives, we hold up a mirror to our customs, allowing us to integrate the best ideas for who we are and how we personally want to live.”

National and institutional data show that studying and interning abroad are high impact practices that lead to higher paying jobs and quicker job offers after graduation - 97% of study abroad students found employment within 12 months of graduation, when only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period. Still, students struggle to articulate how their experiences impacted them when talking with potential employers.

“With the cost of education increasing, it’s important that I help students make the best academic and career choices to get the maximum value out of their decision to study or intern abroad,” said Bowes. “During the IES program, advisors and instructors work with students to better articulate their experiences and expand upon the competencies they’re actively gaining while they’re abroad.”

Angela Mahoney

Angela Mahoney

Angela Mahoney, a sophomore studying biochemistry, interned at City Pharmacy in the heart of Dublin, Ireland. She said her experience helped strengthen her desire to attend medical school while also instilling in her a new sense of confidence.

“My advice to anyone who’s ever considered studying abroad is to ‘go for it!’”, she said. “Go to the Study Abroad office, talk with an advisor, and they’ll help you find a program that works for you, your schedule, and your major. It was probably the best thing I’ve ever done, so I’d recommend it to everyone.”

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