University of Iowa

Internships Abroad

Full time, standalone internships are available, primarily in the summer. You can also participate in a study abroad program that offers an internship for academic credit, intended to be taken simultaneously alongside other academic courses.  Note that an internship abroad is primarily intended to be a learning experience. The vast majority of internships abroad are unpaid, due to visa restrictions.  You can expect to pay a fee for most internship placements, just as you would for a study program, as time will be dedicated to your appropriate placement, supervision and learning.  As you research options, be sure to compare costs, GPA requirements and the fields of study a program or agency offers. You can schedule an appointment with the advisor for international internships by contacting UI Study Abroad.

Types of Internships

Stand-Alone Internships

These programs offer a full time, for credit internship experience. The accompanying coursework helps the participant reflect on business culture, improving communication, strengthening work attitude and aptitude, resolving conflicts and navigating issues, challenges, and opportunities so you can succeed on the job abroad and when you return home. The focus of a stand-alone internship is the internship experience and gaining future job skills. 

IES Internships guarantees full-time summer internship students a placement in their field of choice, as indicated on their internship application submitted to IES.

If IES Internships is unable to offer a student an internship placement in the expressed field of choice selected on his or her internship application at least two weeks before the program start date, despite the student’s good faith participation in the process and satisfaction of all program requirements, then the student shall have the option to receive a refund of the full amount he or she has then paid IES Internships or to transfer to an IES program of comparable length and value in the same location (subject to the student satisfying applicable visa requirements and IES Internships’ academic program requirements).

Embedded Internships

Many study abroad programs offer embedded internships, allowing students to participate in an internship while taking other coursework for academic credit abroad. Most of these internships are run with a course component and carry academic credit. Others may not generate credit, but are available as extracurricular activities to enhance cultural exposure and encourage career exploration. The participant generally works 10-20 hours per week at their internship site, working out a schedule that doesn’t conflict with their academic coursework abroad. The focus of these programs is on the overall study abroad experience, with an internship component to complement coursework and other program activities.

Finding an Internship

To see a list of programs that offer internships, go to the Study Abroad Program Search page and in the Program Features dropdown list, select "Internship."

Potential Benefits

  • In-depth Cultural Immersion
  • Skills Acquisition
  • Personal Development
  • Exploration of Possible Career Paths
  • Preparation for Future Job Placements
  • Language Development

Credit or Not-for-Credit?

If you do not receive credit for your internship abroad, you are not eligible for financial aid or scholarships through UI Study Abroad or the University of Iowa. Because your learning is the key goal for any internship, we encourage you to seek a placement that will provide you with an academic forum to reflect upon the internship experience and earn academic credit to substantiate your learning.  

New York Times article "The World is Their Workplace" by Cecelia Capuzzi Simon

A Word about Independent Study

University of Iowa independent study credit cannot be granted for internships. You may wish to explore a project through independent study once you return from an internship abroad, to build upon the learning that took place and explore the interests sparked by your experiences abroad. This is not the same as earning credit for the actual internship. Any independent study you may arrange is separate from the internship abroad and requires payment of UI tuition for the number of credits you’ll earn. You may be able to apply financial aid to an independent study just as you would for any other course you take at UI. Taking an independent study will not make you eligible to use Study Abroad scholarships or financial aid to cover international internship expenses. You must earn credit from the actual internship to receive any funding support from UI to offset internship expenses. Read the UI policy governing independent study to learn more.

Selecting a Reputable Internship

Ryan Pawlowski on street corner in Barcelona

Students should take the time to evaluate various internship opportunities before enrolling. The Forum on Education Abroad has endorsed Boston University's Internship Policies as a Standard of Good Practice for Education Abroad and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has put forth the 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs, both can provide guidance for students selecting an internship abroad program. If you are considering an internship placement halfway around the globe, does the idea of vetting potential internship providers yourself sound daunting? It should. Your health, safety, future professional reputation and learning outcomes all hang in the balance.

To help facilitate international internship opportunities for UI students with reputable providers that consistently strive to meet the good practice standards mentioned above, Iowa has affiliated with IES Abroad (www.iesabroad.org), a trusted internship and study abroad partner for over 200 colleges and universities. As a not-for-profit organization with over 60 years of leadership in study abroad, they dedicate their resources to offering students the best possible programs around the world. IES has very high standards for health and safety. Iowa students can earn UI resident credit by taking part in the accredited, individually customized internship opportunities IES can arrange in a variety of fields in Barcelona, Berlin, Dublin, London, Milan, Paris, Rome, Santiago, Shanghai, and Sydney. An internship advisor is available in UI Study Abroad to help you consider options for an appropriate internship abroad. 

A Word about Ethics

When selecting an international internship, it is important that students are aware of the potential perception that they are taking jobs away from the local community. You can safeguard your professional reputation by following good practice standards that limit duties performed to those you are qualified for. For example, pre-med students are not qualified to practice medicine and should not participate in direct patient care. For more information on good practices, please consult the Forum Standards of Good Practice. For students participating in health related experiences, you can complete the Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety (GAPS) course free online through the University of Minnesota.

Additional Resources for Internships

IAESTE15-20 different countries with individualized, paid internships specifically for STEM majors. 

Going Global: Provides global career information and resources *UI campus users can create a free account

HireaHawk: Find internships around the world posted just for Hawkeyes!

IIEPassport: Search engine for internship opportunities worldwide

Khorana Scholars Program: Research opportunity in India for undergraduates and graduates in engineering, life science, public health, computer science, and other STEM fields. Awards may include airfare, housing, and a living stipend.

Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research and Training (MHIRT) Internship: Summer research internship in various countries awarded to undergraduates and graduates/professionals interested in research pertinent to reducing or eliminating health disparities. 

U.S. Department of State Student Internship Program: Internships in embassies worldwide.