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Why an internship abroad in an emerging economy is more beneficial

Updated: Jul 17

"The results are interns with higher levels of confidence and added motivation to make a significant contribution”

An internship abroad is well-accepted as being an advantageous asset on the resumé of students and recent graduates entering an increasingly competitive global job market accompanied with professional and personal development, but shouldn’t we also consider what value the destination of an internship abroad has?

For example, could it be even more advantageous for students and recent graduates to intern abroad in a fast-paced emerging economy rather than a well-developed economy?  This argument can be broken down into four key points using the feedback and comments we have collated from our alumni who have completed an internship program via Intern Colombia in Colombia, South America.


Greater responsibilities, bigger impact


In fast-paced emerging economies, companies and organizations highly value fluent foreign-language speakers and especially fluent English-speakers to not only increase and maintain their global presence but to also inject new ideas, energy and fresh perspectives on projects. Their positive attitude and optimism towards foreigners, particularly in Colombia, gives them a fearless factor when it comes to assigning interns their projects and work responsibilities. The ‘office intern’ does not exist in emerging countries.


Within the first few days clear goals and objectives are set, as are immersing new arrivals with their new colleagues – aimless internship supervisor shadowing is not even considered! They are given the opportunity to work on or even manage essential short-term and medium-term projects leading to concrete positive impacts for the business or organization, the local economy and local communities. The results are interns with higher levels of confidence and added motivation to make a significant contribution, and they also feel they are a valuable member of the team.


Not stepping, but leaping outside of comfort zone


Living outside of your comfort zone isn’t easy but it’s where the good stuff happens! Fast-paced emerging economies are exciting places to be given their rapid economic growth & development. Each emerging economy will have a unique set of challenges and opportunities for those that are willing to grow and develop both professionally and personally.


Many will still have strong customs and traditions that play an integral part in everyday life, allowing international interns to experience a unique and authentic cultural immersion experience and enable them to learn how to be far from their national and local culture.

"Living outside of your comfort zone isn’t easy but it’s where the good stuff happens!"

Interns will show they’re able to leap outside of their comfort zones and put more than just a notable highlight on their resumé but a stamp of authority.


Global Awareness


An international internship in an emerging economy will also challenge perceptions of the common historical, cultural, and regional identities of emerging economies. Interns will realize the Western way is not the only way and will encourage them to question their own cultural understanding and global outlook and challenge those around them. No doubt, an experience interning abroad in an emerging economy also importantly gives a greater awareness of global issues that are perhaps not felt or, at times, even considered in their home countries.


Emerging Markets experience invaluable to Multinationals


The cultural experience and adaptability gained through an international internship in an emerging economy can be a massive asset to any company aiming to be competitive globally.

“When interning abroad, you become ingrained in the local culture and experience full cultural immersion”

The established world order is changing, economic growth has stagnated in developed countries and many predict growth will now come from emerging economies to drive the global economy forward. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers projects the Colombian economy to rank 31st out of the most powerful economies in the world by 2030, in their report, titled “The long view: how will the global economic order change by 2050?” – surpassing the Netherlands!


Test language skills to the limit


In an emerging economy, the option to fall back on English is drastically reduced. The quality and level of English and foreign languages just isn’t as high as it is in developed economies. What does this mean? Well, they really must try and master the local language of their host country – when interning abroad, you become ingrained in the local culture and experience full cultural immersion. Mastering the local language or the basics is essential and unavoidable, and these language skills will make any student or graduate more marketable in the job market.


It can be a daunting task to pick a clear career path. I remember throughout university it felt somewhat challenging to clearly identify an industry and profession that would give me concrete fulfillment and gratification for years to come.


If If you would like to know more about Colombia or what it's like to do an internship program in South America. Please contact a member of our team.

For a list of our most popular internship programs in Colombia - click here.

This blog post was written by Matthew Barfield, Director & Founder of Intern Colombia. This article was first published on The PIE Blog on October 25, 2018.


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