If you’re planning on studying abroad, you may be able to test out a career path while still pursuing your education by taking advantage of an intern abroad program. Now a days, more and more employers are recognizing the benefits of studying abroad, and are actively seeking out candidates with study abroad experience. This past summer, I was able to spend 10 weeks interning for a non profit in Bangalore, India., through the GU Impacts program. The GU Impacts program provides Georgetown University students the opportunity to intern abroad in Peru, Nicaragua, Phillipines, or India, and engage with local communities through program partners including non-profit organizations, businesses, and government initiatives.
I utilized the opportunity to further ignite my passion for social entrepreneurship through engaging in projects that helped rural communities in Bangalore India. I was eager to fully immerse myself in a culture that I was faintly familiar with and the notion of returning to India & being able to visit my cousins in Kerala was very appealing to me. After reflecting on my internship experience, I can say with full confidence that it has really changed my life. I have grown significantly in both my personal and professional life.
My role as an intern for the non-profit Dream a Dream allowed me to hone my skills in marketing and communication significantly. Dream A Dream focuses on developing the life skills of underprivileged children living in Bangalore, through workshops, after school programs, and outdoor activities. My role was to develop a marketing and fundraising campaign targeting local individuals to become champions of Dream-A-Dream’s work by engaging volunteers, creating a video campaign, and developing a social media strategy. Among the skills I developed and knowledge I gained, I learned about business development. I strengthened my ability to conduct research and became more familiar with international companies and how an NGO operates internally.<
Outside of working at the office, during the weekends, I traveled to many different places in India! One of the perks of traveling abroad included taking sleeper trains to nearly anywhere in the country for spare change. The flexibility of the program allowed me to not be limited to the boundaries of Bangalore. Traveling to other parts of India helped me learn about the cultural differences that lie between the different states. I also learned that I am more adventurous than I thought I was! Dealing with different types of people forced me to learn the local language. My proficiency in the languages Malayalam and Kannada improved significantly! There were many times when I had to rely on solely my limited proficiency of the local language, in order to travel on the buses or take auto-rickshaws.
In addition, I learned how to bargain and negotiate. As a foreigner in India, many taxi (auto) drivers and street vendors will try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge in regards to local prices. Bargaining is a very important, and even expected, part of shopping at markets in India. After getting ripped off one too many times, I eventually learned how to properly negotiate –which is key skill in the business world.
Finally, the people you develop relationships with could help you secure a lead on a job in your field or host country, or perhaps even a job offer at the end of your internship. Throughout my internship, I was able to build an international network of contacts and have developed life long friendships with many of the students that we worked with throughout the program.
Interning abroad in India has certainly opened up diverse possibilities, and it’s no wonder that India is growing as one of the most sought-after destinations to travel . India is established as a center for big business and interesting economics, all the while still preserving a beautiful ancient culture. Overall, interning abroad in India has helped shape me into becoming a business leader with a global mindset, which is imperative as an upcoming social entrepreneur. It has also opened up eyes up to the poverty that exists outside of the United States’ bubble. My time abroad has made me all the more determined to one day establish a non-profit that will improve the education of underprivileged kids who cannot fend for themselves. If given the opportunity, I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Contributed by Febin Bellamy