Embarking on an internship abroad can feel daunting, but it could open up a world of opportunity.
Thinking of an internship this summer? Why not consider one abroad? There are several programmes that offer placements to science students or graduates looking to gain relevant work experience in an exciting location. Not only is it a great opportunity to travel, meet new people and learn a new language, the ability to push yourself out of your comfort zone will impress future employers and give you a lot to talk about in interviews.
Here, Jordan Kodner, currently a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, tells us about his summer placement with Contact Singapore, who offer summer placements lasting 3-6 months starting in July (application deadline is the 28th Feb).
Why did you decide to apply?
I had heard a number of positive and interesting things about Singapore in the past, and I needed something to do for the summer. I figured an internship in Singapore would be a win-win for me.
What did the application process involve?
The first part off the application just asked for which position I’d be interested in, my school and major, my resume, and other basic identifying information. A few weeks later, I received an email inquiring about my transcripts.
Where was your placement and what did it involve?
I worked at the Spin and Energy Lab at the National University of Singapore Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. There, I researched microcontrollers that would be suitable for ultra-low power applications.
What do you feel that you achieved in the three months you were in Singapore?
I learned something about a field that I had very little prior experience in. I’m not an electrical engineer, so working in that area in a lab on the opposite side of the world was a bit of a challenge, but I feel like I succeeded.
What was the highlight of the experience?
Without a doubt, living and working in Singapore was the best part of my summer. Working at a Singaporean institution, living in government subsidized housing, eating Singaporean foods with Singaporeans and other residents, I got to experience the culture in a way that a regular tourist usually cannot.
What was the hardest thing?
The work itself was the most difficult part. Of course, I received some help from other lab members, but it still required a significant amount of research on my part into an area that I had very little prior familiarity with. It was very fulfilling, though, to produce a part of a working product at the end.
Do you think this placement will help your career?
I’m sure it will help my career. Employers like to see candidates who are willing to put some productive effort into their free time and people who are willing to take on new opportunities. It may have changed my aspirations as well. Given the opportunity, I would love to return to live and work in Singapore.
What advice would you give to other students considering doing an internship abroad?
I would suggest making an effort to live with the locals rather than to live in some sort of student housing. I feel that I got much more out of the experience than some others because I chose to live with a Singaporean family over a hostel.