Completing an internship abroad can help drive the success of your career, and you do not want to miss out on this opportunity due to lack of necessary financial planning!
When considering an internship program in the U.S., it’s necessary to evaluate the costs involved and make financial preparations. If you’ve already taken a look at our Cost of Living & Budgeting Guide, you should have a sense of the money you will need to do an internship in the U.S. With pre-departure costs (program fees, flight ticket) as well as costs you will incur while in the U.S. (living expenses, food) it may seem overwhelming. As with any overseas experience, an international training experience involves expenses. Doing financial research beforehand and saving money will be well worth your effort.
There are many options to consider when it comes to financing your program in the U.S. We have compiled some resources to assist you in earning or gathering funding for your internship.
- An Investment: There are many benefits to doing an international internship. Just as your education at home is an investment in your future, so too is an international internship. When considering the costs you will incur by participating in an internship in the U.S., think about the outcome of your experience. Will the internship help you in your studies upon your return to school? How will potential future employers evaluate this experience? Will you have made valuable connections and learned lifelong skills? Interning or training in the U.S. is an opportunity that will help launch or improve your career upon returning to your home country, so it’s a worthwhile investment.
- Avoiding scams: As you research scholarships and other funding sources, make sure to verify that they are reputable.
Host an event and invite friends and family to learn about your proposed internship experience abroad. Image courtesy of InterExchange.
- If your internship is paid, you will have income to help offset your expenses and factor into your budget. If your host employer is unable to offer a stipend/salary, try to negotiate a housing allowance or a transportation/meal allowance to help offset your program costs.
- If you have saved your own money, you can support yourself on the program.
- You can create a separate savings account at your bank in which to save up to go abroad. You can then set up a direct deposit schedule where a set amount of money is automatically transferred into the account. A separate account helps you keep track of your funds, and if it’s not part of your regular checking account, you’ll be less likely to spend it!
- Consider using financial management systems such as paypal.com or mint.com to track your progress and eventually reach your savings goal.
- You may have the financial support of family members or friends.
- Keep in touch! Write emails or send postcards home, and share photos when you return to your home country to share your experience with your supportive friends and family. They are more likely to help support you financially if you express you will update them on your adventures.
- If you do have people in your life willing to support you, you can show your appreciation by writing a “thank you” note or bringing them a little something back from your trip.
Host a Fundraising Event
- Host an event and invite friends and family to learn about your proposed internship experience abroad. Not only is it a way for you to earn money to support your trip, it also gets family and friends involved in your abroad plans.
- Be prepared to explain why you are fundraising. Convince people that your experience abroad will be valuable!
- You could throw a party centered around your journey, where you share your plans and what you hope to gain from this experience.
- Another fun idea is to make the event themed around the U.S. and/or your career field by serving food and having decorations related to your abroad program.
- You could also host this type of event as your own birthday celebration. In lieu of gifts, you could ask friends and family to donate to your international experience.
- Other ideas for a fundraising event include a bake sale, car wash, concert or auction.
- Make sure to keep it simple, otherwise your event could cost you more than you’ll get in return. Check out these tips for hosting a successful fundraising event.
- Make sure to thank all attendees and keep them informed of your experiences abroad through emails or a blog.
Create a Blog or Website
- Create a website or blog for your trip to get the word out and ask for financial support. The Internet is the perfect way to connect with others.
- Once you are on your program, you can use your blog to share your travel experiences (stories, photos, etc.) with those who may have supported you or are continuing to support you while you are there.
- You can post anything from photos to videos or format it like a travel diary. Make sure to share it! You can do this through email or post to your social media outlets.
- This is a great way not only to keep in touch with friends and relatives, but also for you to document your travels and look back on your experience in the future!
- Tips for using the Internet to share your adventure
Yard/Garage Sale or Online Sale
- If you own items you no longer use or have never used, you could sell them online (via Ebay, Craigslist and others) or host a garage sale where the funds would support your program abroad.
- Ask friends and family if they have items to donate.
- Tips for hosting a successful garage sale
- Guide to selling items online
- Your university may have general resources students to pursue funding for international programs or internships. Does your school have a scholarship or financial aid office? Talk to your advisor about any scholarships or grants that may be available for you. Many universities have started programs to help students who want to pursue unpaid internships.
- If you are currently on a scholarship, you may be able to transfer your current package for use in the U.S., especially if you are receiving academic credit for your internship.
- Consider Alumni Associations. Perhaps a former school you attended has scholarships for its graduates. You could also ask about putting an announcement in your former high school or university’s newsletter with an explanation of your plans to gain support.
- Your country’s government may have available funds and scholarships for which you can apply. Do some research into opportunities for funding. This could be on a local, regional, or state level.
Private or Community Organizations
- There may be private organizations in your home country that provide support for internships/training programs in the U.S. Some examples include local businesses, chambers of commerce, foundations, and religious groups. Are you a member of any associations or clubs? Contact them and see if they might have funds available to contribute to your program.
- If you are a member of a religious congregation or community organization, you could ask permission to make a presentation about your proposed program in the U.S. Explain what you will be doing and describe your goals. Members may be willing to donate.
- Make sure to highlight a few things in your presentation such as photos and stories about your experiences that you can share with others in the community when you return. Highlight the fact that you are taking responsibility for funding the trip (working, etc.) and not only soliciting donations.
- “Crowd funding” (also crowdfunding, crowd financing) is a way to fund a project by raising money from a large amount of people, usually online. Many websites have gained popularity as they let friends, family, and the world know about something you are working on or plan to do and give them the opportunity to support you by donating money.
- If you create an account and describe your proposed internship, reasons you want to go and goals, you can share the page with friends and family, perhaps using social media to get the word out.
- Some examples of crowd funding sites include:
- Make sure to post your crowd funding page via social media. Share it on Facebook or tweet a link to it. You could even make a Facebook group and invite your friends to join. They can learn about your trip and donate. Once you are on your program, they would be able to see the photos or updates you post to the group as well
We hope you will consider these resources to help offset your costs. While international internships can be costly, the reward is long-lasting!
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Allison joined the InterExchange team in 2011 and holds a B.A. in International Affairs and an M.A. in Higher Education. She oversees the daily operations of the Career Training USA program where she has the privilege of working with students and professionals from around the world pursuing U.S. internships and training programs. Allison is originally from Massachusetts and studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina.