If there’s one thing I heard on my recent whirlwind trip around Europe, it’s that EU students want to intern in the U.S. I met hundreds of students from 10 universities across three countries, as well as from all over Europe at the Erasmus Student Network conference. And their collective message was clear: we want more U.S. internship opportunities.
The experience on my trip was on-the-ground confirmation of what I already knew — that international internship placements in the U.S. are steadily and continually rising. The U.S. Department of State data shows that the number of international interns has increased by 16% over the last five years. From 2016-17, it was a 3.4% increase.
Why do EU students view the U.S. as as the go-to place for professional internships? From my experience, I see four key reasons.
#1: Access to the epicenter of innovation
The U.S. is indeed the epicenter of innovation, and our Career Training USA participants tell us that’s why they chose to intern here. America is the place to be, not just to develop creative ideas but to make them a reality. Access to cutting-edge research and technology make the U.S. an appealing place to learn and grow. From the arts to engineering, many EU participants tell us it’s necessary to train in the U.S. in order to see and experience new techniques and industry trends up close.
#2: Career development you can’t find anywhere else
According to an Erasmus Impact Study, 90% of European students who did an internship in the EU experienced an increase in employability skills. In the same way, 97% of our own international interns learned new skills that will benefit their careers.
The key difference is that our interns said doing their internship in the U.S., as opposed to in the EU, helped them to maximize their experience. Interning in America helped them improve their professional portfolios in the best way possible. The U.S.’ place as a major global player in nearly all fields provides our interns unique insight into their industries that they can’t get anywhere else.
#3: Maximum English immersion
The Erasmus Impact Study also showed that 70% of European students who interned in the EU worked at companies that used the students’ native language. Only 30% worked at a company that used English as its business language.
When interning in the U.S., it’s guaranteed that you’ll be immersed in English every day. Interns in the U.S. polish their business English during days on the job, and perfect their conversational English during nights out with friends or on weekend trips. This depth of constant immersion just can’t be found in most EU countries.
#4: A new cultural context and a global network
An internship in the U.S. gives European students and graduates the ability to explore their field in an entirely new context, far beyond their home continent. And they gain access not just to an American context, but a truly global one as well. Because the U.S. attracts professionals from literally the entire world, interns in the U.S. develop important global skills and expansive networks.
These people-to-people connections – personal and professional – are hugely valuable. And the EU students I met with told me that there is no better opportunity for access to a global network than by interning in the U.S.