6 Travel Tips for Your International Internship From a Responsible Parent

July 14, 2015

I am a mother of a 19-year-old, who wants to travel abroad to be engaged in an international internship. I think it’s a great idea for students to intern abroad to shape their careers and gain real life, hands-on experience. However, if they have never travelled alone, their parents, like me, likely have a concern about their safety in a foreign land. After a lot of research, I have come up with 6 recommendations for those travelling alone for the first time.

  1. Ensure you always carry your itinerary and travel documents with you and also leave photocopies both where you are residing in your host country and back home with someone you trust. If your travel documents get lost or stolen, you can more easily apply for a new passport with this necessary information.
  2. Record the contact information of the your native country’s Embassy located in the country you are visiting. In case of an emergency, you would know whom to contact to get the necessary help.
  3. Do your research on the culture and the societal norms of the new country. Your knowledge may help to prevent misunderstandings and to ensure you do not offend anyone. Read this blog on the 4 stages of culture shock, to ensure you adapt quickly to your new environment.
  4. Travel smart – never compromise your safety. Safety issues may evolve from being too adventurous when trying new activities, taking health risks or not understanding instructions/cautions due to language barriers. Trying new food in a new country can also lead to a health hazard, if you are allergic to any of the ingredients used to prepare the exotic food you try for the first time in your life. To overcome language barriers, try these translation applications, which can help. Also, try to listen to broadcasts in the new language and perhaps take a few basic language lessons before going or upon your arrival at your destination.
  5. Know where the local hospitals and clinics are located in case of a medical emergency, and always travel with medical insurance.
  6. Ensure you have recorded your family doctor’s contact information, insurance company contact information, and travel insurance company contact information. Copies should also be left with your travel documents.

As a mother, I would feel most assured if my 19-year-old were traveling with a reputable company to ensure items such as those mentioned above are looked after by people who have experience planning trips and internships down to the smallest detail. Everything you can imagine, from accommodations, employer details and internship job descriptions, information about the country/culture, insurance, etc. are handled. Not only that, but local representatives of the company will meet students at the airport, provide an orientation and ensure their safety. It’s the next best thing to me traveling with them!

My advice to all students is to add an international internship to your resumé. Take advantage now of the opportunity to travel and to learn more about your career in an exciting new place! If you heed the recommendations noted above, you will have the experience of a lifetime and set yourself apart in your industry!!

[Today's post is brought to you by our guest blogger Mousumi B., a vocational instructor in Ontario, Canada.]

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Cuba: A new horizon for co-op placements and internships

July 3, 2015

It has now been announced that at least two Florida ferry companies will now be permitted to offer service from Florida to Cuba. This is yet another step closer to a day when Americans will be able to travel freely to Cuba. For now, there are restrictions, but Americans wishing to travel to Cuba for educational purposes can do so. There are so many reasons for Americans or anyone else, for that matter, to consider Cuba for a co-op placement or international internship. First, Cuba is one of the safest places in the world to visit. Crime is almost non-existent, as it is very well policed. Moreover, Cubans are among the friendliest people you will meet and are always very eager to help out a tourist. Even the busy capital of Havana is among the safest places in the world, where you can walk the streets at all hours, and feel safe. Second, there are several unique co-op or internship opportunities in Cuba. Here are just a few of the most noteworthy:

  1. Healthcare – If you are looking to do an internship in healthcare, Cuba should be among the destinations at the top of your list. The Cuban healthcare system is among the best there is and an international model for its excellence and efficiency. Following a July, 2014 visit to the island, Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said, “Cuba is the only country that has a health care system closely linked to research and development. This is the way to go, because human health can only improve through innovation”. Cuba is extremely welcoming of people from all over the world, and is very proud to teach their healthcare methods to those looking to supplement their knowledge.
  2. Education – For those interested in the field of education, Cuba has among the highest educational standards in the world. With a literacy rate just shy of 100%, it outranks both Canada and the United States. Moreover, Cubans outrank their Central and South American peers in math and language skills. This is because the country invests more in relation to its GDP than any other country in the world. There are numerous opportunities in Cuba within the education sector for those eager to offer their knowledge and supplement their own through the country’s unique methodologies.
  3. Hospitality and Tourism – If Travel and Tourism is your interest or career field, then again, Cuba should be a preferred destination to complete an international internship or co-op placement. Following the U.S. embargo, and especially following the collapse of the USSR, tourism very quickly became Cuba’s primary source of revenue. Today, Cuba welcomes approximately three million tourists per year. There are endless opportunities in Havana, as well as Varadero, Guardalavaca, and other coastal destinations on the island for those looking for work experience in the hospitality and tourism fields, especially for who speaks English, as over a third of tourists to Cuba come from Canada and the UK.
  4. Photojournalism – There are few better places in the world more intriguing than Cuba, for an aspiring or established Photojournalist. The island has a very unique and eclectic history that has produced some of the most fascinating art and culture. The opportunity to write about and photograph this remarkable subject is certainly as unique as the island, itself.
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Do your co-op placement abroad – 5 ways it will set you apart

July 3, 2015

In business, everyone is after a competitive advantage. When recruiting, all companies, no matter the industry, are looking for people who can help give them that edge. Ask yourself how you are different from the hundreds or thousands who will be competing against you for the best jobs in your industry. If you are honest with yourself, chances are you won’t likely be happy with your answer. Today, nothing will set you apart the way an international co-op will. Here are just 5 ways it will make you a highly desirable candidate in your career field:

  1. First, and foremost, when employers look at your résumé and see you have worked abroad, they will be highly intrigued to know what you have learned, in terms of technologies and methodologies that you can bring to their operation, to help set them apart. Whether it is because of knowledge, culture, tradition, reputation, every country is different, and different is what employers are looking for.
  2. If you have worked abroad, employers will assume that you possess a level of maturity well beyond your years, and that is a huge advantage. Once upon a time, being young presented a huge advantage because companies were hiring for the long term. They were looking to recruit people who were able to give 30 years. This is no longer true; in fact, the opposite is true today, as employers are finding that after a few years, employees become comfortable and are no longer open to change and innovation. Employers are always looking to replenish with new blood. This means that whether you are 18 or 38, employers will hire you, regardless of age, if you can demonstrate you are right for the job. Moreover, all things being equal, employers are more likely to view a 38-year-old as more mature than you. That is, unless you can demonstrate you are mature for your age. Living and working abroad will do just that.
  3. Having lived and worked abroad, I can tell you that the international network you build is invaluable. When you work abroad, you don’t just meet local people; you meet other people who are doing exactly what you are doing, so you are making connections all over the world. Surely, you have heard it said that networking is the key to success. Robert Kiyosaki said, ‘The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.’ Which do you want to be?
  4. The importance of having proficiency, knowledge, or even familiarity with a second or third language cannot be understated. Most companies today are doing business on an international level, and need people who can communicate in other languages. Although English is still the international language of business, Mandarin is not far behind, nor is Spanish, Arabic, and Russian. Being able to communicate in any of these languages, even at a basic level, goes a long way in establishing and maintaining good international relationships for a prospective employer.
  5. Because more companies than ever before are doing business internationally, they are always looking to hire people who don’t mind travelling for work. A former colleague of mine was passed over for positions on a few occasions because they reported a fear of flying. If this sounds like you, you might want to consider seeking treatment to overcome your fear and then make your first trip overseas an international co-op.
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How to choose the right post-secondary school

May 15, 2015

Statistics show that most students who drop out of University, do so in their first year. In fact, most drop out in their first semester. What is the number one reason? Grades. How is it possible that students who achieve an 80-90% average in high school, find themselves struggling with a C-average in their first semester in University? There are a number of reasons, and one common thread, which is that they likely chose the wrong school, the wrong program, or both. The following are factors considered when selecting a post-secondary school. Many people consider only one or maybe two of them, when choosing a post-secondary school and program, when if fact, all of these factors should be carefully considered:

  1. Should I choose the best school and program? What parents don’t want their sons or daughters to attend the best school? What students, serious about their education, would not want to attend the best school? To clarify, it is not a mistake for this to be among the criteria when choosing a post-secondary school. It’s just that it shouldn’t be the only criteria, because the best school is not necessarily the best school for you. One of the most important keys to success is your ability to adapt and feel at home in your environment. If you don’t, then no matter how smart you are, you are unlikely to perform your best. In the end, the question you need to ask yourself is this: Is it better to get a C-average, or drop out altogether, from the best school in the country for your program, or achieve an A-average from the 3rd, 4th, or 5th best school?
  2. Should I choose a school close to home or out of town? Some students thrive at school when they can sleep in their own bed, regularly eat home-cooked meals, and have daily support from their family and closest friends. Others are motivated by the experience of being away from home, can adapt quickly to change, and embrace new experiences. There is no shortage of examples of kids who desperately want to attend school out of town, or even out of country, either because it’s the most reputable school for their program of choice, or just to be away from home, only to discover after only one or two months, that they are homesick. If this happens, their grades will suffer, possibly to the degree that they drop out. It might be a good idea for students wanting to live in residence, to spend a week or two away from home, perhaps at a retreat, with other students, to see how well they adapt, before making a decision.
  3. Is it OK to choose a school based on the fact that my friends are going there? Just like choosing a location, some students like the comfortable surroundings their friends provide, while others are eager to step outside of their comfort zone and make new friends. Students who want to stay close to their friends should ask themselves if their friends are good role models who will positively influence them when the going gets tough. Conversely, students wanting to attend a school where none of their friends will be, should ask themselves if they feel they can thrive, while trying to make new friends and fit in socially, without the support of their close friends. In both cases, students and their parents need to be honest about the unique advantages and disadvantages, as they differ for everyone.
  4. Does school culture matter? Perhaps more than any other factor, this may be the one that most influences success in school. Students who quickly integrate into their new surroundings are more likely to succeed. Successful integration means getting involved, joining clubs, sports teams, etc. If the school’s culture runs counter to a student’s interests and personality, it will very difficult to fit in and feel a part of the school. When choosing a school, students should find out if the school has clubs, sports, and other activities that are of interest to them and they can join. Being involved in activities outside of class will help them fit in, make new friends, and relieve some of the pressure from their studies.

Before making any of these determinations, be sure to do a lot of research and have as many resources at your disposal as possible. One extremely valuable resource is a personality assessment, such as a Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI). Knowing and fully understanding your personality type is instrumental in making decisions about your education. Like school itself, consider it an investment in your future that will provide immeasurable returns.

An internship abroad is also a great way to learn more about yourself and explore career choices. Contact ICS for more information

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An international internship experience, or how Judit’s career took flight

March 26, 2015

There is a famous quote by St. Augustine that has inspired thousands of people to travel the world and experience something they never had before. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.” Most people travel abroad for enrichment, relaxation or business. However, for a student starting off in their desired profession, an internship abroad provides international experience that is necessary to building a successful career. For 23-year-old Judit Castellvi, travelling from Barcelona, Spain to Toronto, Canada for an internship gave her the opportunity to start a new, career-changing, chapter in her life.

The City of Barcelona, Spain is known for its outstandingly unique and vibrant architecture. Having grown up in a city with beautifully structured and exceptionally designed buildings, Judit began to develop a strong passion for building engineering. This interest is what led her to obtaining a Degree in Building Engineering at the Escola Politecnica Superior de Barcelona (The School of Building Construction of Barcelona), where she studied Building Installations, Urban Management, Building Health and Safety as well as graphic expression programs such as Autocad and 3D Max.

Judit loved what she was learning and even extended her studies at the University, but she knew something was missing. Even though Judit had received a great education, she had yet to find any work. She decided it was time to do something that would separate her from her peers. That’s when Judit’s idea to study and work abroad began to take flight. Soon after making her decision, she packed her bags and headed to Toronto, Canada where she would experience a new culture, improve her English skills and most importantly, pursue an internship with an Architectural firm.

After arriving in Toronto, Judit met her host family who helped her find an international school where she was able to meet new friends and improve her English.

Although Judit was enjoying her time in Toronto, she still was not getting the building engineering experience she thrived for. However, all that changed when the school she was attending placed her in contact with International Career Studies (ICS).

International Career Studies arranged an internship opportunity for Judit, at an Architectural firm that she is extremely grateful to have received.

“I started my internship after Christmas and from the very first moment I began, my colleagues at the office were so nice to me,” recalls Judit. “I was doing important tasks such as designing a 3D penthouse as well as developing 2D building models. I really felt important and useful.”

Judit was also able to work side by side with the rest of the people in her office. One person who helped her tremendously was her Supervisor, who was able to provide her with on-site experiences by taking her to a construction site where she could see first-hand how various designs and models were to be executed.

“I will never regret this experience,” says Judit. “It helped me to improve my English, to show courage and confront difficult situations, and to improve upon my experience in the Building Engineering area.”
Judit now has a full-time job in Barcelona at an international engineering company called BAC Engineering Consultancy Group. Judit is very thankful to International Career Studies for helping her to jump-start her career. If you would like to start a new chapter in your life let International Career Studies help you to turn the page for your future.

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