Congrats, you've been offered an internship in...Tokyo? Buenos Aires? Bern? Los Angeles? Your dreams of living and working abroad are about to come true. But before you sign on the dotted line, it's imperative that you know a few things about the location, the job, and whether the decision to move away is right for you.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before signing or declining:
Can I afford to live in _________ on the proposed salary?
Research the cost of living in the city where you've been offered the internship. To do this, check out sites like www.expatistan.com and http://www.numbeo.com, which allow you to compare cost of living across different global cities as well as estimate how much you'll realistically need each month to live there based on your lifestyle.
Don't forget to factor in any student loan or debt payments when answering this question, and to find out if there is reliable public transportation or if you will need a car (answers may differ between larger European cities like Barcelona and American cities like Los Angeles).
Additionally, be aware of all of the benefits being offered with the internship. For example, does the company provide housing or meals for interns? If the answer is no, or if the internship is unpaid and you feel that you will not be able to make it work without going into debt, you may want to consider declining the job.
Will this internship lead to a full-time job?
It's great that you've been offered an internship in your field halfway across the globe. But it's important to consider what you will gain when it's over. While few internships come with a guarantee of full-time employment after completion, it will not hurt you to directly ask this question of the recruiter or hiring manager who has offered you the position. You can also ask them what percentage of former interns are now full-time employees. If a permanent position is not guaranteed or even considered likely, you should weigh the other compelling benefits of the position against this fact.
How will this internship help my career?
Just because the internship doesn't come with a guaranteed full-time job after its completion doesn't make it unworthy of your time. Specific questions to ask:
- Is the company a leader in its field? Will its name carry weight beyond the city or country where the internship is located?
- Will this position offer you daily hands-on work in your chosen field?
- Will you be able to use any work done during your internship as part of your portfolio? This question is more apt for creative fields, but having hard evidence to show off your accomplishments in any position is important in growing your career.
Are there any personal mitigating factors to consider before accepting?
Beyond the question of economics and experience gained, the effect that a move would have on personally is worth thinking over carefully. Factors like your health—and the health of your family members—as well as the cultural and political climate of your destination are important to consider when making this decision. Can you see yourself living and thriving there? Also, how will you emotionally deal with being thousands of miles away from your family and friends, perhaps for the first time in your life? Make sure your mental health is as ready as your C.V. to take the leap.