Not only is completing an internship abroad a rewarding experience, it helps you gain valuable experience in your field. While studying abroad at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, New Zealand for a semester, I was a part-time intern at Vitality Works Workplace Health and Wellness. The company designs lifestyle programs for adults throughout New Zealand, such as: nutrition, exercise, work, and overall lifestyle. As a nutrition and dietetics major, this internship was a perfect fit for me.
I studied abroad through the third party provider, GlobaLinks, which offers study abroad and internship combination programs in Australia, New Zealand, China, and Spain. Study and internship combination programs means the participant still takes courses at their host university for academic credit while completing the internship, however, there are internship only programs available. I applied the same way that I would have for a normal study abroad program, except I also had to submit a resume showing my relevant experience as well as a statement of purpose that described what kind of internship I was looking for. GlobaLinks then worked with my host university to find a company that fit my goals and sent me information allowing me to accept the internship, or, request to find a new placement that I felt would be a better fit.
I then picked my start date and met with the company along with the AUT internship coordinator to determine my duties as an intern as well as the project I was required to complete for the company lasting the entire 12 weeks of my internship. My project became an analysis and review of one of Vitality Works’ lifestyle intervention programs. I used research and company resources, as well as client interviews and site visits, to complete my project; I then presented the company with a report describing in detail my analysis of the program, strengths and weaknesses, and suggestions for improvement. The company actually implemented the suggestions I gave to encourage better client results!
My favorite experience during my internship was getting to know the people I was working with, as well as the clients who were participating in the lifestyle change programs. Unrelated to my personal project, I got to help the company complete health screenings over several weeks at different participating companies, a great way to become more culturally integrated and learn more about the health field. One of the reasons I entered the field of nutrition was to help encourage and give people the tools to make positive health changes. I spoke several times with a program participant who lost 30 pounds and quit smoking through a lifestyle program that Vitality Works offers!
Through my internship I learned a lot about my own area of study as well as what it is like to work in an area of nutrition and health promotion. I believe my internship experience will be an advantage when I enter the workforce in any career that I end up pursuing. The internship also did not take away from my study abroad experience at all; I still had plenty of time to travel and have fun! For more information about internships in Australia, New Zealand, China, and Spain through the GlobaLinks program, you can visit www.gointernabroad.com
Other opportunities for internships outside of these countries are also available. For more information you can go to the Clemson Study Abroad website. www.clemson.edu/studyabroad. All of the third party providers that Clemson works with can be found on this website. Some third party providers to look for that offer internship placements include ISA, GlobalLinks, CIS Abroad, Arcadia, and USAC.
Photo from Mount Eden, New Zealand