Internships and Volunteer Opportunities Abroad

Volunteering abroad can be a great way to contribute to the global community and foster personal growth, and there are a wide range of opportunities available with many different organizations. Teaching abroad allows you to become integrated into a foreign culture, while helping your own students communicate in a global culture. Additionally, abroad internships are wonderful opportunities to use the theoretical or academic training you will receive at Barnard in a practical setting. Please see below for more information on ways to volunteer, teach and intern abroad. Please contact the Office of Career Development if you would like to make an appointment to discuss individual plans to volunteer, teach or intern abroad.

Volunteering Abroad

Many students seek to volunteer abroad to get international experience in a field of interest; learn about development issues; learn about another culture, language and way of life, while making a positive contribution; see a part of the world in a different light; or increase their personal marketability. You can go for a long or short-term placement, individually or with a group. For some opportunities, you pay for the experience; sometimes your travel or living expenses will be covered. If you have development experience, you can apply to be a project leader or for a grant to fund your own project. Whatever your experiences, in most volunteer positions you will find yourself presented with a wealth of possibilities beyond those outlined in the job description and you will be able to stretch your ingenuity and creativity.

Teaching Abroad

After graduation, there are many ways in which students can teach abroad, whether it be teaching English as a primary, foreign or second language. When evaluating where you want to teach, consider the training and experience required for the country, school or program you are looking at and understand that teaching positions for Americans vary from country to country. Additionally, teaching abroad does have its risks and students should be aware schooling systems abroad can differ significantly from those in the United States.

Before teaching abroad, a few things to consider:

  • Being trained to teach English is highly recommended, it makes you significantly more marketable and in better position to be an effective teacher;
  • Before you even begin thinking about training it is recommended that you first look at the requirements of the countries and regions you are hoping to teach in because they can vary;
  • There is a multitude of different training courses, varying in cost and preparation, and careful research is needed before choosing to invest in a course.

Some questions to ask about training programs include:

  • Is there external validation of the course?
  • How much opportunity is there for teaching practice?
  • What will the size of the class be?
  • What qualifications and experience do the tutors/teachers have?
  • How long will my certification last?

Types of TEFL Certificates (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)

Cambridge Certificate (CELTA): This certificate has a solid reputation in the international teaching community and high levels of recognition among employers around the world. The certificate is not only offered in the UK, it is also offered in a number of countries around the world. They offer certificates a variety of levels and certificates to teach to a variety of ages.

Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL): This certificate is regarded as having equal standing as the Cambridge Certificate. It also offers training in a multitude of centers around the world. Trinity stipulates a minimum of 130 hours offered intensively over a minimum of four weeks or part-time over a long period. Also the future teacher must take a learning pre-course and requires observed and assessed teaching hours.

There are other TEFL certificates offered online and through other schools. It is highly recommended that you carefully investigate and research the certificate before you commit yourself to the program. There are also Training and Placement programs that will provide you with certification and a teaching placement. Many of these programs have costs associated with them and careful research should be done before investing your time, money and energy.

Training and Placement Programs

Posting Sites:

Additional Resources:

Interning Abroad

Many students want to learn first-hand the experience of taking the skills they have developed at Barnard to a more global context through study abroad and/or internships. While interning in organizations or companies in the United States can prepare you to work here, it is important to gain experience and knowledge through cultural immersion if you plan to live or work abroad in an international company or organization. In addition to practical experience, you can travel and get cross-cultural and language training, gain invaluable exposure to international industry, and network overseas and get contacts for further employment.

Tips for Interning Abroad

Before going abroad consider the following:

  • What are your goals for your internship? Related to your academic work or a study abroad program? Pre-professional experience? Cross-cultural understanding? Other reasons?
  • Do you want to do your internship during the semester or the summer following an academic study abroad program?
  • If so, does your study abroad program have internships embedded in their program?
  • Discuss your interest with the Dean for Study Abroad to see if she has information on the experiences of students who attended your program previously or if she has names of alumnae who might be helpful to you.
  • Look at resources in the Career Development library and online on the Career Development website, including the following:
    • Internship Opportunities packet, a list of organizations offering opportunities;
    • Internship Evaluation binders;
    • Mentor database of Barnard alumnae who might be willing to assist you in locating an internship.

If you are already abroad:

  • Don't rush into an internship; you will want to be clear about your time availability before making a commitment to an internship/service opportunity;
  • Speak with faculty, staff and students at your host school or program to see if they have useful connections;
  • Contact Barnard alumnae; refer to the Alumnae Affairs website to find the name of the local club president or email the Dean for Study Abroad or Career Development staff for assistance in locating graduates who may be helpful to you.

Resources and advice to locate international volunteer and internship opportunities:

  • Direct Contact: Research organizations or companies that interest you and inquire about international opportunities.
  • Past Students / Alumnae: Career Development and/or the Dean for Study Abroad are two campus resources for locating particular students or alumnae that have experience a particular country.
  • eRecruiting: Career Development's database for searching for jobs and internships also gives you terrific access to articles and helpful information through The Vault and their section on studying, working, and teaching abroad.
  • Idealist: Search for worldwide internship opportunities by location, dates, and required skills.
  • Volunteers for Peace: VFP is a nonprofit membership organization. Their goal is to work toward a more peaceful world through the promotion of International Voluntary Service (IVS) projects, historically known as International Workcamps, and the exchange of volunteers.
  • CDS International: CDS is a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of international practical training opportunities for young professionals, students, educators, as well as labor, business and government representatives. See lists of program offerings.
  • Council on International Educational Exchange: The CIEE website has links to international faculty development seminars, annual conferences, gap year programs, and professional training opportunities for young professionals.
  • Global Volunteer Network: The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) offers volunteer opportunities in community projects throughout the world. They currently provide volunteer programs through partner organizations in 21 countries. The network continues to expand with new programs currently being researched and assessed.
  • Stirring the Fire: is a free resource for intern, volunteer and study abroad opportunities within programs that focus on the empowerment of women and girls, especially in the developing world.
  • Intern Abroad: Listings and informational resources for students wishing to intern or volunteer abroad.
  • is a global database of internships and entry-level positions for students, recent graduates and career changers.
  • International film and TV production resources.
  • ReliefWeb: the world's leading on-line gateway to information (documents and maps) on humanitarian emergencies and disasters, including calls for action and opportunities to engage.
  • Internships USA: Internship opportunities resources with a section on International Affairs internships.
  • Volunteer Abroad: A bimonthly magazine for those interested in working, studying, and living abroad. Available in the Career Development library.