Interning internationally: resume building goes worldwide


Victoria Pfefferle-Gillot | Contributing Writer

The London skyline appears backlit on a cloudy day.

By Victoria Pfefferle-Gillot, Staff Writer

Studying abroad is something many college students dream of doing. But students may encounter the obstacle of needing work experience and internships to boost their postgraduate job prospects. This issue tends to force students to stay stateside for their summers.

But this doesn’t have to be the case for students at Pitt — resumé boosting can be done abroad through Pitt’s internship abroad program.

A.J. Weber, a 2017 English writing graduate, spent his final semester of college in London and graduated in the winter.

“I interned with Dennis Publishing, which is one of the U.K.’s largest media companies, doing marketing and publishing,” Weber said.

His experience with Dennis Publishing proved to be beneficial for his future professional career, as he currently has his own website development and design firm for small businesses and is also a designer for a separate small, business-oriented design firm.

“The internship affected me personally by giving me not just a broad cultural experience with Londoners and Europeans, but it also granted me insight into my identity as an American and a global citizen of a larger, interconnected global economy of partnerships, trade, competition and camaraderie,” he said.

While in London, Weber also put together a creative series of his photos and poetry entitled “Smoke From an Unseen Fire” that was displayed at the CAPA Global Education Center during a globalization conference this past November. These photos can now be found on his photography website,

“I gained valuable connections with extremely talented people who I have come to respect greatly,” he said. “I’ve also gleaned broader cultural experience through interactions with co-workers both inside and outside of the workplace.”

Students pursuing almost any discipline, whether it be writing, engineering or premed, can find study abroad programs that count toward their majors — but the internship opportunities are promising for experience and resumé building.

“Our internships cover a range of different interests and fields,” Gisselle Arce, resource area advisor for Pitt Study Abroad, said. “We have had students who have done internships working for the BBC in London or Marketing for IBM in Portugal.”

Arce shared that some students are unsure of how to go about finding internships abroad, given that finding one here in Pittsburgh can be a daunting task on its own.

“The best way to ensure that you select a program with the best option for you is to sit down with one of our program managers and explain the professional goals that you would like to accomplish on the program,” Arce said.

While the Study Abroad office is currently finalizing numbers for the past 2017-18 academic year, Arce said Pitt sent 262 students abroad for internships in the 2016-17 academic school year.

“Every student has a different experience when they do an internship abroad,” Arce said. “However, the most common thing I have heard from students upon their return is that they have learned more about themselves and the specific goals they want to achieve in their professional career.”

Kurt Clements reflected on his own experience when he went to the United Kingdom to intern with Alcohol Concern U.K., an alcohol health awareness charity, through Pitt’s Global Business Institute program.  

“Probably the biggest thing that I learned from my internship was how to work with people from completely different backgrounds,” the current senior said. “As an intern, I mostly worked with the social media and communications, so I had to be mindful of not only the different business culture in the U.K., but also the drinking culture, especially when dealing with some of the more sensitive or heavier topics.”

Clements noticed the differences between the U.K. and the U.S. in many ways while abroad, including in the workplace.

“One thing that is different is that less time is spent ‘working.’ That’s not to say Brits don’t get the job done, but a lot of my co-workers would come in at different times, and mostly be gone at 5,” he said. “There were a lot more tea breaks as well, and it was more normal to stop working to have a quick chat or socialize with your co-workers. It was a bit tricky to get to unwind a bit and stop focusing solely on my work.”

Clements also noticed differences in how co-workers interacted with each other, which turned out to be a delightful change from some workplace environments in the United States.

“There’s the stereotype that the English are very polite, and it exists for a reason,” Clements said. “While an American boss might tell you when you were wrong or had messed up directly, an English boss might tell you in a way where you didn’t realize you were even wrong.”

Although his specific internship dealt with some of those heavier topics, it did not deter from his chance to spend time outside of the country. When asked if other students should take the same opportunity he had, his face lit up with a smile.

“Absolutely,” Clements said. “Not only is it a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it really adds something special to your resumé.”

Arce echoed this belief, sharing that the benefits of doing an internship abroad range far beyond gaining professional experience in the field that they plan to pursue.

“Doing an internship abroad comes with its own lessons,” she said, “such as intercultural communication, intercultural competency skills, learning how to be adaptable, becoming familiar with ambiguity and understanding that work culture norms are not universal.”