Other things being equal, the average employer would rather hire a graduate who interned at McKinsey USA than one who interned at a scrappy Nigerian startup. An international internship is that big of a deal.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s a feat reserved for a select few. Students who land internships at top companies like Goldman Sachs or Twitter aren’t any different from you. They mostly just approach the internship route differently.
We spoke to some students who have landed international internships in the past to learn how they did it. Here is what they had to say.
“LinkedIn helped me” — Femi
After taking an online course in data analysis, I searched for internship opportunities on LinkedIn. I was an active user and made sure I applied to data analysis internship roles at least once daily. Eventually, I landed a six-month internship with Global Commerce Media. Recently, I got an internship with AWS and am scheduled to resume next month.
“I had to freelance before I could land a role at Goldman Sachs” — Izu
The pandemic was a life-changing period for me; it was when I discovered I could make an international career off my computer science background. I was a computer science undergraduate, so taking and passing software engineering courses was easy.
After taking 4 courses on Udemy and Skillshare, I applied for internship roles in the US. Unfortunately, none of those applications were successful. This forced me to freelance on Upwork. But in 2021, a friend sent me a link to Goldman Sachs’ summer internship. Although initially hesitant, I applied and eventually got in. It was the best three months of my life.
“Having good grades made my application successful” — Aishat
My school is known for making law students stay at home for at least a year before heading to law school. So in my final year, I applied for almost every internship role I saw. Opportunities for Africans was my favorite website at the time. I was quite lucky because I got a couple of offers, including a New York law firm where I currently serve as an intern.
I think having good grades (I have a first class), existing experience (I had interned for 6 Nigerian law firms), and a great recommendation (from a lecturer) contributed to my success.
“I prepared myself right from my first year” — Aanu
Right from my first year at the university (2017), I had my eyes set on global investment banks. As a result, I represented my faculty at several competitions, at home and abroad. I was involved in lots of extracurriculars too.
By the time I was in 200 level, I had interned with two big 4 companies in Nigeria, giving me the confidence to apply to foreign companies like Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. My effort paid off: I interned at Morgan Stanley last year.