International Degree vs. Internship: What’s Better?

International Degree vs. Internship: What's Better?

The fascination with studying abroad can never be underestimated. You’ve probably heard it from everyone: “If you make your way to a foreign country, you’re set for life.” While there is a little bit of truth in this, it’s a bit more work than just buying some airplane tickets. So, now the question begs to be asked: International degree vs. internship? Which is more valuable?

You’ll get tons of unsolicited advice for this question. Some will insist that a foreign degree is the gateway to becoming a millionaire, while others will try to convince you that there’s nothing better than foreign work experience.

We’re here to remove all doubt from your mind. Here are the pros and cons of both abroad experiences to help you decide which path is for you.

Degree Vs. Internship: Employment Opportunities

Before we broach the topic or degree vs. internship, it’s important that you understand your own preferences. Do you wish to work and settle abroad? Or do you wish to gather experience from a foreign country before returning home?

Your paycheck is another point of consideration. Some countries pay you more than others, and some have higher costs of living. Use this to determine your end goal as well.

Now, on to the debate of degree vs. internship.

  • Internship

Having internship experience adds value to your resume. It shows you have active experience in your field. But, does doing the internship abroad add extra value?

It does. An internship abroad shows that you are adaptable and work well when you’re thrust into new situations. You may also gain cultural experiences and learn new languages. Many organizations value this.

The Institute for the International Education of Students conducted a survey on its students who interned abroad. 84% of the respondents claimed that their experience abroad helped them build job skills. A whopping 89% reported getting a job within six months of graduation.

Continuing full-time in the same organization you interned with is a plausible outcome as well. So, an internship abroad is helpful whether you want to stay in that country, or wish to return home.

  • Degree

An international degree is respected in any field. It is looked upon with a sort of wonder. This is because an international degree will give you a global perspective.

Living in a foreign country by yourself also assists in personal growth. Because of this, tons of employers, even in your home country, will scramble over themselves to give you a job.

If you plan to stay in your country of study to work, you will need to make work visa arrangements in advance.

According to a study by IES Abroad, 93% of their respondents who studied abroad were able to find a job within six months of graduation. 46% had their first jobs secured before they even graduated.

Degree Vs. Internship: Costs and Finances

This is the factor that tips the scale for many enthusiastic students and fresh-out-of-school graduates moving abroad.

  • Internship

Let’s not pretend that you can make big money from an international internship. Even if you intern for a top-rated organization, you won’t make much money in an internship. But, you will be earning a buck or two.

Considering the stipend is fair, it might just cover your living expenses abroad. This will negate the need for taking out high-interest loans. Even if you do need to borrow money, it will mostly be a manageable amount to repay.

  • Degree

Studying abroad is a costly affair. Even if you manage to secure a scholarship, you will need to pay for additional expenses like housing, food, and travel.

The exact damage to your bank account will be determined by the country and your course. But, even if you move to a relatively cheap country, you should understand that you won’t be making much money for the duration of your course. So, you will need to take out student loans.

To many, this expense is an investment rather than a financial strain. If that is the case for you, then studying abroad could be a good choice.

The Personal Experience

People dream of going abroad not just for career goals, but to also experience a different side of life. Here’s how that experience will change depending on the purpose of your visit.

  • Internship

Most internships are fast-paced and demand a lot out of you. Since you have a responsibility to your employer to produce results, you may find that an internship is a lot more draining.

Interns are known for being overworked. So, between your hectic work hours and the day or two off that you get, you may not be have much time for play.

Traveling the country and seeing the sights is not always possible with only two days off per week. Learning and immersing yourself in the culture may prove harder than you think.

Working in a place where you don’t know the language is daunting. Do your best to pick up the new tongue quickly, or your work may suffer. Internships don’t usually offer classes to help you learn the language, but they do offer experience. You will be conversing with local-language speakers daily. This will speed up your learning process.

  • Degree

Most degrees are fast-paced and demand a lot out of you. But, remember, you have term breaks and a fair amount of time to yourself.

On top of that, study abroad and foreign exchange programs are usually tailored to allow foreign students to experience the country.

So, you’ll find more opportunities to experience the country as a student than as an employee.

If you’ve traveled to a non-English-speaking country, then learning the language will be a part of the experience. Many universities have language courses for international students, and since you’re probably living on your own, you’ll be forced to learn the language quickly.

Country-specific values

If you want to study cars, Germany would probably be your first country of choice. If culinary arts are your area of interest, then France would be the place to go.

Unless you get a work or study opportunity in a country that excels in your chosen subject, it might not be worth going.

Take this into careful consideration before you sign up for any international programs, and make your decision of degree vs. internship.

What does the jury say?

The fact is, neither option is better than the other when it comes to degree vs. internship. Both international degrees and internships are teeming with value. The matter boils down to what you stand to gain from the experience.

If it’s a good time that you’re out for, then studying abroad would be the better choice by far. But, if gaining career values is your goal, then an internship may be the answer for you. To reiterate, this does not mean you won’t have fun in an international internship, or that you won’t be adding to your career by studying abroad. It’s just that one has an edge over the other in its respective category. Degree vs. internship; it’s your choice.

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