Money makes the world go around, and if you're looking to enter an exciting field with lots of potential, finance is a good way to go. Finance internships are a way of getting your foot in the door. And if you're eager to find a way to get some international experience under your belt, then you're in luck. There are a number of finance internships that can take you around the world.
But what's the status of an international intern? Are finance internships considered employment? Will you need a work visa? Or could you use your internship to acquire one? These are complicated questions, and the answers will depend on a number of factors. Nevertheless, no matter how you slice it, international finance internships are a fantastic experience that can lead to a diverse, interesting, and often lucrative career.
What are Finance Internships?
Internships are temporary employment programs that companies typically offer to students or recent graduates. Some internships combine work and study. Others involve work only. An employer may pay you to intern with their company. They may also expect you to work for free. Some internships even require the participant to pay for the experience.
Companies often use internships to groom potential employees for a future position within the company. Interns gain a hands-on, working knowledge of the company, and make important contacts. It's a low-risk arrangement with lots of potential benefits for both companies and interns. According to Investopedia, students who served as paid interns had a definite advantage in the job market after graduation. What's more, in one survey, 63 percent of paid interns received a job offer from their host company once the internship was finished.
Finance internships are temporary, low-level, paying or voluntary employment programs in the finance industry. But, as you can see, they can, and often do lead to much better things.
What do finance interns do?
That's a complicated question with a lot of answers. The field of finance is vast, and the range of jobs is diverse. You might work in accounting, credit, banking, trading, sales, financial services, or other fields. And, of course, your day to day work will depend on your field and your company's needs.
But it's not just fetching coffee and sandwiches. According to one study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, finance interns spend around 42 percent of their time doing what their education trained them to do. And that's important.
If you're considering an internship in this field, the best thing to do is to research finance internships with different companies and see which ones sound like a good fit. Many universities have career guidance counselors, or even internship counselors, who can give you more information. Once you've narrowed down a short list of finance internships, these same counselors can help you tailor your application to give you an edge on the competition.
Are finance internships a form of employment?
From a visa perspective, finance internships, or any other kind of internships, are considered employment. What's more, in many countries, if your internship includes both a study and a work component, you'll need both a study visa and a work visa.
Does that mean you can't do your internship on a tourist visa, or in a country that doesn't require a visa for a short-term stay? That's a gray area. If your company is paying you, your internship is absolutely employment. You will very likely need a work visa. If you're accepting an unpaid internship abroad, you would be wise to consult the consulate or embassy of your target country well in advance of departure to clarify the rules for your situation. Immigration trouble is the last thing anyone wants.
Internships, Visas, and Immigration Status
What kind of visa will you need for an internship? Will the company that provides your internship deal with it? These are important questions, and, unfortunately, the answers will vary from internship to internship, as well as from country to country. Below, we've collected the information for some of the most popular areas for American expats. Please note that this information may not apply to every country in that geographical area. If you're considering an internship abroad, always check the regulations for your specific country.
It's easiest, of course, if the company offering the internship offers to acquire your visa for you or sponsor you. But if you find yourself responsible for your own visa, here is some information you can use.
Canada has a special work permit for interns. To apply for this permit, you must already hold a valid study visa. In addition, the employment part of your internship cannot be more than 50 percent of the program.
If you have studied at one of a number of specific institutions, you can also apply for a post-graduation work permit. How long this permit is valid depends on the length of your course of study.
If neither of these applies to your experience, you can also apply for one of two general employment permits.
The United Kingdom has a complicated visa system, with many tiers, even within the work visa category. It's best, of course, if the company that offers your internship handles the visa arrangements for you. If your internship is through an educational institution, then you may qualify for a student visa. A student visa will allow you to work up to 20 hours per week.
If you're still looking for an internship, one good place to find one is through BUNAC, the British University North American Club. You can search their website for internships and other information. And they'll even help you get the visa you need.
Most UK visas take several months to complete. Also, be aware that visa applicants will need to pay a mandatory fee to cover any potential medical treatments by the National Health Service. You must pay this fee whether you have private insurance or not.
Americans can stay in twenty-five different European countries for up to three months without a visa. Whether you're allowed to work during this time depends upon the country, so check regulations carefully. Some countries, like Germany, require interns to have both a study visa and a work permit, if the internship is through an educational institution.
If this research seems overwhelming, you might consider checking out an internship portal, like Go Overseas. There, you can search for internships that will offer visa assistance.
Asia is enormous, and each of its many countries has its own visa requirements. Singapore is a popular destination. First, it's a center for international business. Several world-class companies offer internships there, including Goldman Sachs. Also, English is one of the country's official languages. Finally, visas are relatively inexpensive. But you must plan ahead. Participants in finance internships in Singapore may qualify for a student visa, a training work permit, or a work holiday pass, depending on your program.
Always check with your country of destination to see what sort of documentation you'll need. And remember to leave plenty of time in case you encounter any problems.
How to Find Finance Internships Abroad
It's not difficult to find finance internships. You can go through your college or university, research specific companies and apply through them, or search for internships through clearinghouses like StudyAbroad.com and International Internships. But there's a lot of competition, and you need to make your application as competitive as possible.
If you've found a few finance internships that appeal to you, make sure you have the education your company is looking for. Some internships are for students in or just out of high school. Others are for university students. Still others are for graduates. Some companies even have internships for mid-career level adults who are thinking about switching careers.
At any level, though, you'll need to demonstrate academic achievement in key areas, whether it be finance, economics, business, or another area.
Different finance internships will want skills specific to their field. However, all of them will expect the following, at minimum:
- Good interpersonal skills
- Good oral and written communication
- Analytical ability
- Problem-solving skills
- Computer literacy
Personality traits and characteristics
Working in the finance industry takes a special type of personality. And living abroad has its own challenges. Are you that unique individual who can do both? Here are a few personality traits that your potential company will be looking for.
- Initiative. Companies want an independent worker who is a self-starter
- An eagerness to learn
- Critical thinking
Also, many financial firms value stability and reliability. It would be well worth your while to carefully curate your online presence before applying. Take down any photos, tweets, posts, etc. that might give a conservative employer pause.
Is a Finance Internship in Your Future?
Finance is a fast-paced, exciting, lucrative field. It can take you to some of the most exciting places around the world -- and in the United States. Do you think you have what it takes to do a finance internship abroad?