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  • Shaping a More Global Graduate or Professional School Experience

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    Article sponsored by Projects-Abroad.org

    Thinking about graduate or professional school? Whether you are still in the research phase and want to differentiate your application from the rest, or you have made your enrollment decision and want to do something different with your summer before you hit the books, consider taking the opportunity to Volunteer or Intern abroad. International travel, cultural immersion, and service to others can bring a unique perspective to your graduate or professional school experience in today's more global economy and society.

    Why Volunteer or Intern Abroad?

    Just as a growing number of college bound students take a gap year, or, time off between life stages, students going to graduate school can recreate a similar experience through an organized volunteer trip in communities across the globe. You can even identify internship opportunities to bring relevant job experience to your career path while working in a community that needs more resources. An increasingly popular option, a service project or intern experience abroad provides time for traveling, volunteering, learning a new language, or experiencing any number of other activities for personal growth.

    While there are many compelling reasons to volunteer or intern abroad, one of the most common is the opportunity for students to explore their interests and develop a purpose for their future. Students can take a break from intense coursework and focus on enriching life experiences.

    • Many students find that a global service project opens their eyes to the benefits of helping others. For students choosing to volunteer abroad, some of the benefits include:
    • Enlightening cultural exchange between the student and inhabitants of the host country
    • Making a real difference in the lives of the people of developing countries
    • The chance to make a positive impact on the environment.

    Service Project and Internship Options

    There are no rules when it comes to the types of global service projects or internships, so the possibilities are truly endless. Luckily, there are organizations that specialize in helping students organize their adventures. For example, some companies assist with everything from finding a host family, to setting up the volunteer project, to taking care of meals and travel insurance.

    Areas of focus students may choose from for their service project or internship activities include:

    • Animals
    • Archaeology
    • Business
    • Conservation
    • Education
    • Healthcare
    • Human Rights
    • International Development
    • Journalism
    • Sports

    Things to Consider

    As exciting as this travel opportunity may sound, there are several important issues to consider before embarking on an international service project or internship.

    • Whether to individually design a program or use the resources of an established organization—The freedom and independence of a self-designed program may appeal to some, but turning to one of the experienced providers can help alleviate logistical and safety concerns.
    • Students who weren't happy with the results of their graduate or professional school applications might choose to take time to travel to improve their test scores, develop a skill or reassess their list of target schools
    • Participating in a school's own study abroad programs—Some colleges and universities incorporate travel and coursework opportunities as part of, or in addition to, their curriculum. Many business schools offer courses during Spring Break, for example. Of course, graduate students can also apply for fellowships, such as the Fulbright Program for graduate students.
    • Thinking about goals—When planning your time away, consider how taking this time to learn more about yourself and the world can help you grow as a person and prepare to take on further challenges. Going into the year with personal goals will help you stay focused and work toward success, both during your travels and when you return.

    Featured Program: Projects Abroad

    Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad sends over 10,000 people abroad each year on a variety of service projects and internships overseas. All participants receive unparalleled in-country support from their full-time, professional staff to ensure that the experience is safe, worthwhile and fun. Destinations are available in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the South Pacific. Their Volunteer and Internship programs send thousands of people around the world every year. Learn More or request a brochure online.