Internship Programs in Europe
Guide to interning in Europe
Not only does an internship in Europe offer you the chance to experience beautiful landscapes and unique culinary cultures, but you’ll also gain first-hand experience and build an international network in locations where its rich culture not only embraces but precedes mass globalization.
Top Internship Industries in Europe
The economies of many European countries are not only robust but diverse, offering a wide variety of opportunities for those looking for internships in Europe. Landmark cities and economic goliaths such as Paris, Berlin, Madrid, London, and more call people from all corners of the globe to engage in their thriving business sectors.
Fashion capitals such as London, Milan, Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin establish Europe as an ideal destination for fashion interns to learn more about the industry and break into the international fashion scene, and learn about how different foreign environments incorporate fashion into its world.
Interns should keep in mind shows such as Fashion Week in each city when planning their fashion internship, so as to immerse in what their city has to offer.
Top cities for fashion internships:
- Paris, France: Often regarded as the fashion capital of the world and birthplace of haute couture, Paris is often considered to be the world’s fashion capital.
- Milan, Italy: Italy has a reputation for its elegance and classical beauty, as does its fashion hub Milan.
- London, UK: Although more newly established as a fashion capital, London is home to some of the most fashionable brands such as Burberry, Alexander McQueen, and many more.
Engineering is the backbone of any nation and is becoming more important as the world gets increasingly interconnected. An engineering internship in Europe is a great way to expose yourself to different methodologies and working styles, as well as get hands-on experience and connections.
With some of the world's top research centers located in Europe, you’re sure to find an opportunity to perform cutting-edge work and refine your skills in your specific field. Europe offers a panoply of options for engineering enthusiasts, and what determines the “best” European city for you will depend on the type of engineering you want to engage in.
Top cities for engineering internships:
- Paris, France: Cities such as Paris and Lyon are world leaders in aerospace engineering and robotics. Additionally, with brands such as Peugeot, Bugatti, Renault, and more, France is a fantastic location for automotive engineering.
- London, UK: Civil engineers may find that London is one of the best places to intern in the world, providing an abundance of opportunities.
- Berlin, Germany: Berlin is another hub for automotive engineering, establishing itself as a leading innovator in technology and in automotive engineering with brands such as BMW, Ford, Audi, Porsche, and more.
- Turin, Italy: A location which is highly popular and reputable for fields such as electrical and automotive engineering is Turin, Italy.
The world's largest multinational corporations have headquarters in Europe, as well as important local companies and banks. Business interns in Europe have the chance to gain experience working in an international and globalized environment.
In addition, open borders and economies in Europe provide great networking opportunities for business professionals. Whether helping to get a startup off the ground or getting your foot in the door of a major corporation, business internships in Europe have the chance to fast-track their careers and gain valuable industry experience.
Top cities for business internships:
- London, UK: As the world's 6th largest economy, London is one of Europe's premier business destinations and is particularly good for finance and public relations internships.
- Berlin, Germany: Germany is also a great location for finance internships, in addition to having great marketing opportunities in Berlin. Here, interns will embrace a business culture which emphasizes punctuality and perfectionism.
- Paris, France: If France is more your speed, check out a hospitality or marketing internship (68288) in Paris. As an economic hub, business internships in France are not only rife but optimal for those wanting to enhance their business experience and savvy abilities.
Europe's political scene is truly international, and each country has its own unique and dynamic political sphere and history. Whether working with the United Nations in Geneva, the colossal EU, or a local firm in your country of choice, political internships in Europe teach interns how to balance individual national interests with those of the continent as a whole.
Interning in politics will give you a unique understanding of your host country and a more nuanced view of its diplomatic and national operations. Gaining in-depth knowledge of your country's political history as well as the daily mechanics of political life, interns will gain valuable insight into their field as well as practical experience.
Top cities for political science internships:
- Brussels, Belgium: As the de-facto capital of the European Union, interns in Brussels will gain a wealth of experience in a city integral to the functioning of European politics.
- Geneva, Switzerland: Despite not being a capital city, Geneva is home to the United Nations, making it a significant location for international diplomacy and geopolitics.
- Paris, France: Home to UNESCO and the International Chamber of Commerce, Paris is an established location when it comes to enlightening political interns.
- Berlin, Germany: As the capital of Germany, the largest budget contributor to the European Union, Berlin will provide a comprehensive political experience for those who want to undergo an internship in Europe.
Popular Destinations in Europe
Although this region has a high cost of living, it also boasts of a high standard of living. Cost of living in this region, particularly the Scandinavian area, is extremely high – Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most expensive cost of living in Europe.
- Scandinavia: Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are popular options because not only do they offer a high living standard, it is very accessible to current students to find an internship in Europe, with popular industries including technical fields, business, and agriculture.
- UK and Ireland: Internships for foreigners are much more plentiful in the UK and Ireland. Popular industries for internships in the UK are engineering, fashion, and business. In Ireland, marketing and environmental internships are popular.
Composed mostly of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, this part of Europe is known for its hot climate, healthy diet, and relaxed lifestyle. This is the area for people who want hot weather and relaxing days spent on the beach when outside their internship.
- Italy: While Italy may have the highest cost of living in this region, internship positions in fields such as automotive engineering, hospitality, and fashion offer a diverse set of options for those searching for an internship in Europe.
- Greece: This country’s ancient population inspired much of Europe’s political and cultural movements. Popular internships include fields such as hospitality, medicine, and more.
- Portugal: Interns can acquire an array of skills in Portugal through internships such as data science, software engineering, or finance among others.
- Croatia: Breathtaking landscapes and tourist hubs such as Krka Falls and Dubrovnik means that Croatia is rife in positions in fields such as adventure tourism and hospitality.
- Poland: As a popular destination for teaching English and boasting a low cost of living, Poland attracts many interns and expats from all over the world.
- Czech Republic: As a must have addition to anyone’s travel plans throughout Europe, Czech Republic also offers many positions for internships in fields such as journalism and media, architecture and design, business law, and much more.
- Hungary: Bustling Budapest is not only a popular tourist destination but a feasible option for interns to gain experience in fields such as medicine, marketing, among others.
- France: While France has internships in most fields, interns who are looking for work in fields such as engineering, politics, business, fashion and politics will particularly benefit from work experience here.
- The Netherlands: With high English proficiency in the Netherlands, English speakers will have no shortage of options. Engineering, IT, and computer science internships are particularly prominent in this picturesque country.
- Germany: Formality and organization is at the forefront of Germany’s practices, and interns will experience the pinnacle of professionalism with internships such as medicine, engineering, business, and law.
Eastern Europe is home to beautiful mountain ranges, hearty food, and gorgeous snowy days. In general, this region tends to be the most affordable place to intern in Europe, so it is a great place to check out for frugal travelers.
Cosmopolitan cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Zurich can provide the perfect backdrop for your internship in Europe, regardless of your specialty. While the cost of living is high, so is the quality of life, and the level of English is far higher in these areas, making it more accessible for English speaking interns.
How to get an internship in Europe
Ready to start interning in Europe? Below we’ve outlined all you need to know to find and apply for internships in Europe.
Where to find internships in Europe
There are many different ways to search for an internship in Europe. Depending on your goals and needs, start by comparing these options:
- Internship placement program: Placement programs allow undergraduates to gain extensive experience in a field of their choice in the penultimate year of their studies, with placements lasting up to 12 months.
- University exchange program: Undergraduates may be able to find internships in Europe with their university’s partner through an ISEP (International Student Exchange Program).
- Scope out online job search websites: Here on Go Overseas you can filter by countries, industries, and timeframes in order to narrow down your options.
- Apply directly on the company's website: Perhaps the most straightforward option, you can search for the company in order to apply directly for their internship.
How to apply to internships in Europe
While requirements may be different depending on the country, industry, and so on, these are generally the steps you’ll need to follow to land an internship in Europe.
- Check that you meet the eligibility requirements, especially academic, language, and visa qualifications
- Prepare your application materials, such as your resume (CV), cover letter, portfolio, and/or personal statement of purpose
- Submit any necessary documents or paperwork, including academic transcripts from your home university and letters of recommendation
- Prepare for the interview!
Visa info for unpaid internships in Europe
Visa regulations will vary by country. Additionally, it is important to differentiate the process between those who are looking for paid or unpaid internships in Europe.
For unpaid internships, citizens from most countries may be able to enter Europe on a student visa in order to work on an unpaid internship. For example, Americans and UK citizens do not need a visa for stays fewer than 90 days (this applies to countries that are part of the Schengen agreement). However, they would not be able to obtain legal paid work with a tourist visa, only unpaid work.
Furthermore, Americans and UK citizens who are looking to complete a paid internship in Europe will likely require an official offer to work in order to obtain their visa. However, they are able to work on an unpaid internship on a tourist or student visa.
Citizens from EU countries will be able to relocate and work in other EU countries without needing a visa to work on a paid internship, as per the Free Movement of Labour.
Therefore, it is good to check with the country embassy as to whether you need a visa, even if you will be interning for fewer than 90 days in a Schengen country. For stays longer than 90 days and for countries outside the Schengen area, a long or short-stay visa, residence permit, and/or work permit may be required. The US State department has general entry and exit requirements listed for each country and is a good place to begin.
Work culture, language, and networking in Europe
Social rules regarding business etiquette vary widely by country as well as the type of internship. Just as a social media intern at a tech start-up presents herself very differently than someone interning with a law firm, so dress codes and hierarchical relationships within Europe have great variation.
In general, it is better to adopt a formal approach to begin with, and relax your style as you adjust and understand the etiquette of your specific country. Furthermore, communicating with someone local who is in a similar position as you is the best way to get advice on the finer points of office etiquette.
Over 200 languages are spoken in Europe. While English is a common second language in many countries, it's not a given that you will be able to get by in any internship with English alone.
However, there are many providers that will set English-speaking interns up with internships in various European countries, and also provide language instruction as a part of the package.
Nonetheless, speaking the local language(s) will give you an edge because it shows that you have cultural adaptability skills and also that you are suitable for long-term positions due to your fluency. If interns are not necessarily looking to improve their language skills, the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands are great countries for English-speakers to consider for internships.
Europe hosts many conferences, trade shows, symposia, and industry-related events. However, people can be introduced to someone professionally or personally before forming a business connection with them. In general, the best way to proceed is to form positive relationships within your workplace and your internship to connect you with others in your field.
View the latest intern placement postings on our job board.
When is the best time to apply for an internship in Europe?
Undergraduates who want to apply for summer internships in Europe may want to apply early in the year to secure their placements, whereas graduates and nongraduates may be more flexible in their search for internships in Europe as some providers hire year round.
When do internships typically start in Europe?
Different providers and industries mean that internships are always available. Some may offer summer internships, whereas others may hire interns all year round, so it is important to check with individual internship providers to learn about their start dates.
Do I need to be a university student to apply for an internship in Europe?
While some internships in Europe may require that their interns are currently enrolled in a university course as an undergraduate or graduate student, there are also plenty of other programs which do not require you to be a student or graduate to take part.
Are internships in Europe paid?
While you should be prepared that many internships provide non-monetary compensation like academic credit, it’s possible to find paid internships across various industries in Europe.Related Content
Do you need a visa to intern in Europe?
Visa requirements vary by country depending on the duration of the internship and work hours per week. Most internships will require some type of short or long-stay visa with work rights, so it's a good idea to check with your employer or home country embassy.
Where can I get an English-speaking internship in Europe?
With over 200 languages in Europe, the UK might be the most obvious English-speaking country in Europe. While knowing a second language is helpful, you can find internships for English speakers in many European countries including Ireland, Netherlands, and Spain.
What European countries are best for internships?
Some European countries and cities are more well-known for certain industries, so it depends on your preferred field. However, some popular countries include the UK, Germany, and Ireland for engineering and business, France and Italy for fashion, and Belgium and Switzerland for politics.