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When most people start searching for an internship, their first thought is to impress future employers, college professors, teachers, or even friends and family. How can an internship benefit you personally though?

This is both one of the biggest and most overlooked aspects of an internship experience. Yes, internships will boost your resume. Yes, they’ll open up new career opportunities. Truly though, these things pale in comparison to the potential impact of an internship on personal development — especially a purpose-driven nonprofit internship abroad.

In this article, we’ll try to capture all you stand to gain from the personal impacts of internships. We’ll answer questions like ‘Is interning abroad worth it?’ and ‘What are the personal benefits of an internship with a nonprofit or purpose-driven organization?’.

Of course, the main reasons to take on an internship are to do with professional development. There are critical knowledge, experience, and skills you should expect to gain from an internship, which should be your main focus when searching for internships.

However, the challenges you face, the obstacles you overcome, the people you meet, and everything else you’ll encounter along the way can have profound effects on you too. This is where you’ll discover the personal impacts of internships.

Here Are the Impacts Of An Internship On Personal Development

1. Discover Your Passion

While career exploration is part of an intern’s professional development, it can also be one of the biggest personal impacts of internships. Finding a job that gives you a sense of purpose and drive can affect more than just your career, it can shape your whole life trajectory.

Due to their short-term nature, internships are a great opportunity to explore more out-there career paths you might not be able to commit to otherwise. If you’re a college student wondering what to do with your summer break, you could discover and pursue your passion with a summer internship and still have some vacation spare time.

You could spend a few months as a nonprofit photographer, a political advocate for female empowerment, or a conservationist. Along your internship journey, you’ll discover more of the world, realize new possibilities available to you, and something that had always seemed a fantasy could become your reality.

2. Develop Independence and Drive

This tends to be the biggest impact of an internship on personal development for young interns. Taking your first steps in the working world is instrumental to professional development, but it can also equip young interns with the tools and life skills to navigate the world.

In a sense, by finding and securing your internship, and then planning the trip for an internship abroad, there is a chance to practice the process of making things happen. This may sound like a funny way of putting it, but the ability to make a plan and stick to it is a valuable life skill.

Equally valuable is the confidence and self-belief you’ll develop through the process of interning. With internship experience under your belt, you’ll feel empowered and emboldened to chase the things you really want in life.

3. Practice Social Skills and Relationship Building

Ask most people ‘How can an internship benefit you?’ and they will likely mention people skills. Look through the most recent internship reviews, and almost all of them will mention the people they met and the friends they made. Internships can improve your people skills by connecting you with people from different walks of life and giving you a reason to introduce yourself.

Over the course of any internship, an intern will learn to navigate dozens of social situations as they introduce themselves hundreds of times to various colleagues, superiors, customers, stakeholders, and more. As they move through these experiences they will pick up social skills that help in all aspects of life, not just their careers.

The people you meet during your internship could be valuable career contacts, helping you to navigate your professional life. Equally important, they could be future friends or pen pals. Moreover, the ability to build rapport, establish connections, and maintain relationships is something worth practicing.

4. Broaden Your Perspective

When completing an internship you expect to learn new skills and jobs, but an internship can introduce you to a lot more than that. An internship is a chance to explore the unknown and discover new possibilities— especially an internship abroad.

This is one of the main reasons that the answer to the question, ‘Is interning abroad worth it?’, is a resounding yes. Travel broadens the mind. Of course, any internship can be eye-opening, but when you combine that with the personal benefits of internships abroad, the experience can be truly perspective-shifting.

As you immerse in the culture and integrate with local communities you’ll learn a different way of life that you can contrast and compare with your own. In this way, an internship encourages you to question your priorities and values in life and reassess what’s really important to you.

5. Global Awareness

Global awareness, and its ever-growing significance in modern life, is another reason to answer ‘yes’, when asked ‘Is interning abroad worth it?’. In today’s globalized life, this is more than just an employable trait, it’s a fundamental life skill.

Global awareness is more than just keeping on top of international news events. To truly understand and appreciate the forces and trends that shape our world requires lived experience. That’s why the best way to learn more about a country is to travel there and actively engage in the issues that affect people there— i.e. If you want to learn more about South Africa, plan a meaningful internship in South Africa and experience it first-hand.

To add to the impact of an internship on personal development of global awareness, consider interning with nonprofits or initiatives that address pressing global challenges such as climate change, poverty, and social justice.

6. Cultural Competency

Once again, is interning abroad worth it? Yes, for cultural competency. As mentioned, internships abroad involve immersing yourself in different cultural experiences, engaging in meaningful conversations with people from diverse backgrounds, and actively seeking to broaden your understanding of the world.

By developing cultural competency, you not only become more open-minded and empathetic but also better equipped to navigate the complexities of modern multicultural societies. You learn to communicate more effectively across cultural boundaries, build stronger relationships, and contribute positively to creating more inclusive environments for everyone.

7. Confidence and Resilience

How can an internship benefit you regardless of which internship you pick, what you do, where you go, and everything else? Even if your internship is a complete failure in every other sense, it’s all lived experience and it all contributes to a well-grounded sense of confidence and self-reliance. Even if you fall flat on your face, you’re still moving forward.

The greatest impact of internships on personal development is that they necessitate and encourage an active, ‘go-getter’, mentality. They put interns in a position to take on responsibility, seize opportunities, and pursue their goals. There are many personal benefits of internships, but learning these lessons is one of the reasons internships are important.

3 Internships That Will Help Your Personal Development

1. Sustainable Development Micro-Internship In Costa Rica

Join this accelerated program for a whistle-stop tour of the world-leading conservation and sustainability efforts of Costa Rica. This is the ideal internship for the young eco-warrior and conservationist looking to gain rapid exposure to a broad range of sustainability practices and disciplines.

This two-week micro-internship begins with a week of seminars and workshops with globally renowned industry experts, then continues onto a remote nature reserve where you’ll gain practical experience in implementing conservation models. By the end of the process, you’ll have gained broad insights into sustainability and earned diverse knowledge and skills.

2. Social Welfare Internship in the Philippines

This versatile program is one of our best social work internships letting you engage in a diverse range of social welfare and community development tasks. These internships provide fantastic development for people interested in criminology, law, social work, psychology, or education.

You’ll work with a nonprofit with expansive partnerships in Tacloban working to improve social welfare and alleviate poverty in the city. As an intern, you’ll provide guidance and assistance to individuals facing challenges and leading workshops on important subjects including basic education, vocational training, sports, public health, and a range of social issues.

3. Impact and Water Waste Research Internship in Germany

This is a unique opportunity to help address an overlooked niche of the climate crisis while earning valuable research skills and experience. This program places you with a nonprofit dedicated to combating water waste in the textile and fashion industry and has you supporting the creation of impactful communication.

Your role will be to gather data and information on water waste in these industries and research potential solutions to these issues. You’ll play a big part in a small team, gain behind-the-scenes insight into the running of a nonprofit, and build knowledge on a range of fascinating topics.

Intern Abroad and Enjoy Personal Growth!

So, you know the impact of an internship on personal development and why it’s a good idea to do one. Now, a brief word on why join Roots for an internship.

With Roots, not only do you have a selection of purpose-driven, meaningful internship experiences with incredible nonprofits, community-led entities, and grassroots initiatives, but you also have comprehensive support throughout the process. Join Roots and we’ll guide you through every step as you search for, select, secure, and enjoy your internship.