Internship-traineeship: what kind of traineeships or internships do European universities offer to non-EU/EEA students?
Traineeships are an ideal opportunity to gain initial experience in the industry in which you want to establish yourself. Cooperation in this direction helps vocational guidance, demonstration of competences and establishment of contacts for possible permanent working relationships. Completing your studies in Europe does not guarantee you a job yet, but the traineeship opportunity is real and it depends on each student how much he or she will be able to put in the work and effort to find an traineeship and then get a job.
Internship and / or traineeship opportunities also depend on the student
Prospective employers, from academia, industry and other sectors alike, value internship experiences as a sign of initiative and the wider impact of different work environments, technical knowledge and research cultures. European universities also provide traineeship opportunities for their students, some include them in compulsory traineeship programmes in recent courses, while others provide traineeship opportunities even one year after their studies. Usually, each university has its own portal where students can find internship or traineeship offers, as well as information for companies looking for interns and so on. So it all depends on how much the student will be receptive to science and on his/her personal interest in finding a place of traineeship or internship. In order to get a general impression of what to expect while studying in one or another European country, we provide a brief overview of internship and traineeship programmes while studying in Europe.
An internship abroad provides great value for personal and professional development. EU funding programs help cover frequent additional costs. Austria can offer a really wide range of internships, the funding of which depends on the choice of field, period and so on. Universities such as the University of Innsbruck offer short, four-week free internships at a university or company. The minimum number of hours is 28.5 hours per week.
More internship offers, of course, can be found in the Austrian capital Vienna:
- Internships at other International Organisations in and around Vienna
- OPEC – Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries
- OSCE – Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
- The World Bank Vienna
- Internships at the United Nations in Vienna
During your studies in Belgium, you can take part in the following types of traineeships:
- compulsory traineeship as part of your study programme;
- elective internship as part of your study programme;
- voluntary traineeships that are not part of your degree programme. Most faculties allow voluntary traineeships under certain conditions.
You can conduct these practices in Belgium or abroad. During traineeship, the student will often be supervised by a faculty member acting as a link between the university and the recruiting organisation to ensure that specific learning and experience requirements are met. It is important to note that traineeships are usually allocated to masters or doctoral students, but active and motivated bachelors have the opportunity to benefit from voluntary internships abroad. What does voluntary mean? This means that funding is also from your personal funds, only in certain cases you can apply for an internship scholarship. And you should search for internships independently or by browsing the university’s vacancies portal.
Despite the higher tuition fees for international students, after entering the Danish university and having all the documents on visa, residence permit, etc. and demonstrating their skills at the Danish university, you become a legal student in Denmark and have all the opportunities for both studying and for internship or traineeship, as do local Danish students. And Danish internships are very well organised. For example, the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) offers internships to undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students. The traineeship programme is designed to support the research and professional development of trainees. Traineeship can be combined with the preparation of bachelor’s and master’s degree projects or doctoral studies. The duration of the internship usually ranges from four to nine months.
Or another example: all BEng students have to do traineeship at the company as part of their study programme. The traineeship lasts five months and can be paid. The recommended salary is DKK 15,000 per month.
Thus, Denmark selects international students quite carefully and requires a significant amount of their contribution to the education system fund, but becoming an equal Danish student can open up great opportunities for the future.
Like most European universities, Finnish universities try to include as many practical activities as possible in their programmes, and the acquisition of practical skills is best facilitated by traineeships in companies or internships abroad. For example, the Aalto Science Institute’s internship programme offers bachelor and master students employment opportunities first of all to participate in topical research, interact with the best research groups of Aalto University, and collaborate in an international environment. In support of the role of AScI in internationalisation, students from all countries can participate in internships. You will certainly find the most traineeships in Helsinki, the capital of Finland.
If you are studying in France, you should know that in many study programmes traineeship is an obligatory part of study, it can be conducted at a university (for example, a laboratory) or at an enterprise.
Ecole Polytechnique is one of the most expensive educational institutions in France, but it has an excellent internship programme. The international student internship programme gives bachelor’s and master’s students the opportunity to do a 3-6 month traineeship at one of the École Polytechnique’s research institutions.
If you’re studying in Paris, we have good news. Some academic programmes at the University of Paris include a compulsory traineeship period (in a company or laboratory). Under certain conditions, traineeship may be carried out abroad. In order to be able to conduct an traineeship abroad, the student must be registered at the University of Paris under a national diploma at the time of the application. Bachelor’s students are given the opportunity to participate in the traineeship during their studies. To check the internal procedures of the course to which the student is included, the student must contact the pedagogical secretariat of his/her study programme.
Favorable conditions for studying in Germany are created for all international students, and with this in mind, students often complete not only a bachelor’s degree but also a master’s degree. Why? Because, of course, that the master’s degree opens up much more opportunities to conduct a traineeship or receive an internship. Not only that, but you need to speak German to be successful in Germany, so a longer period of study in Germany can also give you the language skills that will definitely help you in your search for a job, traineeship or internship. The search allows you to find alternative internships by contacting various university career services, for example “WiSo” career service at the University of Cologne will help you if you are looking for an internship in Germany or abroad.
There are universities where students in certain areas are offered traineeship within the university, for example, the Heidelberg University Archive, as an independent institution, offers internships and traineeships (unpaid) to almost all academic departments. Students can conduct traineeship from 4 weeks to 3 months in the university archive. If the programme requires a traineeship of more than 3 months, this can be arranged. This traineeship is aimed at a target group of students – students of history or graduates of liberal arts.
Meanwhile, the Humboldt Internship Programme is an international short-term programme for business, experiential learning. It allows participants to work for three months with teams in research projects and university-related new companies. This programme is designed for advanced undergraduate students, as well as postgraduate students and doctoral students.
So universities really have offers for bachelors, but it is important to note that these internships and traineeships are usually unpaid, otherwise called – individual time placements.
In Greece, a significant number of internships are supported by European Union support programmes such as the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) or the AUTh Student Practice Programme within the framework of the Education and Lifelong Learning Program and co-financed by the European Union Social Fund) and national resources.
As for the AUTh Student Practice programme, this system is partly based on age and partly on merit, so every year from 20 to 30 students can gain valuable internships in public schools, publishing houses and other institutions. The programme provides for the payment of trainees’ salaries and their monthly insurance premiums to cover health and accident costs, but does not cover subsistence and accommodation costs. The programme provides students with training for a certain period, starting from one to four months, in private and civil services providing internships.
The internship programme at Greek universities can also be integrated as an optional course in the 8th semester of the school bachelor programme. Pupils are usually selected according to knowledge and grades.
To summarise, it can be said that the Greek practice and internship programs are available to both graduate students and undergraduate students. They are often not mandatory, but due to close cooperation between universities and companies — they are perfectly integrated into studies.
Italians perceive internships and traineeships as teaching and orientation tools that universities promote as an important opportunity to enter the labour market. To give you an idea, here are some options for a traineeship or internship at an Italian university:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) – Directorate-General for Promotion of the Country System (DGSP). The programme provides an opportunity to apply for an internship in one of the areas of competence of the DGSP. Following the traineeship, the University of Milan pays trainees a lump sum of EUR 1 500 as compensation for costs. This compensation is paid only on condition that a 3-month internship is completed and at least 6 CFU credits are set off in the trainee’s study plan.
- The University of Trento must promote internships not only for existing students, but also for recent graduates (for those who have completed their studies in the last 12 months). Thus, in order to include as many students as possible in the labour market, the University of Trento maintains close relations with recruitment agencies and work centres.
In principle, many Italian universities strongly encourage students to do internships by including it in their study programmes and allocating an appropriate number of study credits, and almost every Italian university posts messages on its portal both to students about internships or traineeships and to companies looking for interns. What’s also great is that all these offers are valid for students even a year after graduation.
Lithuanian universities also organise traineeships and internships for their students. The offer consists of two internship programmes: the ERASMUS+ Internship Programme and Smart Internship .
- The Erasmus + Programme is a Europe-wide student exchange program that provides students with the opportunity not only to improve their foreign language skills and intercultural skills, but also their working relationships. This programme is used not only by Lithuania, but also by many universities in other European countries.
- Smart Internship is organised in interdisciplinary teams of 5-7 students who solve real problems in organisations. The whole process is guided by an traineeship supervisor from the university and a mentor from the company. Students can conduct a traineeship voluntarily or as a mandatory traineeship if it meets the requirements. The record of the completed traineeship is included in the supplement to the student’s diploma. In addition, each student receives a smart apprenticeship diploma confirming the acquired competence and a company recommendation.
Meanwhile, if you have completed remote and totally free studies at the Baltic Institute of Technology, you have the opportunity not only to receive the IV European diploma, but also to enter an internship in Europe for a surcharge of 3000 euros. And this is not the usual internship or traineeship offered by universities — it is an opportunity not only to gain the necessary practical knowledge and skills, but also to successfully enter the labour market and get real job offers for starting your career. Moreover, the employer will also take care of your residence permit in Lithuania, all you need is to apply for a Shengen visa and purchase plane tickets to the country where you will train. Therefore, you can take this internship not as a short-term, a few weeks practice, but as a three-month trip towards a real and well-paid job.
While studying in the Netherlands and looking for an internship or traineeship opportunity as an international student, you may need to take special measures. Fortunately, in terms of internships or traineeships, the popular Erasmus University of Rotterdam (EUR) has many ways to help you prepare yourself for starting your career. Want to gain work experience during part-time work or internship studies in Rotterdam? — This university provides excellent conditions for this. However, keep in mind that your position as an international student is different from Dutch students.
Advice for international students:
- Side job or paid traineeship income will not cover the costs of your study or subsistence, so you must have generated a financial budget plan even before you come to study.
do not trust the income from side job to cover study and living expenses;
- You need to switch from private insurance to basic health insurance. It is a legal obligation;
- Employers are mostly looking for people who speak and/or understand Dutch;
- Non-EU/EEA students are subject to specific legal restrictions on the number of hours they are allowed to work;
- Non-EU/EEA students need to obtain a work permit.
As in all of Europe, it is popular in the Netherlands that the university has its own career platforms where students can navigate in search of attractive job, traineeship, internship offers. And for internships in other European countries, Erasmus+ can be applied again – here the best university students can expect grants to cover living costs abroad.
For those studying in Spain and interested in the opportunities for internships or traineeships during or after studies, it is very important to note the fact that almost all traineeships require knowledge of Spanish. So if you are going to study in Spain — get up and learn Spanish.
Additional traineeships in Spain: these are optional traineeships led by the Employment and Recruitment Office (CPEP). It is not part of a specific course programme and does not have ECTS credits. However, additional traineeship may be included in your European Diploma Supplement (DS). For additional internship, you must be registered with “ÍCARO” Work Practice and Recruitment Portal.
When students express their need for an international internship, they are redirected to Erasmus+.
Some Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes of Swedish universities provide an opportunity to include traineeship in the programme. Traineeship usually takes place in the third semester of the two-year programme and in the fifth semester of the three-year programme. Programme coordinators can often help students with contacts and advice on how to find a traineeship, but most often the student is responsible for their place of practice himself/herself. In programmes where the traineeship is not included in the curriculum, you can still choose to conduct the traineeship as an optional course. In this case, you should consult your programme coordinator to find out if there is an internship in your programme.
If you are unable to perform the internship as part of the programme (and earn academic credits for it), you can still find a traineeship, paid or free, outside your studies.
In most Swiss universities undergraduate course, students have the opportunity to conduct a traineeship, for which 3-6 ECTS credits can be awarded. Meanwhile, internships abroad are organised by the already mentioned Erasmus+ and STREAM (Student Research Mobility Programme), the European Student Research Mobility Programme, designed to facilitate student research exchanges between the institutions of the European League of Scientific Universities (LERU).
When studying in the UK, the traineeships and internships you take part in will usually depend on the university you choose. Each university has its own policy and individual system. In order to develop a personal approach to future career and labour market integration opportunities, evaluate and offer internship and traineeship programmes before choosing studies in the UK. Here are some examples:
- Traineeship schemes of the University of Bristol. The Career Service carries out two internship schemes enabling the acquisition of quality, paid work experience from small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, including charities, social enterprises and start-ups. There are also always various schemes of summer internships that university students can perform during their holidays. This can range from working in a large international corporation to supporting a local small or medium-sized enterprise (SMEs). Each programme will have different requirements and will be available to students at different stages of study, but all provide valuable opportunities for developing skills.
- Students on theQueen Mary London Practice Programme take three Queen Mary modules and are placed on internships instead of their fourth module. Students complete a traineeship alongside their studies and attend a seminar/lesson at Arcadia London related to the traineeship. “Arcadia” gives four credits for the internship.
- The University of Aberdeen Internship is an award-winning summer internship programme exclusively for undergraduate students at the University of Aberdeen. Trainees complete a 10-week project in one of the university’s professional services departments. Successful traineeship completion is recorded as an accredited and improved internship description. Aberdeen internship is a paid 10-week summer traineeship programme. To apply, you must be a registered bachelor student at the University of Aberdeen. If you have completed a previous Aberdeen internship or traineeship, unfortunately you cannot apply for an Aberdeen traineeship.