Many MNCs, the World Bank, the U.N. have programmes for students and they pay well too. So, start looking.

Very few people, if any, can honestly state that there was never a point of time when they wanted to explore the world. Most of us have to wait till we complete our education and go abroad for further studies or even later when our fat salaries will permit us to go on international vacations. However there is a little known third method to leave the country — through international internship programmes. They come in various shapes and forms but are all designed to ensure exposure to local culture.

Although most of these programmes pay a nominal stipend, the amount is just about sufficient to cover basic living expenses. So, it is important to start doing your research for applying to these programmes well in advance to have enough time to save up a little for the trip. It is also important to start the process early as most of the internship programmes have time-consuming application processes.

How to evaluate a programme

While trying to narrow down the ideal internship programme, you might want to be clear on what you want to gain from it. If you are looking at this internship as an opportunity to gain international exposure (or even a job) in your professional field, you should start with programmes which have specific professional focus. http://www.educationobserver.com/scholarships.htm is a good place to start your search.

Other factors you might be specific about include the location of the programme (for example, science and engineering students looking for internships in the U.S. can start their search from this website: http://www.indousstf.org/indousresearch/ind_stud.html), degree of cultural immersion (some programmes allow you to live with locals in their houses), degree of pre-trip job placement (while some programmes might be involved in finding a job, getting a visa and accommodation for you, the others will just get you local part-time work visas and require you to take care of other details) and of course the length of the programme. Once you have decided on the countries you want to visit, it might be a good idea to visit their Ministry of Education (equivalent) website or contact local representatives (like embassies or the British Library if the U.K. is the target country).

Several organisations, both online and offline, specialise in placing students and young people in programmes across the world. Transitions Abroad, Interns Abroad are some such organisations which offer a variety of exciting options for students to choose from.

Almost all major international bodies (like the U.N., the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and major multinational companies) have internship programmes targeting young people and students. These programmes might pay anything from nearly nothing to a sizeable compensation package. They generally require you to take care of your accommodation and transportation-related issues. Although they might prove expensive, they are excellent opportunities to get a foothold into these organisations and gain exposure to international work culture.

Teaching English

Although not well known in India, teaching English is a great way to earn your living while exploring a new country. Several developing countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America encourage native speakers of English (often from the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia) to come to their country to teach English. Knowledge of the local language is not required. However, in order to be eligible for most of the programmes, it is necessary to acquire Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Teaching of English Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification. You should be able to find more details about these certifications online.

Volunteer opportunities

There are several international volunteer programmes which target students and offer a wide range of professional (learning work-related skills like management and leadership) and personal (allowing you to experience new cultures) benefits. These programmes are generally in developing countries and take care of housing and meals but require you to cover the costs of participation. You can start your search with the websites of Global Volunteer Network and Volunteer Abroad.

Whether you are planning to go to a new country for a few weeks in the summer or for a whole year, whether you are just looking for an excuse to get to a new country (a programme in Australia encourages young foreigners to participate in activities like picking apples and shearing sheep) or are looking for exposure in your professional field, you will find the programme just right if you put in the right amount of time. If you start planning for your trip right now, you could be gazing at stars in Brazil same time next year as you lie thinking of this article.