The number of Georgia Institute of Technology students participating in overseas internship programs reached new heights in the 2016-17 academic year providing them with practical work experience while developing cross-cultural skills.
Jennifer Evanuik Baird, director of Georgia Tech’s global internship program and international plan, told Global Atlanta that the global internships also allow Georgia Tech to expand its networks and reputation around the world with students interning in more than 45 countries.
The university’s Office of International Education has announced that 188 students experienced the global internships during the past academic year, a 25 percent increase over the 2015-16 total of 150.
Seventy-two percent or 135 of the students were undergraduates, 15 percent; 29, were students pursuing master’s degrees and 13 percent, 24, were students pursuing doctorates.
The internships, according to Ms. Baird, must be “experiential” involving full-time corporate responsibilities, research or service projects.
Georgia Tech’s global positioning strategy, she added, underscores the university’s commitment to fostering global intern experiences for its more than 25,000 graduate and undergraduate students.
The plan calls for the university “to expand its global footprint and influence, graduate good global citizens and position the institution among the most highly respected technology-infused learning institutions in the world.”
The university opened its first overseas campus, Georgia Tech-Lorraine, in Metz, France, in 1990. Since then it has added global centers in China, Singapore, Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico. It also has collaborations with institutions in 80 countries and institutional partnerships in more than 30 countries.
Georgia Tech’s president, G. P. “Bud” Peterson, in his public appearances often cites the 52 percent of each graduating class who have spent a semester or more abroad.
“We know that top employers are seeking college graduates with international experience and intercultural skills,” Dr. Peterson said during his remarks at the 25 anniversary celebration of the Georgia Tech-Lorraine founding.
“A survey of Georgia Tech alumni a few years back found that 60 percent hold positions where they frequently work with multinational groups,” he added.
“We must ensure that each graduate is increasingly aware of the challenges of sustainability and can act to positively impact the world around them in any complex, multi system, multi-stakeholder and multicultural setting. Working, studying and researching abroad in these settings is the optimal environment for ensuring that we are doing just that.”
In support of these objectives, the global internship program’s staff works with overseas companies to offer internships to Tech students and advises students on how to seek and obtain international internships on their own. Consequently students learn to exercise their professional development, networking and intercultural communication skills during the process of seeking, interviewing for and undertaking overseas internships.
The leading country destinations during the 2016-17 academic year were Germany, 44; Japan, 18; France,15; India, 11; China, 7; Switzerland, 7; England, 6 and Singapore, 5.
The list of companies and institutions where the students have found internships is impressive including companies as varied as automobile companies, banks and manufacturers to leading academic institutions and non-profits.
Students intern at large multinational companies such as BMW, Bosch, Siemens, Safran, Microsoft and Airbus as well as with start-ups and prestigious research universities such as the Technical University of Munich and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.
They also make meaningful contributions during their internships, Ms. Baird said, on projects ranging from self-driving car and drone technology, sustainable energy consulting, machine learning and data visualization in bioinformatics to developing AP science curriculum and assisting with European Parliament policy and research.
Ms. Baird’s responsibilities includes traveling abroad to search out internship opportunities for the students as well as to conduct site visit to current global internship locations. This past summer she visited the French cities of Paris, Bordeaux, Metz and Toulouse as well as London and Cambridge in the United Kingdom in search of new opportunities and to meet the current interns and their supervisors.
For a Global Atlanta article about the internship of Georgia Tech engineering student Maggie Lindsey, click here.