Should I use an agency to arrange my internship?

Once you’ve decided that you want to complete an internship, the next step is how you will organise the placement.

You have two options:
1) Organise it on your own directly with a host company
2) Apply to an agency who will arrange it on your behalf

Benefits of applying directly to a host company:

* Lower cost: When you arrange the internship directly, you save agency fees.
* Choose the companies: you can decide which companies you would like and send them your CV. This way you have the opportunity to complete your placement in a company that you have chosen and dreamt about.

Benefits of applying through an agency:

* Ongoing support and assistance: if you decide to apply through an agency, you will have a contact person by your side the whole time, before and during your internship. Prior to your start date, the agency will help you write your CV, your letter and prepare for upcoming interviews.
The mission of every agency should be to arrange beneficial internship placements that meet the specific expectations of each and every student. If the company proposed doesn’t meet your expectations, your agency will be able to arrange additional interviews.

* During your internship the agency can assist you in case there are any problems with the internship or in general. Keep in mind that not all internships are perfect immediately. Maybe you aren’t satisfied with the tasks you’re given, maybe the host company offers a lower level of training than your academic studies or you simply don’t get along. Your Agency will already have a strong relationship with the host company and may be able to resolve any issues or your agency will help you with finding another placement that is a better fit. They can find another company for you and make sure that things don’t escalate when you’re having trouble. If you organise the internship on your own, you don’t have this security. You could fail and not find a replacement. That’s a frustrating experience and could cause unnecessary time delays. All of this can be prevented by choosing an agency from the beginning .

* Guaranteed Placement: an agency can assure you that you will get placed. Even if you have little or no experience in your field, there will be a suitable company and placement for you. This will make the whole application process so much easier. Agencies often have a well established and developed network of companies. This means that these companies will be more likely to consider you as their intern than they would without the influence of the agency. When the agency has a good reputation, host companies will rely and trust the experience of the agency, so a host company will be more open to considering your CV when it comes from an agency rather than from you directly.

* Extra benefits: many agencies provide interns with extra services to add value to the experience. These can include social meetings and newsletters. With regular intern meetings you will soon meet people that are in the same situation as you. You’ll find new friends and people to hang around or travel with. It’s a relief to know that you will be able to meet new friends easily. This can make your stay more fun for you.
You can establish a whole network of friends and contacts all over the world and continue to share experiences with them.
Other services that are often provided by agencies for internships abroad are discounted weekend trips and excursions. Local guides can show you the best places in a country with a lot of insight. Your agency can arrange many special deals for you and you will benefit from price reductions. This is another great way to meet many new people and see some of the greatest sights and places of the country.

* Additional help: an agency will assist you with much more than just the placement. Prior to your departure from your home, they will be able to help you with finding the right Visa and insurance. It can get confusing to keep track of everything that needs to be organised prior to your departure. The agency knows everything that needs to be done from years of experience and will prepare all the documents for you and guide you through the process.

Many agencies provide assistance when it comes to finding the right accommodation. They have contacts in the country and know the best and cheapest place to stay. It can be hard to arrange accommodation from overseas, so relax and just leave it to your agency! This makes things so much more convenient for you. If you aren’t happy with the accommodation they have provided, the agency can quickly find an alternative.

This will save you from being tricked into paying for accommodation that doesn’t exist also.
Some agencies even provide assistance when you book your flights, offering you special deals and cheaper prices!
They can also arrange airport pickup, so you won’t be lost on your first day and can be sure you will get to your accommodation safely without worrying.
If you decide to complete a language course before you start the internship, your agency will be able to find the right course for you and maybe even arrange a discount.
They can also help with your travel plans. They might be able to offer you discounts or recommend the best places to visit from their own experiences. If anything should go wrong during your travels, you can be sure that they will assist you whatever the problem might be. Change of travel plans, stolen ID, horrible hostel – an agency will be able to help you. Feel free to use all their services , because it is their job to make your internship experience as convenient, safe and memorable as possible!

* Direct contact: you will benefit from a personal contact in your country of choice. These people will be able to help you with any problems, whether you don’t like your internship or accommodation or have general questions: there is someone taking care of you! This is a relieving feeling, especially when you’re living abroad alone for the first time of your life. A 24 hour emergency number is often provided by an agency.

A few extra points to consider:

1) Where do you want to complete the internship?

If you would like to intern in your home country, it might be simple to find a good placement on your own. You may already have contacts in your field of choice or know people who can assist you with finding a suitable host company. Living in the city where you will complete your internship also enables you to physically visit host companies to introduce yourself, explain your expectations and hand them your CV.

If you decide to complete an internship abroad, it can be extremely difficult to arrange this on your own. Not only will you most likely not have any contacts in the new country, but you may be applying for an internship in a completely different culture and in a foreign language.
Also, if you are lucky enough to secure an internship on your own from overseas, then there is no way to guarantee that the placement is legitimate and matched to your expectations.
Example: While you think you are travelling to a new country for a marketing internship involving beneficial marketing tasks & training, the host company may be under the impression that you will be satisfied with making coffees and photocopying.

Choosing to apply with an agency could be beneficial for you in many ways.
First of all, you are enlisting a specialist in the field to arrange a unique internship placement which is matched to your skills, experience and expectations. They will have a large database of host companies, all of which they would have built a strong relationship. The placement agency will be aware of the level of training provided in each host company and the type of student that is best matched to the office environment and the training they can offer.
A placement agency will provide ongoing support throughout the application and organisation process. They will assist with arranging and booking the correct Visas, insurance, accommodation near your internship and flights.

They will also make sure that you’ll have a contact person in the country abroad. This is a huge relief for you, as you’re assured that you won’t be alone in case anything should happen or if you need any kind of help.

2) What is your budget?

If you decide to apply through an agency, you have to expect higher expenses than when you’re doing it on your own. This results from the many additional services you get from the agency. They help you with the application, find a good placement for you, help with insurance, visa , flights , accommodation (if necessary) and are there for you and answer your questions.

3) Do you need the internship for uni?

Many Unis require internships during a student’s studies. They often set specific guidelines that need to be fulfilled during the internship. An agency can help you find the right internship that meets the University’s expectations as well as yours. This way you don’t have to fear that your internship might not be accredited.
If you organise the internship on your own, you will have to discuss the internship requirements with your possible employers. They might not be willing to accept these “extra needs” and reject your application.

4) Are you confident and determined enough to organise the internship on your own?

Some people aren’t very well organised or are simply a little shy and don’t like to present their CV to many companies. With an agency, you won’t have to contact every company on your own. They’ll read your CV and if a company should reject your application you won’t even know. You won’t experience the devastating feeling of rejection that you’ll have to expect once you apply to a variety of companies. The agency will take care of the application process and make sure that you’ll get a beneficial internship placement in the end.
This is quite convenient, whereas finding a placement on your own can be hard work and frustrating.