Finding funding for an international internship or field placement is probably the most daunting task of the whole experience. Most international placements cost a few thousand dollars, the largest part of which tends to be airfare. Be sure to talk with your academic advisor and your department to see what internal funding sources are available before expanding your searches.
There are a few steps that you’ll want to take before applying to the various campus offices for funding.
- Make a list of all things you need to pay for
- Determine how much each thing costs
- Transfer this information into a budget
- Find funding applications, due dates
- Get letters of recommendation for those applications for which they are required
- Get letters of invitation from host agencies for those applications for which they are required
Here’s a list of some things to consider for your budget (most funders won’t allow you to use their funds to pay for U.S.-based expenses while you’re abroad, like car payments, rent, etc.). Here’s a tentative budget I’ll be using for my work this summer in China and Bangladesh.
- Passport/Visa costs – be sure to check WELL in advance if a visa is necessary, to ensure you have enough time to get one
- Immunization costs – the University Health Service at U-M can help you determine this
- Housing in your host country – will it be provided? Apartment? University housing? Living with a friend/family member? Host family?
- Transportation in your host country – will you travel inside the country? What’s your daily commute?
- Airfare to/from your destination – check a variety of locations to get a good average, and be prepared for it to change as the departure date gets closer.
- Food in your host country – will you be eating out all the time? Cooking at home? Can you pay a flat rate, like if you’re with a host family or in university housing?
- Internet/Phone in your host country – many students find it comforting to buy a local cell phone; check prices and how much minutes/plans cost. Will you be paying separately for internet at your host agency/home?
- Allowable internship/project costs – some funders allow you to include this, some don’t. Will you need to make copies? Buy disposable cameras? Pay for an interpreter? Pay for your internet use?
There are many places on campus that provide funding, and if you decide to apply to many, it might be helpful to create a spreadsheet to keep all the requirements straight! Here’s what I’m using for my summer work in China and Bangladesh as an example (beware – this spreadsheet is a bit ugly with the long links…).
Please leave comments about your experiences with finding funding or with suggestions of additional places to look. We’re all in this together – although it may seem like we’re competing, consider the fact that we’re all going to be colleagues shortly and we’ll all benefit from working with the best-trained colleagues we can possibly have!
Leave any tips you have for others in the comments below!!