Weird and wonderful internships overseas

By Caroline Apichella.

‘So I spent my summer internship lurking in the hall near the file cabinet. I read most of the things that were in the file cabinet, including some interesting memos that were marked ”top secret” and ”eyes only.” The file cabinet was right next to the men’s room, where one day the speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn, got locked in. Had I not been nearby, he might be there still.’

–          Nora Ephron “All the Presidents Girls”, New York Times (2003)

Right-on Nora, interns might not be working at desks or calling the shots like we all secretly hope we will, but how many 20-something women in 1961 were in the White house?

As an intern- hunter in search of work experience next Christmas— my last Christmas as an undergraduate— I’m on a mission to find an equally wow internship like Ephron’s, but what am I looking for? And what is on offer to people like me?

I’ve been doing my research, and there are 3 internships which thoroughly excite the potential traveller, eccentric and philanthropist in me.

Roman Holiday

Law-firms and media offices like the BBC receive high levels of applicants, but let’s look at some bigger offices offering work-experience. Take the Vatican for instance. Any serious intern- hunters will already know about this one.

It surely is an exceptional opportunity for lovers of Roman architecture, religion and beauty. I for one adore the Baroque wonder that is the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Imagine working in the Vatican archives or the Vatican publishing house?

However off putting writers and film makers have presented the Vatican, the place is a modern centre for young academics and scholars. The Vatican Studies Center established a series of internship opportunities, bringing a youthful and forward-looking aspect to the vast establishment.

For example, interns launched the Vatican’s YouTube channel and created a virtual tour of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which can be viewed online today.

But if Rome isn’t for you there are other options.

Night at The Museum

This month in HuffPost College, the paper highlighted unusual and ‘weird’ internships which are offered, with genuine prerequisites including ‘being weird’ and ‘having a taste for fun’.

Last year General Manager Michael Hirsch of Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum opened a new internship programme. He explained that the placement was open to those who enjoy the extraordinary and the strange: ‘If the idea of earning college credit in the world’s best tourism market while being surrounded by shrunken heads, a lock of Elvis’s hair, and 500 other amazing artefacts, look no further.

The placement is in the Center of New York in Times Square, and despite the gaga rudiments they require, this sounds like an exciting and challenging venture.

Of course, these placements are impressive, but I was truly inspired by another internship which I discovered recently. This one is for the adventurer.

Love in Nepal

Rome and New York are two internship hubs, but in the mountains of Nepal there is perhaps the most extraordinary internship for a dedicated and strong- willed intern.

In the Himalayan setting of Nepal, The Asend: Mountainchild presents a 30 day placement emphasizing sustainable development work. It aims to empower a new generation of local Tibetans with the skills necessary to bring lasting transformation to their people and villages.

In short, “it exists for the sole purpose of raising awareness, resources and financial aid for humanitarian work carried out amongst children living in the Himalayas.”

It is a physically demanding, high- altitude trek in extremely basic conditions.

So if like Nora Ephron, you seek an internship with a fizz, these are just three options among a world of opportunities. Soon I will be interviewing three interns from London, New York and Hong Kong, asking them about their experiences.  Meantime, take a look at for even more ideas for out-of-the ordinary graduate internships.

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