At Lehigh, we don’t teach theory in a vacuum—we want students to learn to apply their skills to real-world challenges. This is the foundation of the Iacocca International Internship Program, in which students live and work overseas for six to 12 weeks in the summer.
How do you go about building global leadership? How do you demonstrate to people from different worlds that their commonalities are greater than their differences? By putting together cross-cultural situations, students work through their cultural differences. They say yes to globalization, yes to cooperation. The students’ enthusiasm is infectious and I would like to think it will infect the world.
One goal of the program is to make international experiences accessible to all students, and it prioritizes students who have high financial need or who have never been abroad before. Each internship is mostly funded—there is no cost for the program, including travel, accommodation and most meals. The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines, including arts and sciences, business, engineering and education.
Internship opportunities range from experiences combining academic and formal work components; international research; or teams of Lehigh students working on faculty-led projects, sometimes with peers from another country, to address a common problem in an organization. Most internships do not carry academic credit.
The comprehensive program provides career coaching and cultural training before students leave, opportunities for reflection and mentorship during the internship and formal re-entry programs upon return to campus, all with the goal of ensuring that students get the most from their internship experience and are ready to succeed in their careers after graduation.
Interns learn how to navigate a new environment, meet professional expectations and communicate with people from varied backgrounds. Former interns say the internship experience pushed them outside their comfort zone and gave them newfound confidence and awareness of culture.
While students gain practical, career-related experience and an enhanced global perspective, the organizations that host them get driven, intelligent interns to work on short-term projects, a fresh perspective on their organization and an opportunity to mentor young people.
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