Highlights of the 12th Annual CIEE Global Internship Conference

The 12th Annual CIEE Global Internship Conference (GIC) was held last week in London, bringing together senior leaders from industry, higher education, government, and think tanks to explore best practices and innovative approaches in global internships. 

The theme of this year’s conference was “Collaborating to Shape Future Talent” and conversations focused on the importance of partnerships in preparing students for the future workforce. 

The Opening Plenary featured Lord David Anderson of Ipswich; Mariana Peters Change Consultant for Bosch, Deutsche Bahn, and Individuals; Rebecca Pasini, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and Jane Swift, President, Education at Work. Ahmad Ezzeddine, Vice President for Academic Student Affairs and Global Engagement, Wayne State University and Vice President for Scholarship & Institutional Strategy, NAFSA, moderated the panel discussion of the future of work, global talent development, and the necessity of collaborative efforts.

The panel discussed the benefits of global internships in preparing participants for personal and career success. Lord Anderson described how an international internship can expand one's way of thinking. "When you go abroad to see how other people do things, you come back with the ability to do things differently yourself," he said.

The panel also discussed how motivation from interns is crucial if the internship experience is to benefit both the host company and the intern. Mariana Peters spoke about the misalignment between the expectations of employers and the abilities and desires of the interns. "There needs to be a huge change in what companies are willing to offer," she said. "Without a change, they will lose out on a lot of talent.”

Improvement in the alignment between the skills nurtured by a global internship and the job skills needed by today’s employers was a recurrent theme in discussions during the conference. In the plenary on day three of the conference, Leah Mason from IIE shared preliminary results from the industry-wide study conducted by IIE and CIEE, in collaboration with peer organizations involved with facilitating global internship experiences, that examines the employability and professional outcomes of individuals who participated in a global internship.

While the study found that 80% of alumni surveyed indicated that participation in global internship activities supported their development of skills relevant to their professional journey, the study found room for improvement in aligning skills acquisition through global internship with skills relevant to professional pathways for graduates, including skills related to workforce development and curiosity in the workplace. "Internship programs can better align their approach and strengthen activities that focus specifically on career pathways and outcomes," Leah said. 

But over and over again, in panel discussions, GIC talks, and informal conversations, host companies and intern alumni all shared the powerful, positive impact of a global internship experience.

My work-integrated study abroad experiences shaped who I am as a professional,” said Magda Vigoureux, a CIEE alum who is now Assistant Director, Procurement Contracts Travel Missions & Events at Interpol, said in a panel on day two. “Throughout my career, I’ve continued to build on the skills I acquired during these experiences.”  

Internships are not just about the work the interns can do, but the long-lasting relationships developed between host company and intern,”  said Jesús Abellan of Fundació per l’Esport i L’Educació de Barcelona (FEEB) when accepting an award at the inaugural CIEE Global Internship Industry Partner Awards ceremony that took place during the conference to celebrate the dedication and impact of CIEE’s esteemed internship host partners.

One powerful takeaway from the CIEE Global Internship Conference was the importance of breaking down barriers to transformative international internship experiences. In nurturing the next generation of global professionals, we need to implement strategies that increase access to career-accelerating opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds.

In a plenary panel on day two, Dr. Anthony E. Munroe, president of Borough of Manhattan Community College, spoke about the importance of nurturing inclusion in global internship programs. "You must invite [students] in," he said. "Students often don’t see themselves as qualified for internships... or belonging to the global workforce or global economy. The message we share with BMCC students is 'You belong. You may not have ever left Brooklyn or the Bronx, you may not even have a passport, but you belong.'"

In perhaps the most inspiring element of the conference, the CIEE UNHCR Student Challenge, three student teams presented innovative ideas to improve access to higher education and livelihood for refugees. 

Nimco Ibrahim, from the winning Team Eagles, of Kepler College and African Leadership University both in Kigali, Rwanda, shared what was meaningful to her about participating in the competition. “It has not only enhanced my skills but also deepened my commitment to advocating for educational equity,” she said. 

More highlights from the 12th Annual CIEE Global Internship Conference are on our website: 

Please mark your calendars to join us for the 13th Annual CIEE Global Internship Conference that will be held in Singapore June 25-27, 2025

I look forward to reconvening in 2025 to see what strides we all make over the next year in our efforts to close the skills gap and better prepare all students from all backgrounds for the world of work.

Hope to see you there!