Through OPIT's eight-week, English-language internships, students gain the substantive overseas professional experience and intercultural communication skills demanded by today’s global market. Participants can choose a placement in a variety of fields, including business, democracy building, human rights, education, science, technology, gender issues, journalism, public health, environmental protection, and social services in 20 countries in Southeast Europe, Eurasia, and the Baltics.
A full-time in-country American Councils staff person oversees the professional and intercultural program, assists participants in administrative and personal matters, and works closely with the host organization to ensure that participants are engaged in meaningful projects. The OPIT program draws on an extensive network of community partners, expert regional staff, and overseas resources developed by American Councils over the years.
Knowledge of a foreign-language is not required; however, the program does provide foreign language internships to interested and qualified students, and all students have the opportunity to combine their internships with intensive language study.
The OPIT Program offers students the opportunity to gain professional experience in an international setting. It provides a full-time, unpaid eight-week internship in Eurasia, Southeast Europe, or the Baltics. The program integrates experiential learning with cross-cultural training, which allows highly-motivated students to improve their professional and personal skills. The program is designed to advance participants’ critical thinking, intercultural communication skills, cultural awareness and global understanding through reflection, journal writing and feedback sessions.
Participants can also elect to supplement their professional experience with language training by adding up to 10 academic hours per week in the host country language. Language instruction will be at additional cost.
U.S. Academic Credit
Participants earn four undergraduate or five graduate U.S. academic credit hours in Intercultural Communication. Additionally, transcripts will reflect a "Global Internship Experience" as a non-credit bearing course. Academic credit is awarded through Bryn Mawr College.
Internships are available in the following professional fields in locations outside of Russia:
- Business and Innovation
- Democracy Building and Human Rights
- Ecology and Environmental Issues
- Education Management
- Gender and Women’s Rights
- Journalism and Mass Media
- Marketing and Communications
- Public Health
- Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM)
- Social Services
For our site based in Moscow, Russia, internships are available in:
- Business and Innovation
- Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM)
Recent participants have worked at the Kyiv Post newspaper, the Georgian Ministry of Euro-Atlantic Integration Office, the Eurasia Foundation, NLB Bank, the U.S.-Russia Chamber of Commerce, and many other prominent businesses and organizations.
A list of possible internship placements can be found here sorted by country: Armenia | Azerbaijan | Bosnia & Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Estonia | Georgia | Kazakhstan | Kosovo | Kyrgyzstan | Latvia | Lithuania | Macedonia | Moldova | Mongolia (placements coming soon) | Montenegro | Poland (placements coming soon) | Russia | Serbia | Turkey (placements coming soon) | Ukraine
Participants elect to intern in one of 20 countries:
- Yerevan, Armenia
- Baku, Azerbaijan
- Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Sofia, Bulgaria
- Tartu, Estonia
- Tbilisi, Georgia
- Almaty, Kazakhstan
- Pristina, Kosovo
- Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
- Riga, Latvia
- Vilnius, Lithuania
- Skopje, Macedonia
- Chisinau, Moldova
- Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
- Podgorica, Montenegro
- Moscow, Russia (business, innovation, and STEM fields only)
- Warsaw, Poland
- Belgrade, Serbia
- Izmir, Turkey
- Kyiv, Ukraine
Prior to departure, participants receive a handbook specific to their country and internship location that provides detailed information about their site, including information about life, culture, transportation, health and safety, what to pack, and much more.
Housing & Meals
While dormitory housing is available in some locations, most program participants live with local host families for the duration of the program. Living with a host family provides valuable cultural experience to complement the internship program. Host families expose participants to authentic, everyday life in the host country while also providing a supportive environment for students. While staying with a host family, participants are provided with a private room, two meals per day, and keys to the apartment or house. All host families are screened, selected, and monitored by American Councils staff.
All program participants are required to attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. at the start of the program. Orientation sessions address health & safety, overseas business culture, host-family life, culture shock, and strategies to maximize a student's experience abroad. Students also have a chance to meet fellow participants during the orientation. Lodging and meals are provided. Upon arrival in the host country, participants attend an informative in-country orientation.
While overseas, participants have access to in-country program staff who provide around-the-clock emergency support. The local American Councils office, employing both expatriates and host-country nationals, arrange the internship placement, housing, in-country orientation, and medical care. During the program, the AC Study Abroad Team in Washington, D.C. stays in close contact via email and telephone with in-country program staff and provides updates as needed to study abroad offices, university partners, and family members.
Participants are enrolled in comprehensive overseas health, accident, and evacuation insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) for the duration of the program. CISI provides medical coverage of up to $250,000 per accident or illness. Enrollment in the CISI plan also provides full coverage for emergency medical evacuation.
All participants are provided with a single-entry visa (if applicable)to the host country for the duration of the summer program. It is the student's responsibility to obtain any other visas required by their individual itineraries. Visa application information and forms are provided upon acceptance to the program.
With support from a wide range of funders, American Councils has established several scholarships to support U.S. students engage in overseas study. All applicants to American Councils summer, semester, or academic-year overseas programs are eligible for partial scholarship awards from the American Councils Outbound Scholarship Fund, which include:
- AC Study Abroad Alumni Scholarship
- AC Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship
- AC Study Abroad Language & Area Studies Expert Scholarship
- AC Study Abroad Need-Based Scholarship
Awards are made on the basis of financial need, program compatibility, and academic merit, and typically range from $500 to $2500.
U.S. Intern Abroad Armenia Scholarship: With funding from the U.S. Department of State through the U.S. Study Abroad Grant, this scholarship offers U.S. undergraduate and graduate students exposure to the global workplace through eight-week internships on the OPIT Program in Armenia. Students gain valuable insight and experience into the tourism/ecotourism sector and economic development in Armenia while developing professional and intercultural skills demanded by today's market. U.S. Intern Abroad Armenia Scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need, program compatibility, and academic merit; awards range from $1,000 to $2,000. Learn more →
Business, Technology, and Innovation Scholarship: Available to participants on the Overseas Professional & Intercultural Training (OPIT) Internship Program and the Business Russian Language & Internship Program, this scholarship supports U.S. students interning in business or STEM fields in Moscow, Russia. BTI awards are made on the basis of financial need, program compatibility, and academic merit; awards range from $3,000 to $5,000. Learn More →
Visit our Financial Aid page for more information on scholarship and funding opportunities through American Councils and outside sources.