How to Decide Between an ISA Internship or Service-Learning Program

By Kaitlyn Webster & Megan Kane

Elevate your experience abroad by participating in an ISA internships program or ISA Service-Learning program. Not only do our career-building internships and service-learning programs look great on a resume, but they also offer hands-on experience in a unique international setting. But how does an internship differ from service-learning? And how do you choose the best type of program option for your goals? Here’s what you need to know.

Global Service-Learning Experiences

What is ISA Service-Learning?

Students and recent graduates have the opportunity to make a positive impact abroad while participating in community-based learning. ISA has developed partnerships with over 100 non-profit, governmental, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide where participants can donate their time and cultivate their strengths. This is more than just volunteering — it’s learning and learning to give back. Guided curriculum is tied to the program, and participants will complete weekly assignments and write reflection essays to document their journey and personal insights as they live, work, and study abroad.

ISA service-learning participant Connor Dooley working at a bilingual school in Cartago, Costa Rica.

Application Process

Once you apply, you will have an interview with our ISA Placement Coordinator and a short language assessment. The ISA Service-Learning team and our on-site staff will work together to decide which placement is the best fit for both you and our community partner. This decision is based on your language level, your background, personal goals, and professional experience as well as the expectations that the organization has for its service-learning participant.

Service learners can receive academic credit for their service-learning program and combine their service program with classes at the local university, making this a great option for students who want the best of both worlds.


ISA service-learning participants will develop intercultural and leadership skills in a real-world context and leave with the knowledge they have served and enriched communities all over the world. In recognition of their efforts, participants will also receive a certificate of completion for their service-learning program.

International Career-Building Internships

What is an ISA Internship?

An ISA internship is an international career-building internship which provides participants with the opportunity to develop personally and professionally. ISA internships are open to college students and recent graduates but are an especially good fit for career-oriented college juniors and seniors who want to develop professional skills and cross-cultural competencies. ISA internships are full-time, meaning interns will not take college classes while they intern abroad.

ISA intern teaching in Australia

Application Process

Any major can apply for an international internship based on skill set, goals, and the reality of what’s going on abroad. All ISA internships are unpaid, but you can receive academic credit. Internship candidates have a one-on-one advising session with their personal career advisor. After the advising session, the ISA Career Advisor will work with our on-site staff and partners to match you with an internship that is a good fit for both you and an organization abroad. Once we find the best match, we’ll present you with an internship offer. Applicants should also note that internships are not guaranteed.

ISA intern working in Chile


ISA interns will gain real-world experience and connections that will help them become competitive in the global job market. Before participants go abroad, their personal ISA Career Advisor coaches interns on important career skills, such as how to write a professional email, how to set up their LinkedIn page, and other expertise they may not have learned in a classroom setting. These soft skills will help interns throughout their careers even after their ISA internship ends.

For more information about ISA Internships and ISA Service-Learning Programs, check out our website.


Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

Leave a Reply