Skip to Content

French-Speaking

The French Internship Program gives University of Michigan students the opportunity to put their French language skills into practice in a work environment.  Placed in positions in France, Belgium, Switzerland, French-speaking Canada and French-speaking Africa, students are expected to perform work-related tasks as required by their employers. Internships usually last 6-12 weeks.

Eligibility

All applicants to the Francophone program must: 

Be returning University of Michigan students Fall 2014

Have satisfactory oral French skills (FR 235+)

Register for the French Internship Course (FR381) the semester after he or she returns. This course does not meet, however you will receive 3 UM credits (Credit/No Credit)

How good is your spoken French?    

Good conversational French is necessary to participate in this program.  Applicants should have completed at least one class beyond FR235

Imagine a professional situation where your employer does not speak English. Do you know enough to be able to follow requests, complete work related tasks, and carry on an everyday conversation?

Applicants will meet with placement officers and complete a brief oral French evaluation 

Application Timeline

Application Deadline: December 15th

Placement Notice: March 1

The online MCompass Application will be available in November.

Most placements will be confirmed by March 1, and most internships take place during May, June and/or July and will last 6-12 weeks

Application Process

Application Deadline: December 15th, 2014

The online MCompass Application will be available November 2014.

Academic Requirements and Expectations

Aside from completing the internship itself, you will be asked to fulfill 3 academic requirements:

Before you leave: You will register for French 381 for the following semester. French 381 does not meet. You will need permission to register: please forward your student ID# toRachael Criso once you have an offer of employment in writing.  

While abroad: Contribute twice a week to an online blog. In the blog, you will share your experiences, give and take advice, plan trips to visit other interns, share images etc.  You will also keep a vocabulary book, noting down each new word you come across.

Once you return: On the first day of the fall semester, submit two copies of a 20-page, double-spaced paper in French about your experiences while abroad to your instructor.  In the paper you should discuss your expectations before you left for the internship, your first impressions, your job, your travels, your friends, and even funny experiences or challenges.  Special focus should be given to a comparison of your culture with that of your adopted country.

You will give a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation about your internship experience to a French class or during the Global Internship Showcase (date TBA). At the Global Internships Showcase, you will meet prospective interns and explain your experiences while encouraging them to intern abroad.

Internship Placement through LSA

Placement In Internship 

Placement through the International Internships Program is NOT guaranteed. Once you have applied, your information will be forwarded to the companies in which you have expressed an interest. They will select a few candidates to interview by telephone or Skype and make a hiring decision. 

The best way to make sure you have an internship this summer is to secure one yourself. If you find and complete an internship not traditionally associate with this program, you may still participate in the program as outlined here and still receive credit. 

How to Find Your Own Internship

Even though you have applied for an internship through the International Internships Program, searching for your own position at the same time will give you more chance of being certain to be able to work abroad this summer. 

Many online internship companies  promise all kinds of jobs and ask for a large non-refundable fee upfront. Some of these are legitimate, however, most students so far, have been able to locate an internship without paying a third-party company. 

Here are some good leads to follow: 
  • The French consulates in Chicago and Washington DC offer internship positions each year.  Check out the details at: frenchculture.org 
  • The UM International Center has several good leads for international internship hunting. To receive email updates from the International Center contact Bill Nolting (bnolting@umich.edu). 
  • In association with the International Center, the director of ICE Menlo (an international internship placement company) interviews UM undergrads in December and January.  He charges a small fee to place students, but we have followed many who taken his positions and been very happy. Contact bnolting@umich.edu to find out when ICE Menlo will visit our campus.  Check out ICE Menlo on the web at:icemenlo.com
  • You may consider working for a volunteer association or a non-profit company (NGO, en français).  If you are part of their work force and functioning in French every day, you are still eligible for credit.  
Some places to look for volunteer or non-profit work: 
  • In many French-speaking countries: http://www.wwoof.fr/ (organic farming) 
  • The best scenario here is to pick something you are interested in and begin searching on the web.

Living Arrangements

Your living arrangments will depend on which internship you accept and the area you will live in. 

Some positions come with housing, but many do not and you will need to find and pay for your own place to live. 

A great site to find apartments in France is: appartage.com

Funding

It is advisable to begin seeking as soon as you apply for your internship.  See here for links to possible funding sources.

NB: The LSA Internship Scholarship Fund can also be awarded for International Internships.

Required Health Insurance

The University of Michigan requires all students traveling abroad on UM programs to purchase travel insurance through the University. 

You will need to email the confirmation email you receive once you have registered to your instructor to rcriso@umich.edu

Failure to purchase this insurance will void your participation in the program. The good news is that it only costs approximately $1 a day. You may register at:http://www.uhs.umich.edu/tai

Do I Need a Visa?

Visa requirements are your responsibility.  As the relationships between countries change, the laws governing travel between countries change also.  It is 100% your responsibility to research the visa requirements for your stay abroad.  

Some questions you will want to consider: 

What passport do I hold and what relationship does my country have with the country I wish to visit?

Do I need a work visa?  

Perhaps if you are volunteering, or not being paid, you may not require a work visa. Should I enter the destination country as a student or a tourist or a "worker"? 

The answers to these questions and the guidelines of how to obtain a visa, should you need one, can be found at: consulfrance-chicago.org

Warning: the process can be slow and frustrating, so BEGIN EARLY - it always takes longer than you think it will.

Why Go?

“In my internship, after having come in with no wine, sales, or marketing knowledge, I was able to completely take over a wine store, and at the same time, learn about wine in general (how it’s made, how to taste properly, how to describe it in English, French, and even a little Spanish at times). I developed sales skills and most certainly ameliorated my spoken French. I also managed a portion of our web media and communicated directly with clients, contributing to the approachable, fun image of the Arrogant Frog label.

I was taken along to VINEXPO 2011 in Bordeaux where I truly saw the wine industry in motion and made international contacts. I met with many of the company’s clients, and was allowed to confidently represent an enterprise that sells 100 million bottles of wine worldwide.”

-Stephanie, 2011

Compensation

The tradition of internships in France stems from the idea that the company is being kind enough to hire you to teach you their trade. Even though you may work 35hrs a week--they are still doing you a favor. You will very likely not be paid for your internship. Accept this for the wonderful learning opportunity that it is.  Some internships are paid, but in the past these positions have tended to be in the field of Engineering.

The good news: Some companies provide some benefits like free lunch or  housing free of charge.