In recent years, the demand for more culturally competent candidates has risen as employers seek workers highly adaptable to the global marketplace. Study abroad internship programs offer a rich training ground for college students to gain valuable international and intercultural career experience. This study examined the effects of experiential program design on the cultural intelligence of participants in an international internship program. College students from a large Midwestern university were enrolled in an international internship program in Amsterdam, Netherlands; Lima, Peru; or Seoul, South Korea. The program design incorporated principles of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) to increase student reflection on their experience and engage them in the ELT cycle. Participants were scored on the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS) before and after the internship, and pre-test and post-test scores were compared and analyzed. Findings indicated significant growth in participants’ cultural intelligence. The intentional incorporation of experiential learning principles in the design and implementation of internship abroad programs has clear potential to increase participant’ intercultural competence and develop their skills for the 21st century workplace.


cultural competence, experiential learning, program design, study abroad, cultural intelligence scale



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