20 May Tips For Your Internship Abroad
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Interning abroad can be a fabulous way to gain experience in your field, meet new people, and explore new cultures. It allows you to learn about different country’s work culture, as well as explore a new career path/continent simultaneously. This can be an extremely beneficial experience that will aid you in your post-grad future, and can open you up to even more opportunities. If you have plans to intern abroad, then read on for tips for your internship abroad and tricks to maximize the effect of your special adventure.
Chances are, you’re in a completely new country, with little to no contacts nearby. Here is your chance to make some new connections. An easy way to do this, is to simply introduce yourself. Hopefully, wherever you’re headed either speaks your language or you’ve prepared beforehand. Don’t be shy! You’d be surprised how many people in other countries are excited to meet foreigners, and who will be happy to share their culture with you. Ask people to take you to their favorite cafe, restaurant, or park. You’d be surprised how quickly you’ll feel like a local when you get the inside scoop from a local themself.
But wait- what if you’re in a hybrid situation? Make the most of your in person interaction, but don’t ignore the impact of putting in effort online. Today, work culture across the globe looks very different than it did even two years ago. You could easily have a hybrid work structure, or some form of flexibility in your schedule. Make the most of whatever you have, and start sending email invites to virtual coffee. If you meet someone you are particularly interested in, try inviting them out to meet in person.
It is important to note that many European countries are less “friendly” in a workplace environment than the US. While the US believes in praising employees frequently, as well as a positive reinforcement model, European countries (like France, Germany etc…) don’t. Don’t be surprised if people are a bit more curt, and don’t let this stop you from making connections. It’s not you, just the culture.
Confused on somethingyou’re seeing (or not seeing)? Ask! Not every country handles the workplace and work in general the same, so it’s important to ask about the culture so you can participate in it yourself. If you’re somewhere with a language barrier and you’re struggling to understand what is expected of you, make sure you reach out to someone who can help, such as the sponsor of your internship abroad program, a senior in the company, or your university. You want to do as good of a job as you can, and that starts with fully understanding your role.
Another important aspect of your experience is asking career questions to those around you. Get to know how they managed to end up where they are. You might find it’s a completely different process from the American way you are familiar with. Regardless, this will enable you to learn more about your potential field as well as build connections that may aid you in the future.
Tell People What You Want:
This tip might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often simply telling those around you what you truly want to do someday can open doors. Don’t leave people guessing- chances are they haven’t even considered what your hopes and dreams are. So tell them! This tip is a more general internship tip, but even though you are abroad, don’t be surprised at what doors open up when you start communicating about what you want more openly with your superiors.
You are in a new place with new habits, work cultures, and communications. It’s important to expect the unexpected and roll with whatever cultural differences come your way. Try the food local to your area, see the sights. Fully immerse yourself in the place you are at, and relish the experience you are having. Going abroad, especially for one’s first time, can completely transform one’s view on their own culture and country. It might even change your ambitions! Take full advantage of what lies before you, and see what new things you discover.
…And Don’t Forget
It seems silly, but you’ll definitely be sorry if you don’t bring a few crucial items. A power adapter (for those pesky European outlets) is extremely important. Make sure to plan out how your phone/texting will work during this internship abroad as well. It would also be helpful to figure out how you plan to navigate yourself in the new country you will be visiting. I highly recommend the app, CityMapper, which allows you to still use its navigation with/without wifi. Armed with plans and general knowledge about the place you are going, will allow you to truly enjoy your experience and focus on the learning you’ll be doing at the internship.