Professionals a jumpstart to a great career
International internships give students and young professionals a jumpstart to a great career while also learning more about another culture. The more you put into your internship, the more it will pay off when you are ready to make the next move in your career. To make the most of your internship experience abroad, be prepared and give it your all. Not only will you have an amazing time, but you’ll also have something to show for it in your professional life.
Research Ahead of Time
While interning in a foreign country is exciting and fun, this isn’t the time to be spontaneous. Since you’re going there for career-related reasons, take time to study up on the culture as well as the company you’ll be working for. This helps you make a positive first impression on management and colleagues, rather than starting out on the wrong foot by making a faux pas. Once you’ve gathered company and cultural information, check out the local area where you’ll be living. Since you won’t be at the office all the time, look into places to eat, tourist sites to visit, and any other local places of interest you’d love to see or experience.
Study and Practice the Language
If you’re going to be working with people who speak a different language, set aside plenty of time to learn it. You’ll continue to pick up the language as you spend more time there, but it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with some basic words, phrases, and questions. You’ll be better prepared to handle your tasks as an intern and communicate with management and colleagues when you’re not dealing with as much of a language barrier.
Part of the fun of completing an international internship is getting to experience a whole new culture. You’ll have a chance to learn about local cuisine, arts, entertainment, and other aspects of this culture in addition to seeing how the company conducts business. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you don’t understand or things you’d like to learn more about. Whether it’s local traditions or the company itself, find out as much as you can from those around you during your internship. You’ll be more informed and feel more a part of the local life.
One of the reasons people choose to do international internships is to find out how other cultures approach the workplace environment. You might be used to how things are done back home, but be prepared to experience at least a few substantial differences in your new surroundings. You might feel a bit of culture shock when you start your internship, depending on where you’re going, but keep your mind open and remind yourself that you’re working with people who might have a different cultural outlook on the workplace. Be open to these new experiences, and use them to gain knowledge about the company’s culture. This will help you adapt better and learn more.
Live with Native Roommates
When choosing your living arrangement for your internship, consider living with locals. This gives you a wonderful opportunity to practice your language skills on a daily basis and get some local insight that can be helpful when you’re at work. Local roommates can also take you around town and give you an insider’s view of the area you’re in, which can help you fit into the workplace better and enjoy your experience more.
Network and Make Connections
One of the biggest ways you can make the most of your internship is by networking and building connections that can boost your career. Make a point of attending any after-hours functions or special events that the company offers, so you can mingle with others who share your professional interests. This is also where studying the language ahead of time helps a lot, since you can confidently approach and strike up conversations with managers, colleagues, or other professionals you meet. Make sure you ask for contact information and store it away for future use.
Travel on Your Days Off
Even though your main focus is on your internship, you’ll still have time off to enjoy yourself. Use this free time to travel to nearby cities and towns, so you can learn even more about the local culture. Visit tourist attractions, or travel off the beaten path to find hidden gems and chat with the locals. Traveling on your days off can help you build a greater appreciation for the culture you’re spending time in.
Traveling internationally for an internship can make you feel anxious, but it’s important to look on the bright side when things aren’t going as perfectly as they could. If you’re struggling with fitting into the local culture during your internship, look at it as a learning experience. Also, keep in mind that as an intern and as someone from a different culture, those around you will expect you to need time to adjust. Make this a learning opportunity instead of seeing it a setback or roadblock.
While being an intern is a serious learning experience, don’t forget to have fun. Make new friends at the company or by venturing out to local restaurants, shops, and other places. Set aside time to relax and take in your new surroundings so you’ll have a memorable internship and international experience.
Make The Most of Your International Internship
When you put these tips into practice, you’re bound to have a productive internship that puts you on the path toward a successful career. Make the most of this amazing opportunity, and you'll enjoy the benefits of getting a head start on building your career with real-world, international experience.