Four years ago (I can’t believe that was four years ago already!!) I went on my first adventure abroad ever. I’ve just graduated from school and I was ready to explore the world. Well, at least, a tiny bit of it. I didn’t want to spend a whole year traveling because I wanted to start my Bachelor degree not much later. This is why I decided to do a two months internship in London, including a two weeks language course at the start of my stay. Thinking about doing an internship abroad yourself? Today’s post is all about what an internship abroad is really like – the truth and nothing but the truth!
I thought an internship abroad was a good combination of being able to travel a bit, to go abroad on my own for the first time and, at the same time, get some work experience before going to university. If you’re toying with the idea of doing an internship abroad yourself, this article will be for you! In today’s post, I want to tell you about my experience on what an internship abroad is really like, so it’s going to be a bit more personal (ahhh). After reading this, you’ll know how I organised the internship, what challenges I met and how I feel about this time now, four years later. I hope this will help you with your own decision. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a quick email!
THE LANGUAGE COURSE
My language course was well organised. I liked the teaching style, it was a small class and I got to know two lovely girls through it and we spend a lot of time exploring London together. I’m glad that I did this language course prior to my work placement. My English was horrendous four years ago, so it was a good start to my stay. I was glad that I had those two weeks to settle in a bit and had an English class to improve at least a bit before I started working. And luckily, my English did improve over the two months period.
HOW TO ORGANISE AN INTERNSHIP ABROAD
My internship was with a news agency where I worked for six weeks within a small team. How did I get the placement? I decided to organise the internship through an agency as I had no idea where to look for jobs. Overall, I guess it was a good decision, even though I had to pay a fee (I think it was around 500 Euro). They organised not only the internship but also my accommodation for the two months. The only thing I had to do was writing my application and get through a telephone interview (which was HORRIBLE but I somehow got a job anyway – don’t ask me how).
For everyone whose language skills aren’t that good and who haven’t had any work experience before, I would recommend you organising the internship through an agency. It gives you more security and you’re not completely on your own. Especially if you’re still young and just graduated from school. University students may already have some work experience, so they’ll find it a bit easier. If you’re planning to do an abroad internship right after school you should really consider doing it through an agency. It helped me. However, if you feel more confident or have any connections in the country, go for it! It’s definitely cheaper if you organise your stay on your own.
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Now imagine my 18-year old self, working for the first time and then in London, without speaking proper English. Naive as I was (I admit it), I thought I would do something exciting – but OF COURSE, my English wasn’t sufficient enough. I wasn’t really happy. After two weeks typing in data into an Excel sheet I was so frustrated. I didn’t really know how to handle the situation. I didn’t feel that I was learning anything and I was kind of helpless. There were one or two tears because of this. It can be quite overhelming when you’re away from home for the first time and don’t know how to communicate proberly.
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Luckily, I had the agency at hand. I wrote them an email explaining that I wasn’t really happy with what I’m doing and that I wouldn’t improve my English if I’d only type in data (where you obviously don’t have to use a lot of English). So my contact person spoke with my boss from work and I was allowed to write short texts for the newsletter from that time onwards. I was definitely more happy with this as I could improve my writing skills much more. My tip nevertheless: Lower your expectations. You’re fresh out of school, you’ll not be able to work on super important projects. An internship abroad will still be a great experience, even if you’re only working on minor projects.
CONCLUSION: IT MADE ME CONFIDENT
So, how was my overall experience? It was not always easy and I did face some challenges, but I think it definitely made me more confident. It was good that I went away right after school and had to live on my own in another country (even if it was only two months). It made me more mature and I learned a lot. I got to know so many amazing people and am still friends with some of them today.
It did cost me a lot of money (as rent isn’t what I would call “cheap” in London, you know), but it was well invested. If you consider working abroad after you graduate from school or university, an internship abroad is the right way to explore how living abroad is without completely leaving everything behind. Or you could discover new options through the work placement abroad – maybe you find out that you’d find it interesting to work abroad. Even if you think it’s not the thing for you, it will be a great and unforgettable experience!
To sum this up: I had some really good experiences, but I also faced challenges I didn’t think of. I imagined it would be easier, but the problems I had to fight made me a stronger person. If you think about doing an internship abroad yourself, I recommend you this article, too. It’s about the pros & cons of doing an internship abroad.
Now that you know everything about what an internship abroad is really like, it is your turn. Are you thinking of doing an internship abroad? Or do you already have some international work experience? I’m curious, so please leave a comment below and tell me your story.