Since I finished my studies, I am already getting nostalgic and am reflecting on my journey in the past five years. What I enjoyed most, of course, were my trips abroad. I could never afford myself an entire semester abroad, also, because my university didn’t have too many cooperations with universities in Arab countries. So I had to think of a different method to travel: Internships. I have done a couple of internships abroad and soon I will do another one in a total different corner of the world (I will let you know when the time is right). There are many reasons why you should do an internship abroad and NOT in your home country. In spite of the overall-benefit that you are stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself, here are some concrete benefits of an internship abroad:
1) You can improve your foreign language skills.
2) You can improve your intercultural skills.
3) You can gain work experience and thus get an idea of what you want to do or what you don’t want to do later for a living.
4) You gain valuable experience living in a foreign country.
5) Depending on your package of benefits you can travel more than you would in your home country and explore other countries of the region.
6) You network. You never know when this could come in handy.
7) You make friends. Possibly for life.
I’ve been asked pretty often how I got the internships that I did in the past. Let me tell you first, there is no magic involved and anyone can find an internship, if he/she just tries hard enough and is patient. There are 3 ways of getting an internship (all tried and tested by me):
1) You go through an organization. For students I recommend AIESEC. Get in touch with your local AIESEC committee for more information. It is cheaper than most of the other organizations, which take ridiculous prices for getting you an internship. Plus, the AIESEC network is unbeatable. There will always be at least one person in your host country that will support you.
2) Consult your network. Don’t be afraid to ask your parents, professor or colleagues etc. if they know somebody in your target country, who could possibly help you find an internship. I also found that engaging in LinkedIn forums or on Facebook group pages (e.g. “Deutsche in Katar” etc.) can boost your chances of finding a suitable position.
3) The traditional way: Pick a few target destinations and do thorough research on internship opportunities in those countries. Keep a list of your research, so you can follow up on the applications you sent. I experienced that most of the companies don’t answer until you bug them with a follow-up email or even call them. This always boosted my success rate. Also, consider applying in medium-size companies and send individual applications via email. This will increase your chances.
I realized my last internship with method no. 3. I was very keen on working in that company, so when I didn’t hear anything from them within 1-2 weeks I always sent a follow-up email. The process stretched over a couple of months, but in the end I got what I wanted! Be persistent, stay determined. There’s a reason why they say: Good things come to those who wait.
My next internship is organized by AIESEC (method no. 1). This time it will be something totally different. It will be in a country I am absolutely unfamiliar with, with a language I don’t speak and for a longer period away from home than I have ever been before. I dare you to do the same. Sometimes the most challenging adventure is the best for your personal development. If possible, don’t go to a culture similar to yours. If you are European do an internship in an Asian or Arab country and so on. The experience will be much richer! I can’t wait to announce the destination of my next internship. Stay tuned for that!
If you need any further advice and tips on internships/stays abroad just let me know in the comments below.
Love now, love always.