How to Get the Most out of Interning in Europe
The thrill of living abroad is enhanced by working there and feeling like a local in one of Europe’s top cities like Madrid or Brussels.
If you want to wait in line at the Prado Museum in Madrid or the Atomium Museum in Brussels you can, but you can also travel with a purpose for your professional future and get a perspective beyond the over-trodden tourist circuit.
The picture you will get as an intern is a lot more reliable and sophisticated than what you can obtain through a “solo” educational or tourist program because it will help you improve your foreign language skills and upgrade your resume.
An internship is an opportunity to gain valuable work experience, network and make contacts in your industry, and bolster your resume.Doing an internship in a foreign country adds the opportunity to learn or improve a second language and take in a different culture.
Labour laws in your host country may be different from what you are used to.Make sure you fully research what your rights are as a foreign worker. Make sure you have all proper visas and documentation in place before leaving your country. An immigration lawyer may be useful in helping with any problems that arise.
Flexibility and problem-solving skills are important.The ability to work alone as well as with a team of your peers is a must; a positive attitude will serve you well.
An internship abroad looks great on a resume.The goal should be to end up with a great reference from your employer. To make the most of your time put forward your best effort on every project you're assigned.
Strengthen your communication skills.During your internship, fully understanding of what's expected is essential for your performance of creative tasks and the quality of the work you do. Make sure you can comprehend the language that will be spoken most. Often your acceptance into the program is dependent on your language level.
Your specific qualifications will be secondary to your interpersonal skills.You will learn more skills during the internship.
The interview process is an opportunity for you to collect information about the company, country, and impress your prospective employer.To do so:
- Mind your body language. Your posture, facial expressions, and eye contact give away subtle clues to how you feel. You want to project confidence, sit up straight, relax and be engaged with the interviewer. Eye contact and nodding in agreement to important statements shows you are actively listening.
- Dress for the position you want. Every company has their standard of professionalism, to get a sense of it, look at their website and note what the employees are wearing in the pictures. When in doubt, dress 'business professional'. This means a business suit and ties for men and trousers or knee-length skirts with stockings for women, paired with a conservative top and blazer.
- Watch that you don't reveal too much skin (shoulders and cleavage).
- Remember, outfits that you would wear to a nightclub should not be worn in the workplace.
The formality of the company is also reflected in language.This is what is referred to as“register.”Factors like tone and use of jargon or slang are things to take note of. Always try to speak in the language in which you are spoken to. This statement goes both literally and figuratively; if they talk to you in French, reply in French, if they greet you formally, answer formally.
Take into consideration different cultural norms such as personal space and tone of voice.Be aware of any differences before your interview to avoid any embarrassing faux pas.
Be enthusiastic about the opportunity and show interest in the company.Do background research on the business before the interview and have a list of questions prepared to ask the interviewer. It will show that you are interested and serious about the position.
Talk about the value you bring to the company – your skills and what you can contribute.Ask about current goals and targets, be engaged and relate to why those targets are necessary for the business. Reaffirm your commitment to working hard to accomplish those goals and be a part of the team.
Prioritize.There is a big difference between being on vacation and living and working in a new city. You may not be able to sight-see and explore for quite some time while you get established. Juggling a social life in a city like Madrid or Brussels, while upholding your commitment to work can be quite overwhelming. Many people over-estimate their stamina and wear themselves out fast. If your focus is more on nightlife than work life, the quality of your work can suffer, leading to discipline from your employer. It's important to find a balance between work and play.
- Decide on the right program.
- Do your research first and weigh the information objectively.
- Do you need an accredited program?
- What kind of support and orientation does the program offer?
- What is the intern placement method?
- Who is the source provider?
- What visas and documents do I need?
- Once out of their home country, some can rise above the stress and adapt while others find it to be much more difficult.
- If you become overwhelmed and are not feeling balanced, it is important to have a support system. Don’t expect any hand-holding, but if you value personal attention, do choose a program where you will not get lost in the numbers.
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