15 May How to Make the Most out of Your Internship Abroad
Doing an internship abroad is an amazing experience that will enable you to grow both professionally and personally. You’ll create lasting memories and expand your worldview, making friends from all around the world. If you are thinking of doing an internship abroad, here’s some tips on how to make the most out of your time abroad:
1. Gather all that courage, and take a leap!
If you've already decided on an internship abroad, congratulations! You've already taken the first step towards an exciting future. Taking that leap and committing to an internship abroad is the hardest part of the entire process.
2. Plan.. but not too much
The couple of months before your departure can be quite stressful. It’s a mix of emotions. Feeling scared and excited at the same time is to be expected. This is completely normal. To calm your nerves, there are a few things you can do. Research your destination (the culture, the transportation, the work ethic) and create a rough schedule for your time abroad. Be careful not to overplan - it's important to leave space for surprises, too!
3. Set goals
Having a goal written down gives you something to plan and work towards. It’s a great way to track the changes you go through when you are doing an internship abroad - whether they are personal goals or professional, it feels great when you hit that mark of success. Develop a new skill, try the local cuisine, learn a new language... the possibilities are endless. And don’t forget to mention your new accomplishments in your CV!
4. Keep an open mind
This is probably the most important thing to take into consideration. Sometimes we set up expectations and get upset when these expectations don’t match the reality. This often happens simply because we base our expectations on our own perception or ideas of how things will or should be. If you keep an open mind, and have a positive attitude, you will often be positively surprised with what life brings your way. It’s all about being flexible and getting out of your comfort zone - that's when life gets interesting!
5. Immerse yourself in your new home
Take this time abroad to really make the most out of your experience, explore your new city and its surroundings, try new exotic food, discover the local music and immerse yourself completely in a new culture. Can you already see yourself, exploring the mystic castles in Lisbon, strolling down the Great Wall of China, enjoying the midnight sun in Stockholm, and spending a relaxing Sunday at the beach in Barcelona?
6. Make friends from all over the globe
Doing an internship abroad is a great opportunity to make international friends. You are surrounded by like-minded people that also dared to step outside the box. They are your community and your tribe, and together you will be able to grow and face the new challenges ahead.
"I didn't expect to bond so quickly with the other interns. I made so many good friends that I'm still in contact with. My roommate became one of my best friends."
Isabella, Alumni Intern at the Singapore Program 2018
You will meet people from every corner of the world, taking on new perspectives of life. Seeing new points of view adds to our personal growth, and makes us more understanding and tolerant towards cultures that are different from our own. And the best part? If you want to travel the world, you now have a couch available in so many different places!
7. Enjoy the moment
Let’s face it, it might not always be easy. There may be moments when you will miss home, but there are things you can do to help overcome this feeling. Reach out to your family. Skype your friends. Keep them posted on social media. Their support helps a great deal, but don’t lose track of your goal and learn to focus on the now. Be present in the moment. Life flies by, and if you are not paying attention, you will miss the best moments.
8. Learning is key
As an intern, initially, you’ll have more to learn than to offer. Take this time to observe and learn as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Always be flexible and willing to get your hands dirty. A real understanding of the simplest of jobs makes for a great leader in the future. With time, you will start getting more responsibility and be a lot more involved. It’s important to be proactive and take initiative.
9. Network, network, network
You should see your internship abroad as a networking platform for your future. Your colleagues, your superiors, the people you meet along the way... you never know what role they will have in your life, and what opportunities they might present you with. Creating professional connections can open a lot of doors in the future, so make sure you take advantage of your time on the internship. Don’t forget to ask for a recommendation letter at the end!
That's it - you’re ready to make the most out of your experience, and have everything you need to have the time of your life! Now that you have stepped outside your comfort zone, it’s time to dive head first into this new opportunity.