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Interning Abroad: On How and Why We Survive

posted by Sabrina Sunde

Sabrina Afternoon tea.jpg

That title was a bit of a doozy and I don’t mean to come across so deep. When I say survive I don’t mean eat, sleep, shelter. Survive, to me is more like laugh, learn, and get over the small things. I want to tie this in with the importance of work relationships and the bonds built between interns.

I have been in Ireland only a few weeks. This is not a long stretch of time, it could be the length of a long vacation. Saying I "survived" this shouldn’t be an accomplishment, but it is. (Refer to my delinquent definition not the Merriam-Webster dictionary version.) I have survived in part because of the relationships I built from day one. I met one amazing French woman and three fantastic Austrians.

Imagine me, arriving with no luggage after a hellish travel ordeal. One would think that you have the right to be angry, but I didn’t have the opportunity. I was too busy being welcomed, because you have two options when you enter any new environment: embrace or resist.

At LIM we focus our efforts on building relationships, and a few of these developed at Internships. From day one you will network. With your department, with HR, with fellow interns (with everyone you get the chance to).

Here are my tips for good impressions:

  • Smile, even if you look silly.
  • Introduce yourself, and if you are like me: be willing to ask for repeats because you are terrible with names.
  • Be the yes man/woman: take on tasks, look for learning, and don’t shy away from knowing your coworkers socially.
  • Something you might call branding. Not in the 21st century patented way. Brand yourself, in that you are aware of yourself and willing to let that shine. (Nothing has killed me more in a workplace than forcing a subdued personality.)

Interning abroad is a unique combination of study abroad and interning with a new business. I live where I work and I work with my neighbors. While I am potentially wading into dangerous waters, I do not shy away from being friends with the new people I meet. There is something exceptionally wonderful about meeting other international travelers. They are kind, interesting and curious people. We are all learning new jobs and a new culture in Ireland, with similar struggles but different backgrounds.

It is hard to express exactly what I mean but I can try and sum it up. My first dinner in Ireland I was seated at a table in a Japanese restaurant with three Austrians and a French woman. My face hurt by the end from smiling so much.

If you have an opportunity to intern abroad, do it.

Topics: study abroad, Ireland, fashion internships