2016 is the year to go abroad.Here are 10 reasons why you should travel AND make the most of your time abroad through an internship program.
1. An internship matters more than an exam!
Interning abroad is an opportunity that you cannot miss. Roll up your sleeves, and put the knowledge you learned at university into action. There are lots of things that you cannot acquire through books. Moreover, in many jobs, expanding your network of connections early in your career is fundamental.
Tip for making the best of your internship abroad: Apply early for internships abroad. I am currently interning abroad in Spain and would recommend starting your research and applying six months in advance. This will give you time to find internship opportunities (check out some useful internship abroad opportunities we post on GapBrave), conduct interviews such as via Skype, and then, if you are accepted, find housing, book flights and more.
Also, did you know that RGNN has its own Academy and is offering Journalism Internship Seminars abroad here in Madrid, Spain? Apply for them now here!
2. Learn another language
We live in a globalized society and must be able to interact with people from all over the world. Nowadays, speaking as many languages as you can is essential. Living abroad is a good opportunity to perfect a language that you already started to learn or to learn a completely new one. I can speak from personal experience: last year I lived in France and now, I am in Spain. The only way to learn a language is living in a country and immersing yourself in the local culture.
Tip for making the best of your internship abroad: if you are not fluent in the local language, find an internship at an English-speaking organization. When you interview with them, ask whether speaking the local language is a requirement. You can also check on Linkedin to see who has interned there in the past, and then contact past interns to ask them whether speaking the local language is required. In either case, take advantage of your time abroad to actually learn the local language, such as by making as many local friends as possible.
3. Open your mind
New culture, new food, new habits. An experience abroad will make you grow as a person. Discovering different ways of life and comparing your lifestyle with a foreign one is priceless! It will give you the opportunity to better understand your own culture, too.
Tip for making the best of your internship abroad: Take advantage of your lunch time at your internship organization to do two things at once: connect with fellow interns and/or co-workers, and try new dishes. Before you ask a possible CEO whether he or she will have lunch with you, observe the work culture. Do people eat out? Do they bring lunch? Are there restaurants or supermarkets in the area? If everyone eats at their desk, then that is probably not a good option. Also, if you do go out for lunch, make sure you know how much time you have and come back to your work place in time.
4. Give more value to your CV
An internship abroad will improve your resume. Acquiring international job experience will help you in finding a job. There are a lot of enterprises that prefer hiring people who have had experience working abroad.
Tip for making the best of your internship abroad: Make sure to follow the instructions your internship supervisor gives you. This way, when you finish up the internship, he or she may be able to write a positive letter of recommendation for you, which can be crucial in finding further internship and or work opportunities abroad. Like I said before, an internship abroad can be worth more than getting an A on your last exam!
5. Get to know other people who share your dream
Interning means working with people who have already acquired some experience. Improve your skills by working with professionals and try to catch their secrets.
Tip for making the best of your internship abroad: Take notes when colleagues or supervisors are explaining instructions, or when you are invited to a meeting. If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. Just make sure you don’t have too many questions at once, so that you don’t take up excessive time that your supervisor might need to dedicate to finishing his or her own assignments. In terms of getting to know your fellow “dreamers,” find out whether the company organizes events or bonding activities. For example, at one architecture studio in Spain one of my friends interned at, she got to play padel (like tennis, but smaller) every week with the architects.
6. What does not kill you makes you stronger
If you survive in a foreign country, everything will be easier when you come back home. Living abroad isn’t always easy at the beginning. In my first week in Madrid I got lost so many times! I never felt unsafe, though, and people were always happy to help. Now I go everywhere without problems (actually, I often use Google Maps).
Tip for making the best of your internship abroad: Stay positive! A bad day is normal. Call your family or your best friend will help you. Also, chocolate is a good relief. In terms of finding your way around the city, I recommend arriving a day early.