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Interning abroad creates an exciting opportunity to learn, practice and acquire professional skills in a foreign organization. Many aspects of internship abroad are quite different than an internship in the home country, but the fact remains that as an intern you are gaining valuable experience that will help you build your resume and prepare you to reach your next step in life.
It can be said that the most important qualities of any intern abroad student are flexibility, open-mindedness, a positive attitude, a sense of humor and a willingness to adapt to difficult, unfamiliar and challenging situations. Not only will you be required to live and study in another culture, but to also work as well.
Work environments and work practices can be very different than those in the home countries. Some students may be thinking to go for the international internship with little or no office experience, and glamorous visions of the world of work may be met with the reality of the daily 9-5 spent in front of a computer.
It can be challenging to accept that there are important differences in the way companies and startups are constructed in any foreign land, as well as what barriers there may be for international interns hoping to pursue certain avenues within the their context. In many cases, your education and work experience will be interpreted differently overseas.
Opportunities that might be available to you in the home may not exist in a foreign land in the same form, may not be to open to international interns, or your educational and work background may not correspond to the needs and requirements of a particular organization or sector.
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At universities and within college departments, areas of study are clearly defined and categorized. Unfortunately, life is not as neat and tidy as a major. While students’ choices will likely reflect contained areas, the internship may well span over several fields, or even incorporate fields that may not be initially thought of as allied. Tough textbooks often present theoretical and conceptual views of the world, which play an implicit role in the workplace, they are not usually an obvious focus in daily practice. Furthermore, practice does not always reflect theory, particularly in different national and cultural contexts.
As an intern, your tasks will mirror that of a student looking to gain work experience in a field that reflects a future career aspiration. Please be aware that confidentiality policies, qualifications, and union rules could limit your exposure. All students should expect to be involved in a variety of tasks in the work place.
There will challenges and differences in your work place for obvious reasons but no matter what be prepared to make note of them also learn how to handle them. You may also explain your experience about the cultural differences you faced and how you overcame in your next job interview and that certainly might set you in an advantageous position than the rest of the pack.
Similarly, work culture varies across the globe. For example interning in India might not offer you the same work environment like in Australia. You may find that the work environment in Australia is more relaxed and have more social gatherings, such as happy hour, are common among your colleagues. On the other hand, countries such as Japan or Germany which have more conservative culture, you may find your colleagues to be a bit more buttoned up, and the office culture reserved.
As similar to the office culture, the dress code can also vary. So it is essential that you must do some research on the dress code to ensure you are packing the appropriate attire in your limited luggage allowance before you set out for your internship abroad. It is always best to look "too professional" at first rather than underdressed.
For the best shot at success in adapting to the new office culture, hang back your first few days and observe the culture around you to see how you can blend your personality, professionalism and the culture around you. You may also want to have a conversation with your mentor or leader to make sure you get on the same page early on.
To adapt to the new office culture, you must observe the work culture around you to figure out the ways to gel well and hang back for first few days of your internship.
Last but not the least, be flexible, and be it change in your working style, or accepting slightly-odd internship hours. As long as you do your best at both efforts, you're guaranteed to have a rewarding and productive time abroad.
To know more information about study and intern abroad please talk to our counsellors.
Picture courtesy: NUSingapore