One of the smartest decisions I have made in college was interning abroad. When I first heard about the opportunity from my study abroad advisor I was very reluctant to go to a different country and work. Couldn’t I do that in the United States? And did I really want to work while I studied in another country? Well, I eventually decided yes. Now, I was not the bravest, I went to a country that spoke my same language but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a challenge.
I studied abroad in London, England at an amazing company where I edited a coffee guide (in the place where tea is so well known, the irony wasn’t lost on me). I worked three days a week from 9am-6pm and it was a wonderful experience. My co-workers were awesome and I loved my boss.
Below I have listed a few things you should know before interning abroad because it would have been nice to know these tips before I got on my Virgin flight.
- Every office is different.
When I got to the University I was studying abroad at, they gave us a “what to expect in the workplace” lecture. They said we would drink a lot of tea (we even had a tea-making competition), hours would be relaxed, and the dress code would be relaxed. Well, my company was completely different. We were expected to dress smart, we drank tons of coffee, and we had strict hours of 9-6, even on summer Fridays. So don’t expect anything before you get there, each office culture is different.
- Go out!
I cannot suggest this enough. Go out to lunch/dinner (even breakfast) with your colleagues. I met an amazing friend at my internship & now we follow each other’s journeys on social media. Also, if you go out for drinks at the local watering hole after work you’ll get to mingle with people from other departments who might get you a job one day. It is great networking. Plus, who likes eating lunch by themselves?
- Do everything promptly (and well).
- Get to know your boss.
Your boss is a great source of ideas as well as the perfect letter of recommendation at the end of your internship. Make sure to befriend them & ask them all the questions you want. I am still friends with my two bosses and they have both offered to write me letters of recommendation. Plus, being friends with your boss gets you lots of LinkedIn connections.
- Suggest things.
- Learn the area around your office.
I cannot tell you how important it is to just walk around the neighborhood your office is in. You’ll discover where the closest post office is, the nearest sushi place, and where to grab a croissant before heading in. Then if you are tasked with running an errand for someone at work, you’ll know where you’re going! It will make your day run a lot more smoothly and your bosses will be impressed with you if you know where you are going and can get back in an efficient time frame.
Don’t be afraid to give your opinion.
what are some countries you have interned in or hope to intern in? share in the comments 🙂
Hayden Pigott is a southern girl studying at the University of Texas who loves handwritten notes, homemade banana pudding, and college football. She blogs over at Haute Table and just got back from interning abroad in London.