One of the best ways to advance your career is with an overseas internship. There are many benefits to gain by going down this path. Not only will you benefit from real-life working experience, but also you will improve your cross-cultural skills and find it easier to adapt to different working environments. If that wasn’t enough, you will become more independent, improve your language skills, and you will be able to build up a global contact book through networking during your internship. But, to ensure you reap all of these benefits, you need to make the most of your internship abroad. Continue reading to discover how.
Be open-minded to other cultures
When interning abroad, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to be set in your ways. Of course, you are used to the way of life in your home country; however, you need to be open minded to other cultures. If you are, you will have a truly enlightening and enjoyable experience. You need to accept that people simply do things differently. You may be used to a leisurely and enjoyable commute to work in your home country. If you intern in London, you will experience mayhem when getting to work, as everyone seems to be in a rush. It can take a while to get used to, but once you get over the initial shock, you should be fine. Being open-minded to other cultures also applies to the workplace. You need to appreciate the way of working at the company you are interning at. By embracing a different style of work culture, you will be much more adaptable in the future, which will stand you in good stead.
Always work hard
This may sound obvious, but when you are given tedious tasks, such as printing endless copies of paperwork, it can be hard to give it your all. While such jobs may not be satisfying or fun if you can show your dedication and enthusiasm no matter what is handed to you. So, you are guaranteed to impress your boss.
Take your chance to learn another language
There is no better way to learn a foreign language than to be surrounded by people whose native tongue is the language you are trying to learn. An overseas internship presents you with an excellent opportunity to learn another language, whether you have prior knowledge of the language in question or not. This is something that will look very impressive on your resume in the future.
Be receptive to feedback
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is taking feedback personally. After all, you cannot expect to be an expert overnight – you are there to learn. Any constructive criticism should be taken on the chin and you should use it to better yourself. What if you are not getting any feedback at all? This can often happen to interns. If this happens to you, don’t be afraid of asking for feedback. It is important to know how you are getting on, what you could do differently, and if you are meeting the goals of the company. You will never have a true reflection of how your internship is going if you do not ask.
Keep an open mind and be flexible at all times
One of the things you need to be prepared for is change. No matter how hard you plan, things will change at the last minute, whether this is to do with your internship, accommodation, or the general moving process. You need to be adaptable to these plans and willing to accept change if you are to get the most from your experience.
Play to your strengths
As mentioned earlier, when taking part in an internship abroad, you do need to be open-minded to different cultures and ways of working. Nevertheless, one of the main reasons why you are attractive to companies is because you bring a unique skill set and way of working with you too. This is something the company could benefit from or learn from. So, make sure you play to your strengths, as it is likely that you will have some qualities that the home workers do not and vice versa.
While you are doing your internship, you can still add to your skill set at the same time. This will ensure you are ready to head straight into a job once you complete your internship. Look for an online course, such as those offered at Wilfrid Laurier Online University. You can then get the qualifications you need while you are doing your internship. Both will help one and other, and so you will feel yourself progressing at a rapid pace.
Build your network
No matter whether you are embarking on an internship in New York, London, Shanghai, or somewhere different, one of the most important things to do is network effectively. You have an incredible opportunity to build up a global contact book. Not only will this be impressive to potential future employers but it will also stand you in good stead for future opportunities. After all, they do say that it is often not what you know, but whom you know. One of these people could hold the key to your future.
Ask questions but show initiative too
There is nothing wrong with asking questions. In fact, it is encouraged. However, don’t simply ask every question that pops into your mind. Instead, show initiative by trying to find the answers yourself first. Use company resources to get the information you need. If you still find that your query is unanswered, you can then ask your supervisor or someone else who works at the company.
At the beginning of your internship, it is always a good idea to meet with your boss so that you can discover what they are expecting from your placement at their company. This will give you a sense of direction – you will know what it is that you are expected to achieve. Not only do you need to think about your supervisor’s goals, but also it is important to set your own goals as well. What do you want to learn? What do you hope to get out of your internship? This will help you to go about your internship with a greater sense of purpose because you will know what you are trying to achieve from it.
Put your phone on silent mode
Nothing looks more unprofessional than checking your smartphone every five minutes. Instead, put it on silent mode and keep it out of sight. You should only check your mobile during your lunch or coffee break. If you are awaiting an important call or text, then you can keep your mobile by your said. However, if you notice that this is something none of the other employees do it may be worth mentioning why your phone is out to your boss – if you have the opportunity. As mentioned earlier, it is all about figuring out what the working culture is like. You may be used to everyone having their phone with him but this could be frowned upon in the country you are going to.
Keep in contact
Once the internship is over, make sure you keep in touch with the contacts you have made. Do not be overpowering by sending emails every few days, but make sure you maintain a relationship, as you never know where this could lead you in the future.
Watch and learn
Last but not least, it is important to watch your co-workers and learn from their actions. Understanding the culture of the organisation and seek guidance from your peers and colleagues. Getting to grips with the procedures and policies is important too. In some cases, you may have the opportunity to shadow other employees so you can learn from them. If possible, and appropriate, you should also ask if you can sit in on any employee meetings the company holds.
If you follow the tips that have been provided in this write-up, you can be confident that you will get the most from your overseas intern experience this coming year. And, most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy it! After all, this is a once in a lifetime experience, so it is important to truly make the most of it. Take the time to explore the destination and to really embrace your new surroundings.