How to make your internship abroad a success

  • young trainee
Published on 2018-07-25 at 13:45 by Veedushi
Doing an internship abroad is often associated with some kind of stress regarding everything that's new, especially when you're moving for the first time in your life. However, adequate planning can turn this professional experience into one of the most amazing adventures of your life. To guide you, here are some tips for making your internship abroad a success.

Address the formalities


The first thing to do, without any doubt, is to inquire about formalities relating to your internship abroad. In general, students can rely on their university, both during their internship search and with the formalities to be tackled. The internet is also a useful resource where you will find not only internship ads but also valuable tips for the application process. Also, consider browsing forums such as where you can benefit from help and advice from other fellow interns or those who have been to your host country.

Once you have found an internship opportunity, inform your university to move forward as soon as possible with the relevant paperwork. Internships are usually accompanied by a formal agreement between your university and the company willing to take you on board. Depending on the country where you're going, you might need a visa, so make sure to inquire about existing visa options before applying for the most appropriate one. Don't forget to subscribe to a health insurance before moving.

Do your research on the host company

corporate culture

Finding an internship and submitting the application does not suffice. Doing some research on the host company, its activity, mission, and reputation is important, not only for your own knowledge but also to make a good impression during the interview process. Showing your interest in the company makes it clear that you're motivated enough to take the challenge. You're also advised to inquire about the type of duties you will be responsible for, so that you know whether you are a good fit.

It is also important to learn about the corporate culture by having a look at the company guidelines and asking your future colleagues any questions you may have. For example, will you get away with your mother tongue or should you learn the local language first? Will you be able to cope with the workload and pressure? Does the company culture and work environment fit with your expectations and your values? In most cases, you should be able to rely on your colleagues and superiors for better integration to the company. Your employer and colleagues will be more than happy to work with someone who's motivated, disciplined, and eager to learn.

Once you've made the move and started your internship, observe your colleagues and their behaviour to gain a better understanding of the work culture. Which is the most common type of communication at work? Do your colleagues prefer sending emails or online messaging to face to face conversations? Is there a formal or conservative dress code or are you allowed to wear casual outfits? Suppose you went to work in a suit on the very first day, but then noticed that no one else wore suits – this would indicate that you can dress more casually. It is important to note, however, that despite a casual dress code, dressing appropriately is still important. For instance, a lot of young interns who move to tropical island destinations for their internships tend to dress too casually and show up to work in their beach outfits, which is generally not accepted.

Learn about the culture of the country


Regardless of your destination, living abroad means having to adapt to a new environment and lifestyle. You're more likely to adapt quickly if your mother tongue is spoken in your host country. If it's not the case, you will probably have to take up language courses before moving. You're advised to learn about the local culture and language before moving to avoid any awkwardness, homesickness, or even any inadvertent disrespect towards the locals. It is important to understand the cultural norms before moving. For instance, if you're moving to a somewhat conservative country, you will have to keep certain things in mind, such as the way you dress.

Consider making a list of public holidays and festivals observed in your host country by asking your colleagues or checking online. It will allow you not only to understand the local culture, traditions, and lifestyle better, but also to plan your next outings. For example, you could seize the opportunity to talk with locals regarding their beliefs and customs to enrich your general knowledge, but also for better integration.

Make a budget

make a budget

Internships are not always bound by a legal framework, so depending on the host country, you're not always entitled to a salary. Internships are paid in some countries and are not in others. In some cases, you can expect a small allowance. It is, therefore, crucial to make a budget, so that you don't end up depleting your savings. Remember that when applying for your visa, you will be requested to produce proof of sufficient funds for the duration of your stay in the country.

Accommodation will without any doubt be your most significant expense, especially if you're looking to rent a place on your own. For young interns, flat-sharing is a much more affordable option, and also allows them to make new friends and feel less lonely. Make sure to inquire about the neighbourhood and type of accommodation chosen to avoid any surprise on your arrival. If you have any friends or contacts on the spot, you could ask them to check out the place and the area and send you photos. Your other expenses will include food, transportation, and leisure actitivies.

Since you're new to the country, you will probably spend your weekends exploring its nooks and crannies, from tourist attractions to popular leisure activities, and discovering the local cuisine will be part of it. While you might tempted to eat out often, make sure to keep an eye on your spending.

Take initiatives

proactive employees

Once you've got used to your new surroundings and understood the corporate culture and your missions, you will start feeling more comfortable. However, keep in mind that a successful internship isn't only about following instructions and completing tasks you have been assigned. Taking initiatives will be a plus for your resume. As a young and enthusiastic intern, you have a fresh look on existing problems and could suggest solutions. Once you have completed the assignments given to you, feel free to ask for more and discuss what interests you. After all, you have come all the way to learn and get trained for the international labour market. In any case, employers highly value proactive employees.

While you might make some mistakes in the course of action, there's no need to panic. Learn from your mistakes with a positive attitude and always aim higher. Feel free to offer your help whenever you feel you can be useful to your colleagues.

Expand your network


On your arrival, your colleagues will probably be the first people with whom you will have the opportunity to chat, unless you have opted for flat-sharing which will allow you to connect more rapidly with people who are more or less the same age as you. In any case, living abroad enables you to expand your professional and social network. Do not turn down invites for having a drink or eating out or taking part in events or activities. Networking can open the doors to a world of new opportunities you have perhaps never imagined.

We hope that these tips have been helpful to you in preparing your internship abroad. If you have any other useful information to add, feel free to share them with us by dropping a comment below.