Intern Experience: Interning Abroad When The Pandemic Hit

Molly Haskell

In the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, recent graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rachel, secured a spring internship in Dublin to work in agriculture at a chemical and biology company.

“After graduation, your personal travel time is not a guarantee, especially once you start job hunting or you’ve accepted a job. I thought to myself, “When will you ever have the opportunity to travel and work like this again?”.”

Rachel took some time during her undergrad to plan her internship abroad so she would not have any world travel regrets. She found the Global Experiences intern abroad program and knew it would be the best choice. “I was so surprised to see they had internships in Agriculture/Ecology, and when I did, I could not pass up the opportunity!”

And so she was off -- only for the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the pandemic forced her to return home early.

Rachel Blog Image

With a major in Crop Sciences and a minor in International Development Economics, Rachel locked in the perfect internship with a chemical and biology company in Dublin. Working hands-on in a lab, this is where she was able to put her educational background to work every day and she said, “exactly what she was looking for!”.

“During my daily visits to the office, I was able to get the best hands-on experience. In the agricultural world, I believe it is very important to be diverse in your set of skills from being able to work in the field, with machinery or in the lab. I feel like I have an edge over other competitors in the job market now. Through my internship, I have learned new lab techniques and how to run an experiment.”

Rachel made the most of her internship and gained invaluable skills -- she also made the most out of being in a new city and a new country. She formed new friendships with other interns and colleagues, and joined an intramural volleyball team where she “was able to play with people from all over the world and ended up winning the championship!”.

“Living with the other interns was such a fun experience to add to my program. We all had different internships at different companies, but always found time after work and over the weekend to become such close friends -- whether it was staying in after a long day at work or attending happy hour to celebrate a birthday.”

Making sure to experience true Irish culture, Rachel “enjoyed taking short day trips to the outskirts of Dublin from Howth to Wicklow and all the way down to Kilkenny” and exploring the city. Rachel and her friends loved the music scene in Dublin. “We enjoyed going out for a pint during the week or on the weekends and listening to our favorite performers. When walking the streets of Dublin, you can turn a corner and hear music.”

Rachel chose to intern abroad in Dublin because she believes it is a city that offers you the best of both worlds.

“The city offers a fast-paced feeling of non-stop happenings, crowds, live music; but is also a short train ride to small towns where you’ll encounter wide open spaces of beautiful nature. Dublin is truly a city full of living history, from its historical buildings to the wall art on its streets, it is a place I learned to love.”

Watch the video below to see Rachel show you what one of her days looked like interning abroad.


Unfortunately, Rachel’s adventure in Dublin had to come to an early end when the pandemic went widespread and Global Experiences made the tough decision to close all spring programs early and bring interns home.

“I was in Dublin as the pandemic had just begun to spread throughout Ireland circa Saint Patrick’s Day. Bars and restaurants were closing early or not open at all. My internship was just starting to limit how many people could come into work everyday. It was something that none of us had experienced so it was all new.”

Rachel was a seasoned traveller before interning in Dublin -- having been all over the world from Buenos Aires to Budapest, she said she never felt more comfortable and safe than she did in Dublin. So after visiting a few universities in Ireland, Rachel ultimately found University College Dublin as the place she wanted to call home and continue her education.

Not letting the pandemic stop her any longer, Rachel will be starting her masters in the fall in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development. And is hopefully that after the program, she will be looking to stay in Ireland or Europe for work.

Looking back at her experience, Rachel said her favorite part of her intern abroad experience with Global Experiences has been not only meeting great students from all over the world, but being able to navigate a new culture together.

Her advice to someone thinking about interning abroad:

“Break out of your shell and say yes. Say yes to moving to another country. Say yes to that internship. Say yes to that pint of Guinness. There are so many things we miss out on in life due to fear of failure or judgement. We can overcome these fears by just going for it sometimes. Think about the next time you will have the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world while you are getting internship experience. These are your friends and memories that will last a lifetime. It’s time to think what is best for yourself and not let anything stop you. I am happy to say I am able to look back at my time abroad and not have any regrets!”

Do you want to have an abroad experience just like Rachel? Apply for Global Experiences intern abroad program today!

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